Undeclared Support
SUNY honors Oswego's Major Exploration Program

Outstanding service to undeclared and other students earned Oswego’s Major Exploration Program an award from the State University of New York and the system’s top student affairs officers.

The honor, in the First-Year Student and Support category of the 2012 Outstanding Student Affairs Program Awards, particularly cites Oswego’s freshmen-to-sophomore retention rates for undeclared students rising nearly 10 percentage points in the years following the 2007-08 pilot for the program.

The initiative provides courses, in-person and online workshops, career events and other resources for students trying to identify a major.

“Your program . . . has clearly made a very positive impact on students and their development and has improved the living-learning community on your campus,” wrote Ed Engelbride, SUNY’s associate provost, and Dave Herman, president of the SUNY Council of Chief Student Affairs Officers, in an award letter.

Kathleen Evans, assistant vice president of student affairs at Oswego, will accept the award on Sept. 27 at a SUNY-wide gathering in Syracuse of the Council of Chief Student Affairs Officers, said Christy Huynh, who has been working on and with the Major Exploration Program since 2005.

“With the creation of the Compass (student success center), there was a new emphasis placed on major exploration on campus,” said Huynh, associate director of the Compass. “It’s that moment a student has when they suddenly understand that there’s something out there that really resonates with them, gets them excited, and sees as kind of a feasible option to pursue a major or career aligned with that.”

Early awareness

Huynh noted in applying for the award that 15 percent to 20 percent of freshmen come in without a major, and an additional 60 percent change majors. “The program’s intention is to engage students early in order to raise awareness about resources and find a direction in a timely manner,” she wrote.

The Compass offers multiple workshops throughout the year to help students get involved with the program and the process of choosing a major. They include an “Exploring Majors” workshop, which teaches students how to explore academic majors and engage in self-assessment activities, and the “What’s My Type?” workshop to help students identify their preferences and how these relate to majors and careers.

Students who participated in the workshops in 2010 and 2011 were surveyed, with 96 percent agreeing that the program had the resources they need to explore majors.

Jackie Wallace, in charge of the First-Year Residential Experience program and recently named coordinator of the Major Exploration Program, stressed that the focus for the next couple of years in the Compass is to do “more outreach and receive support from all advisement on campus, hoping that students can be aware of what Major Exploration has to offer.”

Along with the many other opportunities, Major Exploration is working on a resource called Candid Career, an online video library with more than 2,700 informational career interviews. The people in the videos have worked in industries that students may be interested in.

(Posted: Sep 07, 2012)