Advice for undeclared found at center


Maya French

Academic Success Center receptionist Rachael Buccicone at the Academic Success Center Jan. 23.

Alyssa Coleman, Editor-in-Chief

There are over 50 majors in seven academic divisions at Pitt-Johnstown, however, some students have not decided on a major and are labeled undeclared.

Academic Success Center Director Kate Kinsinger said first-year undeclared students are offered services through the center.

“There is a completion of an online advising (session) and scheduling assistance the summer before fall classes,” she said.  

“Undeclared students may choose to attend any of the Academic Planning Days offered over the summer. 

“Students meet one-on-one with advisers during (Academic Planning Days) to discuss their interests, review their course schedules and make changes, and discuss any concerns they may have.”

She said undeclared students participate in a one-credit course in the fall, typically taught by their success center academic adviser, maintaining weekly contact.

“Among the activities of the course, students take the Strong Interest Inventory to match their interests, strengths and preferences with potential majors.

“Students learn about majors available at Pitt-Johnstown and explore potential careers. 

“Students also complete an informational interview with a professional working in a field of interest.”

She said, with the Mentor for Personal Success Program, undeclared students are matched with an upperclassman who can serve as a first-year resource for the first semester.

She also said undeclared first-year students meet with their advisers at least twice in the fall semester outside of class time for one-on-one appointments and have been encouraged to meet as often as they would like.

“For first-year students who continue to be undeclared in the spring, we continue communication and meetings.

“For instance, at the beginning of February, our advisers will reach out to their advisees inviting them to meet with us prior to their appointments to develop a fall 2020 schedule.

“At that time, we’ll encourage students who are ready to commit to a new major to declare so that they can receive advising for their fall schedules from their new advisor.

“For students not ready to declare, we discuss action steps to move forward with an appropriate and thoughtful decision.”

Academic Adviser Leanna Noon said advisers’ work with undeclared students is intrusive, which allows the advisers to know the students early in the advising process.

“Some students are interested in a broad range of academic disciplines and are struggling to identify the major that would be most interesting,” she said.

“Other students are running from a discipline, but maybe haven’t identified a true interest. 

“For example, they know they hate math and want to avoid it, but they aren’t sure what other subject areas they may prefer. 

“Some students are between two or three specific majors, but need time and support in identifying the one they would most want to pursue.”

She said there is a unique group of undeclared students who know exactly what major they want to pursue, but weren’t directly accepted into the major.

“At Pitt-Johnstown, nursing and engineering have higher admissions requirements than other majors,” she said.  

“There is always a group of students who meet admissions requirements for the university but not do not meet the admissions requirements for Nursing or Engineering.

“These students are admitted as undeclared-no nursing or undeclared-no engineering,” she said.  

“These students are not truly exploratory, but are working to earn admission into the engineering or nursing programs.”

“Students are paired in classes taught by their academic adviser, so they have the opportunity to speak with their adviser every week,” she said.

“In addition, we build-in additional one-on-one meetings throughout the semester during important milestones.”