Adelphi University has received the prestigious Innovative Academic Support Initiative award from the American College Personnel Association's Commission for Academic Support in Higher Education (CASHE).

The American College Personnel Association’s Commission for Academic Support in Higher Education award recognizes Adelphi’s innovative personalized approach to academic support for students who have not decided what they will major in.

“Adelphi is very focused on giving students personalized attention. This is especially true for our students who haven’t declared a major yet,” said Andrea Ward, PhD, interim associate provost for student success at Adelphi. “This recognition by CASHE reaffirms the success of our commitment to offering creative, fresh solutions for our students to create their own unique academic path.”

Since Fall 2019, Adelphi has focused on helping its undecided students to turn their interests into programs of study. One initiative includes new interdisciplinary 360 seminars offered through the College of Arts and Sciences. Each 360 course focuses on a general topic and is led by a faculty member from departments ranging from art and anthropology to Latinx/Latin American studies and African, Black and Caribbean studies. Faculty members from other disciplines teach at least one class, tackling the topic from their perspective to offer a wider, 360-degree view of the subject matter.

According to Tandra Chakraborty, PhD, Adelphi’s interim associate dean for student success and strategic initiatives, at least two 360 courses will be offered every semester. “The courses are interdisciplinary and can be taken by all students,” said Dr. Chakraborty. The different perspectives of various faculty, varied topics and interactive nature of the courses appeal to the students. Undeclared students get a chance to explore courses and decide their future paths.”

“We believe in the 360 courses as an innovative way of exposing students to a number of different disciplines in one course,” said Margaret Lally ’82, associate dean of faculty programs. “Topics such as water, food and race are explored from multiple perspectives, contributing to our commitment to interdisciplinary learning.”

With the success of the 360 courses, Adelphi’s College of Arts and Sciences created the PATH program, another way for undecided students to focus their curriculum and achieve their goals. PATH—Preparation, Awareness, Transformation, Hands-On Learning—gears the General Education course load toward self-discovery, shared experience, diverse and inclusive instruction, and socially engaged community action, with required classes facilitating a more well-rounded, holistic approach to education and student success.

Jacqueline Johnson, PhD, associate professor of sociology and interim department chair, noted: “We want our students to reimagine their place within the community. Every step on the PATH is designed to help students succeed in studies, find their strengths and thrive in an ever-changing society.”

Adelphi faculty recently revised Adelphi’s entire General Education program to help students, especially undeclared and undecided students, find their way to a degree program and career objective.

Another innovation for undecided students is a series of guided workshops organized by the College of Arts and Sciences. The most popular workshop, in conjunction with the Office of Academic Services and Retention, teaches students how to approach registering for classes, including what to think about—their strengths and weaknesses—before meeting with their adviser. Additional workshops are offered through the Center for Career and Professional Development, the Center for International Education, the Innovation Center, and the Learning and Writing Centers.

The results of these initiatives are promising. Between Fall 2019 and Fall 2022, the number of undecided students decreased 21 percent, from 285 to 224. And in Fall 2019, undecided students represented 12 percent of new undergraduates compared with 9 percent in Fall 2022.

To maintain the momentum of this success, Adelphi is introducing a new cohort teaching model for First-Year Seminars. In this collaborative cohort, run by Salvatore Petrilli ’05, EdD, associate dean for academic operations and General Education, College of Arts and Sciences faculty teach courses with related themes to multiple classes. Throughout the semester, all students taking the courses are introduced to interdisciplinary studies and come together to engage in a speaker event or trip related to the themes. After the First-Year Seminar class, students then take the 360 course.

Learn more about Adelphi’s College of Arts and Sciences.

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