The Yale College Dean’s Office recently announced plans to release roadmaps for College majors, in an effort to make academic decisions easier for students.
The roadmap program, spearheaded by Senior Associate Dean Pamela Schirmeister, will lay out the different ways in which students in Yale College can complete each major on the website of the Dean’s Office. Though currently in the pilot stage, Schirmeister said she hopes that the feedback from the first few majors will help improve the maps and make it possible to implement them across all departments.
“In spite of the dedicated advising within the departments, many students are still confused about how to navigate their way through their majors,” Schirmeister said. “The roadmaps are meant to provide quick and easy clarification.”
The departments involved in the pilot program are History of Art, Political Science, Chemistry and Environmental Studies. According to Schirmeister, the pilot program was originally intended to target STEM majors only, but the Dean’s Office subsequently decided to expand the program to include some of the largest majors at Yale in order to get the most feedback.
The idea of the roadmaps emerged from the need to improve the freshman advising program, Schirmeister said.
“In order to implement these revisions, it was determined that we would need expanded and improved electronic resources that students could use in determining their academic schedules,” she said. “The roadmap project is meant to address that need in part.”
The maps are created and designed through a partnership between members of the academic department and a graphic designer. Paul Sabin ’92, the director of undergraduate studies for the environmental studies major, described the process as a “back and forth” in which both parties attempted to present the material as clearly as possible.
“We hope that the roadmaps will provide an easy way for undergraduates to understand the bachelor of art and bachelor of science pathways in the Environmental Studies major and to compare Environmental Studies to other majors that they might be considering,” Sabin said.
Professors interviewed in the departments for the pilot program all expressed hope that these maps would be useful for students in their respective majors.
Along with mapping out the difference between, for example, bachelor of art and bachelor of science pathways, the roadmaps also lay out the differences between different pathways within majors, Schirmeister told the News.
“Since political science has a few different tracks, I expect students will find it particularly useful,” said David Simon, the director of undergraduate studies for political science.
Simon added that, as a faculty member, he too would find these maps useful. Beyond helping to plan out a student’s four years at Yale, the maps should help students view their standing within the major, especially if they switch into the major relatively late, Simon noted.
The maps will help to specify the requirements necessary to complete the major and provide an easy way to visualize the process, he added.
“The graphic presentation breaks them down and makes it easier to read at a glance,” said Kishwar Rizvi, an associate professor in the History of Art Department.
Rizvi also noted that when looking forward, the maps would be especially useful for showing how pre-professional programs such as premedical requirements fit into certain majors, such as the history of art major.
According to Schirmeister, the office is currently seeking input and ultimately plans to create roadmaps for the 20 largest majors at Yale this summer. The pilot roadmaps are now posted online for students to “vet.”
“Ideally, we will eventually have the capability for each student to have a unique roadmap that will tell them where they are in the course of their major,” Schirmeister said.
There are currently 80 majors offered in Yale College.