Smart Q & A: Is it Better to Apply “Undecided” or Declare a Major?
Jun21

Smart Q & A: Is it Better to Apply “Undecided” or Declare a Major?

Smart Q & A is a new service on SmartCollegeVisit where readers submit a question related to college visits or the college admissions process and we’ll have an expert advisor provide an answer. To kick things off, Christina McIntyre, associate director for University Honors at Virginia Tech, founder of BecomeAlum, and president of Innovative Academic Solutions, answers questions related to academic planning. What’s your question? You ask the smart questions and we’ll provide the answers. You’re invited to submit your questions using the comment form below or post them to our Facebook Page. Answers will be published in a post on this blog. QUESTION: Is it better to apply “undecided” or declare a major and change it later? ANSWER: This is a great question and the answer will likely vary from one school to another. However, it’s an appropriate question to ask during a campus visit. I would recommend asking whether you should declare a major when visiting a variety of offices on the same campus to see if there is a consistent or varying message. The answer may even vary within a given university when it comes to specific programs. In general if you are truly undecided starting university under this category is the best place to be. You are sending a clear signal “I’m searching for who I want to become.” Often times colleges and universities will have specific classes, workshops or other opportunities for undecided students that can help you explore a variety of fields as well as work through honest self-evaluation that will help you to truly identify an area of study that compliments your passion and where you can find fulfillment. If you are certain you want to declare a major and enter a specific program (i.e. Architecture) but are concerned that you wouldn’t be admitted because it may have higher standards than applying as “undecided” then, you really should ask the admissions representative “How many students move from “undecided” (or another major) to Architecture after they are a student here?” As you compare schools, look closely at which schools have restricted majors and what are the qualifications to get into the majors. You may notice differences between universities. Keep in mind that the majority of college students change their major at least once. Declaring yourself as undecided should not be a stigma. This is an important decision that is worthy of investing your time and energy. In most cases students who declare they are undecided are more honest (with themselves) than their peers. *** Got a question for an advisor? Submit your question via the comment form below. Comments regarding the post are...

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Top Take Aways from BecomeAlum on CampusChat
Jun03

Top Take Aways from BecomeAlum on CampusChat

Christina McIntyre, BecomeAlum founder, shared her college advising insights on #CampusChat, June 2, 2010. The main topic was academic planning and covered everything from deciding on a major to graduation rates to paying for college. It was a fascinating discussion with terrific input from all who participated. Here are some of the top take-aways from Christina: Look up grad rates on collegeresults.org then ask schools how they are trying to improve Coming to an advising meeting with a plan of study really impresses an advisor and starts the dialog It can be very telling during a visit to school w/ low graduation rate to ask a variety of people what they are doing to improve During a visit ask about advising. If you type "Advising" on a college website what comes up? This can be telling. 4-year graduation rate = 38%;  6 yr rate = ~ 60% at US college/universities It was clear that better academic planning is needed to meet enrollment, graduation, and financial goals for students and institutions. To read the entire exchange, click on the transcript link below. Transcript for #campuschat 06/02/10 Feel free to contact Christina McIntyre via email at: [email protected], on Twitter @BecomeAlum,  and visit BecomeAlum.com to learn more about how their academic planning tool can impact student...

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The 5W’s of CampusChat with Christina McIntyre
Jun02

The 5W’s of CampusChat with Christina McIntyre

#CampusChat: 9 PM Eastern, June 2, 2010  WHO – Tonight's guest is Christina McIntyre, founder of BecomeAlum Christina's experience in academic advising spans 14 years at Virginia Tech. By working with students to provide advice and direction, she identified that students need tools to provide structure to their academic planning. She designed BecomeAlum to meet those needs. BecomeAlum is an online academic planning tool for college students that guides college students through the complexities of meeting degree requirements.  From freshman year through graduation, and even graduate school, BecomeAlum keeps students on track to meet their academic goals. Christina is a member of the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA), and National Association of Fellowship Advisors (NAFA). She is pictured with husband and co-founder, Jim McIntyre. #CampusChat is hosted by Kelly Queijo, founder of Smart College Visit, Inc. WHAT – #CampusChat on Twitter WHERE – Twitter, What the Hashtag, TweetChat, …other/your Twitter tool of choice WHEN – 9 PM ET June 2, 2010 WHY – Christina spent 14 years as an academic advisor at Virginia Tech and is currently the associate director of Virginia Tech's University Honors Program. On top of that, she's developed a tool for academic planning that helps students plan their college careers, meet graduation requirements, and adjust their plans knowing what the impact will be when changes are necessary. Related Reading: Rackspace Tech Showcase – BecomeAlum Founders: Dream, Plan, Realize Together – Handshake 2.0 BecomeAlum – Blue Ridge Business Journal Honors Programs: Get an Ivy-League Education at a Public School – SmartCollegeVisit How to Rock on a Twitter Chat – Handshake 2.0 Twitter Tools for #CampusChat – SmartCollegeVisit 3 Easy Ways to Keep in Step with a Twitter Chat – Handshake 2.0...

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Top 10 Questions for the Undecided Major
Mar10

Top 10 Questions for the Undecided Major

Applying undecided is fine, provided the college in question has a good program for helping new students explore available majors. Deciding where to apply is just one of the important decision points on the path to college. Deciding which major to choose is another, and with many schools offering anywhere from 40 – 70 majors, the number of choices alone can be overwhelming. The good news is that it’s usually OK to enter college as “undecided.” Many schools offer freshmen experience or introductory programs to help students navigate the choices and make good decisions about their futures.  If you’re not sure about what to declare as your major, or what impact entering college as “undecided” will have on your future options, we suggest asking the following questions during your campus visit: Q1: What guidance do students receive towards helping identify a major that would be a good fit? Q2: Is there a course students should take the first semester to help in the search for a major? Q3: What is the average time to a degree for a student who enters the university “undecided?” Q4: What majors are restricted? Q5: What are the restrictions? Q6: Is there an application process for restricted majors? Q7: Is the restriction capacity or performance driven? Q8: How likely is it that a student who meets the qualifications will be able to enter a specific restricted major? Q9: What is the percentage of students who apply for a restricted major who get accepted? Q10: How many students typically enter your school as undecided? *** Christina McIntyre, developer of BecomeAlum, an academic planning tool for enrolled students, recommended the above list of questions as follow up to an earlier post: BecomeAlum Founder on Planning Your College...

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