Ball State is piloting a new program that targets undecided students to help them choose a major.
Tamarah Dixon, Park Hall’s assistant hall director, said the new Explorers Program for undecided students helps reach those that are underrepresented in the university.
“A lot of students are getting lost trying to select their career and major,” Dixon said. “In order to get them more confident, we’re trying to get a program we thought would get them engaged, focused and asking the right questions in terms of selecting a career.”
The Explorers Program will work through a mentor-mentee relationship, with student leaders acting as mentors to a “family” of up to eight participants. Mentors for the first year were already selected and will train in late August.
Mentors will guide their students through resources available on campus through the Career Center and Counseling Center, such as the career aptitude test and talking to faculty.
Dixon said the mentors will serve as friends to help guide undecided students through the university.
“Mentors are everything in this,” Dixon said. “The students coming in [may be] intimidated by faculty, or not sure of what questions to ask, but the student mentors are really critical in helping disarm any [negative perceptions]. It’s someone on campus who can be an immediate resource, even after hours.”
The target group for the pilot year is freshmen, but Dixon said the program will not turn away older or transfer students. Undecided students will receive emails inviting them to participate in the two-semester program.
Joel Bynum, assistant director for coordination of Living and Learning programs, said the number of incoming freshmen who select “undecided” instead of a major is typically around 350 to 400 students.
Bynum said students that take longer to determine their academic direction typically take longer to graduate and often feel underserved by the university.
“My goal would be for every student to have decided by end of freshman year. [If not], by narrowing [down their selection], they’ll hopefully graduate within five years,” Bynum said. “The impact for the university will be students moving through the university at much more efficient pace.”
Dixon said she hopes this program can help students make informed decisions and then be excited about their future career options.
“I really want to focus on having students have a personal, comfortable experience at Ball State and be comfortable in their majors.” she said.