Undecided students can still graduate in four years

Compass Program kicks off at Feb. 19 information session

Students who enter college undecided about their major face many challenges, including the fear of wasted time and money, as well as parents who aren’t sure they want to invest in education without an end game in mind.

To address this issue, Mount Mary University has created the Compass Year, a yearlong program that provides career, vocational and self-exploration, along with core classes, designed to set students on track to graduate in four years.

Entering college undecided about a major is commonplace among first-year students. Most students – as many as 80 percent in some surveys – will switch majors at one point during their time in college, according to the industry news service Inside Higher Ed.

"People are most happy when using their greatest gifts.”

Christine Pharr, Ph.D
Mount Mary University President

“There is much uncertainty and stress for an 18-year-old who wants to go to college but doesn’t have a clear direction,” said Mount Mary President Christine Pharr, Ph.D. “Through this program, students can identify careers that will allow them to make their greatest contributions to society and achieve fulfillment in their lives.

“People are most happy when using their greatest gifts,” Pharr said. “This objective fits in well with the mission of Mount Mary.”

Current studies show a lack of career fulfillment in the workplace. An estimated 87 percent of American workers aren’t passionate about their careers, according to the Deloitte Center for the Edge.

Mount Mary’s Compass Year is the only coordinated program of its kind in the Midwest, according to Wendy Weaver, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Humanities, Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies.

“The Compass Year is a unique opportunity for undecided women to find their passion, understand themselves and discern their purpose,” Weaver said. “The entire program is designed to destigmatize the status of being undecided.”

The Compass Year incorporates practices that have proven successful in career advising and guidance, such as:

  • The ability to pursue classes immediately in basic core areas of interest, known as “meta majors.”
  • Pairing with faculty advisors specially trained to work with undecided students.
  • Classes in their first year introducing them to possible career options.
  • Access to mentors, experiential learning and job-shadowing opportunities.
  • Cohort-based learning that provides support and structure throughout the discovery process.
  • Guided self-assessment resources that identify their interests and strengths.
  • Purpose-driven leadership learning through a core curriculum that includes classes such as Leadership for Social Justice and Search for Meaning.
  • Continued access to individualized counseling if the student has not chosen a major by the end of her first year.

For more information, or to register for the Feb. 19 program, True North: Compass Year at Mount Mary, visit mtmary.edu/compass.