Undecided Students

Students who are exploring their options for major(s), as well as students questioning whether their declared or intended major is a good fit.

Group of students laying in a circle

Tips for Advising

Background on Exploring Students at the U

At the U of M, 75% of incoming first-year students are at some level of exploration when it comes to choosing a major (Pre-Orientation TUAY Survey, 2017), as well as 45% of incoming transfer students.  It is likely that all of us who have direct contact with students will come across students who are exploring or questioning majors at some time during their time on campus.

It is important to reassure first-year students that it is very common to still be exploring, and to leverage their liberal education coursework to help them try out a few options.  Studies suggest that students who take between 1-4 terms to declare tend to graduate earlier than students who start off declared, and change their major fewer times overall. However, if exploration lasts beyond this timeframe, delaying graduation becomes much more likely. This timeline also varies depending on the number of credits required for a given major (which can vary considerably by program).

Understand How Degree Programs Differ

At the U of M, our college structure presents some additional challenges to exploration. It is very important to be aware of the differences in college transfer requirements and prerequisites to majors when working with students who are considering a change in U of M college. In addition, some majors at the U are heavily sequenced and require several years to complete once the student starts in the program. Most engineering majors in the College of Science and Engineering and most majors in the College of Design are examples of programs that require a significant amount of sequenced studio or lab coursework before graduation. The Major Profiles are a great resource to bookmark to reference degree information, department websites, career info by major, and more.

The Solution: The Center for Academic Planning & Exploration (CAPE)

The Center for Academic Planning & Exploration (CAPE) is a central resource on campus that offers 1-1 coaching, major exploration workshops, a 1-credit exploration course, peer mentoring, and more to students who are undecided or exploring majors. CAPE also hosts the annual Major/Minor Expo in February.

NOTE: CAPE coaches are also available to facilitate advising staff training around CAPE and/or working with exploring students. Please contact any of our staff directly to request a training.

Referring Students

Who to Refer to CAPE

Advisors are encouraged to refer current, degree-seeking students directly to CAPE. In general, students who are a “good fit” for CAPE are those that are:

  • Strongly undecided and need help with the exploration process OR
  • Interested in 2 or more majors across colleges at the U of M Twin Cities OR
  • Looking at a major that will require an admission process and may need a parallel plan

Advisors can refer students to numerous CAPE resources, including:

In addition to sharing CAPE's website and contact information, advisors can also refer students to CAPE by adding a referral tag in APLUS. CAPE follows-up with each student who has been referred through APLUS.

As we strive to connect students to CAPE resources as quickly as possible, we recommend referring students first to our front desk in 511 Bruininks Hall and/or our general phone number  (612-624-3076) as opposed to referring to a specific coach. If advisors would like to consult with a CAPE coach about a student, you are invited to contact one of the coaches directly or call our front desk and ask to be connected with a coach.

Due to limited resources, CAPE services are limited to degree seeking undergraduate students. Please consult with a CAPE coach for possible exceptions (examples: PSEO students, students accepted for transfer to the U, students on academic suspension).