Encourage students to declare a program of study upon admission, intervene if a declaration is not made by the end of the second term, and require declaration by the end of their third term in order to maintain enrollment priority.
Declaring a major or program of study is more specific than declaring a broad educational goal such as earning an associate degree or transferring to a four-year college. Declaring a program of study sets incoming students on a specific educational pathway and builds early momentum for their success. Research from the Institute for Higher Education Leadership and Policy shows that students who entered a program in their first year were twice as likely to complete a certificate, degree, or transfer as students who entered a program after their first year. First-year concentrators were nearly 50 percent more likely to complete than those who entered a program in their second year, and the rates of completion fell sharply for students entering a program of study later than their second year. A student who is unable to declare a major or program of study by the end of their second term should be provided counseling and career planning interventions to assist them. Students who fail to declare a program of study after their third term should lose enrollment priority.
Nothing would preclude a student from changing their direction and declaring a new program of study but the implications of change, in terms of cost and time to completion, should be made clear. In addition, students would have the ability to appeal a loss of enrollment priority.