A Roadmap to Help Students Struggling in STEM
One of the challenges students face early in their college career is finding the right academic fit. Historical data show that students who struggle early in key STEM classes are less likely to succeed and are at a higher risk of dropping out.
Up to 75% of students who earn lower than C- on their first STEM test(s) end up failing or dropping the course(s). In addition, students frequently learn that STEM is not a good fit for them early in their first semester, but, in the past, they were stuck in the major and courses for the semester or even a year.
Major Switch was created to give these students the opportunity to transfer to non-STEM major courses mid-semester, save their GPAs, and get on the road to finding the right academic fit.
How does Major Switch work?
If a student is failing two or more of the designated courses after the first exams, they will be contacted and invited to consider Major Switch. After consulting with their academic advisor, the student will decide if Major Switch is right for them.
Students who elect to participate in Major Switch will be allowed to drop the designated classes and add non-major sections of the courses and the student will transfer permanently to a non-STEM major. Students confer with academic advisors to decide what majors are available to them. Students who are struggling – but not failing – and wish to leave STEM fields may also participate.
UT first offered the Major Switch option in Fall 2013. After three years of the program, we are pleased to show that students who participate are thriving. For Fall 2013 FTICs (first time in college), 79.6% of those who participated in Major Switch are persisting at UT while only 58.7% of switch-eligible students who did NOT participate in Major Switch are persisting at UT.
In Fall 2015, 58% of students who earned lower than C- on their first Chemistry test and did NOT participate in Major Switch ended up failing or dropping the course, and only 1% earned an A. However, 93% of students who participated in Major Switch passed Chemistry, and 24% earned an A.