UR prides itself on an open curriculum that fosters experimentation and wide-ranging academic interests. Accordingly, many students take advantage of the curriculum’s flexibility to take a variety of courses across many disciplines during their freshman and sophomore years without being locked into declaring a specific course of study.
Problematically, however, UR begins to send email communication advertising the major declaration process to students at the beginning of sophomore year. While it is important that students are advised of this important process and notified about information sessions explaining it, the communication is overly vigorous and misleading, causing many students to believe that they must declare a major during sophomore year, when in fact this is not a requirement until fall semester of junior year.
Many of the emails sent to sophomores, especially in the spring, encourage students to declare a major so that they can participate in the Major Declaration Celebration. The emails inform students of a deadline by which they must declare a major in order to participate in the celebration, but fail to clarify that this date is not in fact the deadline by which students must declare a major. The wording of this communication unnecessarily pressures students into declaring a major when some could benefit from the extra time to decide. Students should not be prematurely pressured into a decision because of a deadline for a celebration which leads students to believe that this deadline also stands as the University’s deadline for major declaration.
For some students, delaying the declaration of a major can impact financial aid. It would therefore be prudent for UR to communicate separately to these students the need to expedite declaring a major. However, for other students who might want to continue to think about a major over the summer or whose academic goals might change during this time period, the communication could easily and effectively be adjusted to elucidate the actual hard and fast deadline for major declaration.
It is commendable that UR and the Dean of Sophomores make information about a crucial academic process readily available to students; however, the unclear nature of this communication is unnecessarily stressful given the fact that declaring a major by the end of sophomore year is not required.