New policy encourages students to choose major

Bethany English

Mary Mandeville, freshman exploratory major, is feeling “a little rushed” about making a decision for her major.

Kent State implemented a new policy this semester that requires students to make a decision about their major once they reach 45 credit hours. This policy will affect students listed as exploratory or general in certain colleges.

Provost Robert Frank said this will reduce the number of students on campus at risk for not graduating in six years because students who do not decide on a major tend to take longer to graduate or don’t graduate at all.

According to Kent State’s website, 8.8 percent of all Kent State freshmen are classified as exploratory students.

Frank said this high number isn’t a concern for the university because he expects students to explore the university’s options as freshmen. After 45 hours, roughly three terms, he said most students should have a solid idea of what they want to do as a career.

But for Mandeville, the decision will need to be made soon.

She entered Kent State with more than 20 credit hours from post-secondary classes. Instead of deciding on a major as a sophomore, Mandeville will need to choose at the end of her freshman year.

Top 5 first-time freshmen majors

1. Exploratory: 1,749 total, 8.8 percent of all freshmen

2. Nursing: 857 total, 4.3 percent of all freshmen

3. Pre-Business Management: 703 total, 3.5 percent of all freshmen

4. Psychology: 687 total, 3.5 percent of all freshmen

5. Fashion Merchandising: 683 total, 3.4 percent of all freshmen.

Source: Student Body Profile,

While the policy requires students to choose a degree-granting major after 45 credit hours, Frank said it is flexible and open to each college’s interpretation.

“It’s about setting expectations more than rules,” Frank said. If undecided students are still unsure once they have 45 hours completed, they have to meet with an adviser to plan for their progress toward their degree.

Frank said it was just as unhelpful to force students into making a decision as it is to have students collecting credit hours in a program that doesn’t offer a degree.

Jude Rule, director of the exploratory advising center, said she thinks the 45 credit-hour policy is a great idea because it will encourage students to make decisions about their future. She said once students decide on a path, they stand a better chance of succeeding toward their end goal.

“If you don’t know where you’re going, how are you going to know when you get there?” Rule said.

Mandeville agreed that the policy is mostly positive because it will keep students from wasting their time.

Though she will need to decide shortly, Mandeville said she thinks 45 credit hours gives students a fair amount of time to figure out what they enjoy and what they don’t.

The exploratory program offers students ways to learn about different majors and career choices in order to help students with their decisions.

Rule said the Exploratory Advising Office hosted a major fair a few weeks ago, an event she wants to take place regularly. An adviser from Career Services also comes in once a week to meet with exploratory majors.

The new policy will require more of students, whether it be meeting with an advisor or coming to a decision.

“This puts the responsibility on them,” Rule said. “If they are going to find their path, they have to seek it.”

Contact Bethany English at [email protected] .