Beginning this semester, the academic advising office has adopted a new policy that restricts when students can make changes to their academic programs.
Beginning in Spring 2019, students may only make changes to their majors, minors, or academic advisors between the second and seventh week of the semester. This semester, changes can only be made from Jan. 14 through Feb. 22.
According to Dianna Spycher, director of academic advising, this change was implemented in order to ensure that students have an advisor in their major prior to registration.
“Seventy-five percent of Baldwin Wallace students change their majors three times,” said Spycher. “And that actually poses a problem for advising: if you’re constantly changing your major, you’re constantly getting a new advisor.”
By restricting the timeline in which students can make changes to their academic program, students will not find themselves in the bind of trying to register for classes without an advisor in their major, said Spycher. She said she hopes this policy will help encourage students to make changes to their academic programs with “some intentionality.”
“We want students to be very thoughtful about the major that they are selecting and come into our office, declare their major so that we can assign an advisor prior to registration,” said Spycher.
The decision to limit the timeframe from the second week of the term to the seventh was based around the registration schedule, said Spycher. With the new policy, academic program changes will not overlap with registration.
Although the policy is newly official, Spycher said her office has been following it for the past three semesters.
“When students came in, we didn’t make their major changes and advisor changes during registration,” said Spycher. “So, this isn’t necessarily new, it’s just [a] new way that we’ve communicated it.”
Baldwin Wallace is not alone in imposing restrictions on when students can change their academic programs. Other schools take a range of approaches to this issue. Some, like BW, impose a timeline; others require students to have a minimum number of earned credits or a minimum GPA before they can make changes to their academic programs.
“There’s lots of different models for this. We are certainly not the only school that has a timeframe around the change,” said Spycher.
Some schools impose even further restrictions on academic program changes: some don’t allow students to change their academic program after their junior year. While BW requires that students declare their minor or double-major by their junior year, the school does not currently impose restrictions on the semesters in which a student can change their major or minor.
Spycher said that she hopes that this policy will allow students to make informed decisions about their academic program with the help of a faculty advisor in the appropriate department.
“It’s with an eye towards making sure that the advising relationship is really strong, and that students are able to register on time and get the classes they want — and the classes they need for their intended major,” said Spycher.