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Exploratory Students

Exploratory Resource Center

Exploratory Students: A Chance to Examine Your Options

  • Intellectual exploration lies at the very heart of a liberal arts education. Exploratory students realize that there is value in examining their academic options in a serious, systematic approach before declaring a major.
  • The "undeclared" or exploratory category was created to give students freedom to examine their academic options. Students wishing to pursue baccalaureate degrees in the College of Arts and Sciences who have not yet chosen majors and who have completed no more than 55 degree credit hours may enter the College as exploratory students. Students are allowed to remain in exploratory status for a limited period before declaring a major.   
  • There is great value in exploring, and a good economic argument that justifies the time and search effort spent in this category. Students who explore wisely, not only in searching for a major, but in using all the campus resources available to them in preparation for a career or graduate school, will profit by the effort.

Meet the College Exploratory Student Advisor

William E. Smith III, PhD
Sycamore Hall 123
Appointments are arranged by email (wsmithii at indiana.edu). Walk-ins are available.

Choosing a Major and Pitfalls to Avoid

As an exploratory student, you can take a systematic approach to find the right major for you. For example, you can do a self-assessment by listing your interests and abilities and continue to keep a journal with notes about your search for a major, take introductory courses in subjects you’re interested in, and use the resources of the Career Development Center to explore possibilities. Also, you will want to keep in contact with the advisor for exploratory students as you consider different majors.

Be aware of the following pitfalls: Your Academic Advising Report (available in OneStart) may not always provide you with the best information.

  • The report is generated on the general education requirements for a B.A. degree. Students pursuing a B.S. will have a different set of general education requirements, and a greater number of courses to be taken in the major.
  • You should avoid taking any courses pass/fail until you have declared a major. Students may only take electives pass/fail. If you take a course pass/fail, and later decide to major in the area studied, you will be unable to have that course count in the major.
  • GPAs for transfer students may not be accurate until a major is declared. The grades for students transferring to IUB from outside the IU system are not normally calculated into the IU GPA, except in the major.
  • If a transfer student majors in an area, and has courses from another university outside the IU system in the same area, grades for those courses will be factored into the student’s major GPA. This could be useful information when planning a major.

Advising Resources

Here are some links to the basic information tools every student needs to build and execute an academic plan:

  • The College Bulletin and Supplement: Look here first to find out about academic requirements and course descriptions. Read the Bulletin to prepare yourself to talk to an academic advisor.
  • Academic Advisors: Once you have taken coursework in a particular field of study, make an appointment with an advisor to ask more specific questions about the major and degree requirements.
  • The Schedule of Classes: Most students seem to be more familiar with this website found in OneStart than any other.  What many students do not do, however, is cross-reference the information found here with course descriptions in the Bulletin.
  • The Academic Advising Report: Students can access a report that describes their progress toward obtaining a degree and remaining degree requirements online through Onestart. It is important for students to become familiar with their AARs, and to raise any questions they may have about the report or their degree requirements with their advisors. Details about accessing and reading the AAR are available here and here.

The College Recorder’s Office: These are the answer people. Check with the Recorder’s Office in Owen Hall, if you need to pick up forms or if you need a quick answer to a question.