New major declaration policy to go into effect in fall 2020

Jacob Waring – News Editor

The University recently instituted a policy where students much declare a major at 60 credits, and transfer students have a one semester grace period before needing to declare.

Faculty Director of Undergraduate Academic Advising, Helen Marx said the creation of the policy started back in the fall of 2018. Marx also said when the University hired the director of academic advising, Harry Twyman, who specializes in exploratory majors. The policy will go into effect in fall 2020 according to Marx.

Along with Twyman, Marx’s office brought the idea to a university faculty group called University Wide Impact Committee to create the policy. She said this all came about in the transition of re-labeling undeclared majors to exploratory majors.

Marx said in the process of developing these types of services to help students who were exploring majors, those involved realized there was not an explicit policy concerning a point that students must declare a major.

“We had no firm policy and that it would be helpful for students to know, because I think a lot of students didn’t know it would be helpful,” said Marx.

According to Marx was for some transfer students who have more than 60 credits, but are unsure what their major would be. She said that grace period of one semester is designed to aid students in figuring out their next steps. Marx said that students will not be alone in figuring out = their majors.

“They’re not going to be left alone to figure it out,” said Marx, “If we know they need a lot of support in declaring their major, we’re going to be providing them. They can come to the advising center and really do a lot of research to decide which majors writing for them.” Some students like theater major Azhaleia Reyes, a sophomore said they believe one semester is not enough.

“I think a semester wouldn’t be long enough time to kind of declare that,” said Reyes, “[or] to explore at least other areas within the college major.”

Reyes said she does like that there will be a firm policy, rather than a rule of thumb, of when students should declare their major.

“Like a rule of thumb would be very hard for students,” she said, “To be sure that’s something that you have to do.”

Frank LaDore, director of transfer student services said he works with new transfers students who come to Southern and that there are academic and financial reasons as to why a transfer student would need to declare their major within that timeframe.

LaDore said that those who transfer with an associate degree typically have all their general education requirements completed and that means that would have to declare a major to start taking classes towards every year. He also said there are financial aid reasons for needing to declare sooner rather than later.

financial purposes, they don’t pay for courses, for classes that don’t just don’t do anything for you,” he said, “You have to take classes towards a degree in order for the federal government to subsidize help you out.”

He said the new policy will help students graduate timely, and push them to take a more appropriate, proactive stance on what it is they want do earlier with their degree. LaDore said that students delay or don’t know what to do, the majority of those people don’t persist with their education.

“I think it’s an important policy. It’s not new to higher education. Many universities have that this policy,” said Ladore, “It’s basically to not only does it help them retain graduate talent, but saves money, too.”

“This was done with the notion of how do we help students find a major that’s right for them,” said Marx “We believe students stay in school when they’re really excited about what they’re learning.

Photo Credit: Jacob Waring

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