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MCTC Launches Exploratory Majors for Undecided Students

Minneapolis Community & Technical College launched an innovative option for undecided students called “Exploratory Majors” April 18.

Exploratory Majors include a set of courses that count toward multiple degrees or diplomas within a single career cluster. These career clusters are defined through eight Schools within the College based on similar areas of interest, expertise and occupations. By selecting an Exploratory Major within one of the eight Schools, Minneapolis College students can begin progressing on their educational pathway while still deciding which specific academic program to pursue.

As many as half of first-time college students are undecided on a major upon entering college and an estimated 75 percent change their major at least once before graduation (Gordon, 1995). For undecided students, Exploratory Majors will improve college completion rates, reduce overall educational costs and minimize time taken to earn a degree.

Minneapolis College launched the following Exploratory Majors for undecided students to declare during the application process:

Starting with their first semester, students choosing an Exploratory Major will have access to career services and extracurricular programming to help them select a specific program in which to earn a degree as they “explore” the options within their School. The simplified Schools structure provides clearer pathways for students.

“This exciting new option is designed around the many students we serve who are undecided on a career path,” Minneapolis College President Sharon Pierce said.

“By providing them with the structure and support they need to identify and achieve their goals, it will help them avoid wasting time and money.”

Minneapolis College continues to offer 111 degrees, diplomas and certificates so students who know which specific major they wish to pursue may declare any one of these specific majors rather than an Exploratory Major.

Although Exploratory Majors (often referred to as “meta-majors”) are an innovative option in Minnesota, they are being adopted across the country in an attempt to reduce the time it takes students to complete a degree.

After Georgia State University began offering a meta-major, the number of times students changed their majors decreased by a third. This is important because changing from one major to another usually results in students taking college credits that do not count toward the programs they ultimately complete.

According to a 2016 report from Jobs for the Future,

“A growing body of evidence reveals that a central factor in low completion rates for community college students is the 'cafeteria' style approach to college, which provides entering students with a dizzying array of choices and little guidance on navigating those choices.

"A poor decision on which classes to take can cost community college students a significant amount of time and potentially mean the difference between earning a credential or degree and stopping or dropping out. Meta-majors are a programmatic response to these findings. Designed with the end (college completion) in mind, and using students' interests as a starting point, meta-majors provide structure and narrow choices to support student success.”

For additional information about the use of meta-majors at colleges across the United States, see the Jobs for the Future report. Additional information is also available online about Minneapolis College’s Schools and Exploratory Majors, and its full list of Programs.

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