The Persistence and Retention of First-Year Business Undecided Students

My name is Jake Cameron and I am a rising senior Arts and Entertainment Management major at Pace University. I was very fortunate during my freshman year to be extremely involved in the AEM program, as I was able to meet with professors early on, meet upperclassmen and alumni, and also begin laying the groundwork for how I want to shape my college career. However, I know many of my classmates were not as active.

Since I was a sophomore, I have been a UNV Peer Leader under the supervision of Carolyn Endick, who is the Assistant Director of New Student Programs. For every student who attends Pace University, they must first take UNV 101 during their first semester. During this class, they are given an introduction to the university and the many different departments/assets that are a part of it as well. Additionally, the students also learn separate ideas of how to manage their time in college, how to create their schedules for different semesters, how to navigate New York City, etc. Their homework and projects involve going to events hosted by Pace’s clubs/organizations, and creating a 4-year plan that they can adjust as they continue on their college career.

While working with Carolyn in two separate UNV business classes, we’ve seen a variety of different students that have struggled with their adjustment into college. One particular difficult adjustment is found frequently in the many undecided business students that have been in our classes. While they are taking the exact same classes as business students with declared majors, they are overwhelmed or unmotivated to navigate within the array of clubs/organizations of particular majors and find difficulty finding a community of students who have similar professional goals to them.

This had led Carolyn and me to pursue research in the realm of undecided business students, and what we, as educators for UNV 101, can do to help students find their footing and major in college. What we are hoping to do is interview and poll a variety of different business students, and how they were able to finally pick their major. We also will be analyzing other universities’ freshman year seminars and how they also combat this type of student.

Our goal for the end of this project is to take our learnings from this Summer and apply it to our UNV 101 class in the Fall, which will be primarily filled with undecided business students. We would like to see how many students choose their major by the end of their first semester, and then, after their freshmen year, how many are still undecided. We want to also interview these students and see the influences that impacted their decisions, whether that be in-class experiences or out-of-class experiences. With that information, we hope to find the true motivational key that is seen in successful business students.