With more than 95 majors to choose from, many BYU-Idaho students struggle figuring out what they want to study their freshman year. To help undecided students select a major more effectively, the Office of Interdisciplinary Studies is launching a pilot program this fall called Freshman Focus Areas.
New freshmen students that opt-in to the program for their first semester choose one of seven general focus areas. These focus areas will expose the students to multiple fields of study to choose from, allowing the students to discover a major they might be passionate about.
Students in the Freshman Focus Areas program will also be placed into cohorts and will take three classes together. The cohorts will be made up of the Get Connected groups students already participate with during freshman orientation. This cohort organization will give students a support network of other participants in the program who share similar interests.
Danae Romrell, dean of Interdisciplinary Studies, says after months of researching similar programs across the country, she feels confident this program could provide the assistance new students require at BYU-Idaho.
“Once the students are in the program, we help them know which classes to take—classes that will help them explore careers in the majors that they chose. Then we provide them with cohorts and access to professional career counselors and extracurricular activities,” Romrell said.
Further, Romrell explained that students who participate in the Freshman Focus Areas program will be at an advantage for making more informed decisions on their choice of major. Studies have shown that these informative programs reduce the number of major changes, improve freshman retention, increase overall GPA, and accelerate the time it takes for students to graduate.
Romrell also said program participants will be made up of students who really want to uncover their interests at BYU-Idaho.
“Signing up for Freshman Focus Areas shows that students are being proactive and actively searching for a major,” Romrell said.
The pilot program for Freshman Focus this coming fall will include around 250 students. The participants will study with a cohort in one of seven focus areas:
1) Fine Arts
2) Business, Communication, & Management
3) Family & Social Science
4) Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math (STEM)
5) Biology, Agriculture, & Health Science
7) Humanities, Languages, & Public Service
With each following semester, the university plans to expand the program to better fit the needs of incoming students.
In preparation for the upcoming Freshman Focus Areas program, the university has campaigned for incoming freshmen to opt-in and inform faculty and employees of the program so they are aware of the new offering. These platforms include faculty academic discussions, social media posts, radio announcements, emails, text campaigns, and news articles.
For more information on the Freshman Focus Areas program, visit the Freshman Focus Areas Webpage. If you know of a prospective BYU-Idaho student that could benefit from the Freshman Focus Areas program, share the link to the interest form.