It’s no secret that switching majors can increase the time and money a student spends earning a degree. But college officials say it’s a scenario more and more undergrads are now facing.
According to federal data, a third of all college students change their major at least once. Ten percent of students switch paths two or more times.
Carol Jean Vale, president of Chestnut Hill College (PA), attributes the shift to a rise in college access. As more first-generation students enter college, they need different types of support, she told The Hechinger Report.
“There are so many options open to them, so many things they’re interested in, that settling on one thing can be very difficult,” Vale explained.
But that indecision comes with consequences, she noted.
“It’s not all right,” Vale said. “It’s just too costly.”
The college started a new voluntary program this fall designed to help students sort through their options. Students meet with an advisor once a week to weigh potential majors and narrow down their choices.
The challenge going forward for Chestnut Hill and other colleges is how to continue to encourage exploration, while helping students complete a degree in a timely manner.
“I don’t think that anybody who has gone through the collegiate process is surprised that a 17- or 18-year-old doesn’t know what they want to do for the rest of their lives,” Dhanfu Elston, with Complete College America, told The Hechinger Report.
Instead, the question becomes: How do colleges ensure their students are well-informed about their choices?
“That’s the first step institutions really have to think about,” he said.
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