In any given fall semester, eight to ten percent of all incoming first-year students at Saint Rose wait to declare a major and decide to enter as “Exploratory”. Most of these 60-70 first-years are highly talented and interested in a variety of areas, but have a hard time choosing the one that is the best fit. Some of these students already have their choice narrowed down to two or three options and are looking to finalize their decision. And then there are some who are completely undecided. Regardless of their starting point, all of these students seek to explore their options. And, they’re wise to do so: the research shows that students who enter college in an Exploratory program are actually less likely to change their major once it has been declared, because their decision has been an informed one.
The Exploratory program at Saint Rose is designed to give students the tools and information they need to make that informed decision. We believe that students need to take a more proactive approach when deciding upon a major and our program is designed to do just that. We will dispel myths commonly associated with declaring a major, emphasize the process of self-discovery, discuss different types of majors and careers, and ultimately have students choose a major based upon their intrinsic values, interests and aspirations. The program is constructed around three main components:
- EXY 100- Explorations: EXY 100 is a one-credit course that all Exploratory students take in their first semester which was developed in collaboration with the Career Center. The course will begin by dispelling some myths commonly associated with declaring a major such as the correlation between major vs. career and the design of a bachelor’s degree program. Students will then take a series of self-assessments which will help to identify their strengths, challenges, career satisfiers and values. We will then go on to discuss/research different majors and careers and even devote three weeks of the class to faculty-run presentations about their programs. The final chapter of the class will focus on the topic of decision making.
- Centralized Advising Model: All Exploratory students will be assigned to the Associate Director of Academic Advising, Jennifer Hankin, who is a professional Academic Advisor and the Coordinator of the Exploratory program, up until the point they are ready to declare a major. She will meet with each student on an individual basis at least twice in the first semester, will monitor their progress in the EXY 100 course, and offer advice/suggestions to help facilitate the decision making process. Once a student is ready to declare a major, a faculty advisor will then be assigned.
- Deliberate use of Liberal Education Requirements: All students must take at least 41 credits of liberal education requirements regardless of their degree program. These requirements play a very important role for Exploratory students in their first semester. In addition to the EXY 100 course, these students will be placed in various introductory courses (which they expressed interest in on their Pre-Registration form) that will serve as liberal education requirements. Essentially, they are given the opportunity to “test the water” within a given subject area while also satisfying a liberal education requirement.
Historically, coming into college undecided or Exploratory has had a negative connotation, but it does not have to be that way. With a structured program, such as ours, students are given the opportunity to be able to declare a major sooner rather than later, to discover their interests, and find their true passion.
For questions regarding the Exploratory program, please feel free to contact Jennifer Hankin directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or (518) 454-2852.