Compass Year program for undecided students grows by 56 percent

Students now awarded $1,000 scholarships upon enrollment

When the Compass Year program launched in 2019, advisors Beth Felch and Katie Dougherty set out to provide strong resources and guidance to first-year students who have yet to declare a major.  

This yearlong program for first-year students involves intensive career exploration through specialized courses, strategic advising and personalized guidance that enables students to discover the best career and educational path for them.


Learn about the
Compass Year

• A number of webinars for
prospective students and parents will be held in spring. 

• A program for students, “How to Pick a College Major,” will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 8. Parent webinars will be held Feb. 24 and April 7.

• For more information on the Compass Year or to RSVP for these events, visit

The first cohort consisted of 16 students. Today there are 25 students enrolled in the program, representing a 56% student increase. Next year, Mount Mary anticipates enrolling 30 students in this program.

“There is an increase of undecided students because the program eases the pressure to determine a major,” said Dougherty. “When students find out we have a program that makes it okay to be undecided, it puts them at ease.” 

The semester starts with a three-day summer jump start to introduce students to their cohort and advisors. Each semester, students take career and major exploration classes alongside their regular academic classes. As the semester concludes, students should feel confident enough to make a decision on their majors.

The premise of the program, to identify a major, has indeed proven successful. In the first semester of the program, over 62% of students chose their majors. By the end of the year, only one student decided to remain undecided, and she has continued to take advantage of the services Advising and Career Development offers.  

This fall, Mount Mary began offering $1,000 scholarships to students who enter the Compass Year program.

“I’m 100% confident that any young lady who starts in compass will come out set for success,” said Kaitlyn McKnight, who completed her Compass Year in 2020.

“In the Compass Year program, you are a part of a community that supports who you are, helps you determine your skills and interests, and cheers you along as you determine your purpose and passion in life,” Dougherty said.