Major Exploration and Success Advising offers guidance to prospective, current students

Major Exploration and Success Advising is a source for students who might have second thoughts about their major, helping students by guiding them through their college journey. Lilly Yablon | Photographer

By Rory Dulock | Staff Writer

For prospective or current students who are undecided about their major or are starting to have second thoughts about their choice, Major Exploration and Success Advising is a one-stop shop to receive guidance.

“Major Exploration and Success Advising partners with students, guiding them on their journey to find not only a major that is best suited for them but also to help discern God’s callings at this point in their life,” the MESA website reads.

Dr. Robert Shipp, director of MESA, said the office is fairly new on campus and helps students explore different options.

“Our mission evolved two years ago,” Shipp said.Prior to that, we were known as University Advisement, and we advised pre-majors and undecided students. But with a study and a reorganization of the advising community, we were able to step more into that — exploring majors, undecided student advising — and then really move into the major exploration area.”

While the office does focus on current students, Shipp said it also assists prospective students in hopes of lowering the likelihood they will switch majors upon arrival at Baylor.

“The Department of Education says that 50% of undergraduates that start in a fall will change their major at least one time before the next fall,” Shipp said. “Half the students who are coming to a university will learn about themselves a little bit more. The reason why we’re [helping] prospective students is so they don’t change their major that first time. They can find it before they get here. That’s why we’re offering them the same tools as a continuing student.”

There are 114 majors, and there are a number of ways to get students to explore them. Shipp said the office usually meets with a student more than once to have a couple of different discussions about which major might be the best fit for them.

“We have a couple of tools that help us,” Shipp said.MyMajors is one of those. It’s an online assessment, and it’s on our Major Exploration and Success Advising page. It takes about 15 minutes, and what it’ll provide a student who’s looking — and anybody can do this, a prospective student or a current student — it gives them 10 Baylor majors to explore.”

Shipp said another tool is the ability to refer students to the academic departments on campus. In addition to talking with professors, they can speak with the office’s colleagues in the Career Center.

“[Our Career Center colleagues] want to help you find a career that best fits you,” Shipp said. “From there, we can help you to find a major that fits into that career. Or, we can find the major for you, and then they can help you find a career from that major. They’ve got some other techniques and tools that they can use in conjunction with what we do, and it really helps to explore all of your options.”

Denver senior Sarah Stenger said she started off as an undecided major before becoming a communications major.

“I was undecided until I was a sophomore, so unfortunately, I don’t think that program was available to me for when I was undecided,” Stenger said. “[MESA] would for sure be more helpful for [undecided] students.”

Shipp said students are encouraged to reach out to the office to receive help during their Baylor journey, and they are welcome to email to set up a meeting time.

“If [a student is] in the Sid Richardson Building, stop at the front desk and see if we can set up an appointment for just kind of finding out where you are,” Shipp said. “If you email the MESA address, then one of our advisers will respond back to you and then set up an appointment, or see what you’re needing and see how we can best start that exploratory journey with you.”

Shipp said the MESA staff has a perspective on all the majors and minors on campus, and he encourages students to utilize the office to be able to explore all of the opportunities.

“Find the place that you are most comfortable doing well, and if you find that you’re not doing well, start exploring, start questioning, what is it?” Shipp said.That’s the first step, is to listen to what your life has been telling you. Are you enjoying things is another thing, but also know that you have a whole staff here that can help you to explore and understand what it is to be successful here.”