Change in UMass, Amherst Admissions Policy
Posted on Thursday March 15th 2012
Recently, a multi-department group examined the academic records of juniors admitted to the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Data indicates that these students are at risk, since they have reached a critical point in their academic careers without making a determination about the direction for their degree studies. Our own University Advising office works diligently with UMass Amherst freshmen and sophomores in order to assist them to select a major as early in their academic careers as is reasonable. Doing so allows students to make appropriate degree progress, increases their chance of graduating on-time, and gives them personal academic goals that continue to motivate them to be successful throughout the remainder of their degree programs.
It is very difficult for students to arrive here as juniors without a major identified, especially those entering with the Commonwealth Transfer Compact or MassTransfer Block, because their general education requirements are, for the most part, complete, and they must now register for courses in their major. When they arrive at our New Students orientation program for advising and registration, they are unable to register because (1) most do not need general education coursework and (2) it is impossible to progress with a major yet to be determined.
Change in Policy
Given what we have learned about transfer students entering as juniors, we have changed our admissions policy.
Effective Fall 2012, we will no longer admit any juniors as undeclared majors. For that subset of juniors who enter as Massachusetts community college graduates in approved programs, this new policy is not in conflict with the Joint Admissions or MassTransfer agreements, as students are guaranteed admission to the college or school most closely related to their major. We have no “undeclared” college or major; nor can students graduate with a general liberal studies major, since we do not offer one. However, quite simply, it is not in the best interests of students to enter their junior year without a declared major.
There are two groups of Joint Admissions or MassTransfer students who will be affected by this policy.
First, there are the “true” undeclared majors, those who have not yet identified a major. In our Fall 2010 entering class, the class whose academic progress we followed, there were only a handful of these students. We are asking you to work diligently with these students, just as we work diligently with our freshmen and sophomores, to assist them to identify a major prior to junior status.
The other group of students is comprised of students who are not eligible for their first-choice majors, which are selective, and they have no “plan B” major. In this case, we are asking you to work diligently with these students, to assure that their academic expectations are reasonable and consistent with their academic records. In both cases, good advising is essential.
We have revised our Intent to Enroll form to include information about this new policy.
Senior Associate Director of Admissions
University of Massachusetts Amherst