The Albright Alpha Program
(For Undecided / Undeclared Students)
Some students enter college knowing exactly what they want to major in and exactly what career field they want to enter upon graduation. For many, however, things are a little less certain – they may need to explore different possibilities to find the right fit. If the second profile describes you, then Alpha Program at Albright College is designed specifically for you. Through academic guidance, peer support, special events and career counseling, the Alpha Program will help you to choose the appropriate major, as well as assist you in finding a fulfilling career.
If you have questions about the Alpha Program, contact the Director of the Center for Experiential Learning and Career Development or the Dean of Undergraduate Studies.
What Does It Mean to Be “Undeclared”?
Alpha, the first letter in the Greek alphabet, symbolizes a beginning. First-year college students experience one of the most exciting and, at the same time, potentially bewildering "beginnings" of their lives. The Alpha Program is meant to serve the needs of the many students who have yet to settle on a major, for whatever reason – perhaps you have a difficult time choosing among many interests; or you want to explore some options before deciding on a program; or maybe you feel pressured to choose a major but don’t feel ready.
Albright wants to emphasize that it’s fine for students to enter college without a clear idea of which academic program they wish to pursue and what their ultimate career will be. Even those who enter with certainties often find themselves in transition between majors more than once as their studies progress. Nationally, about 70% of students end up changing their major. Being undeclared and/or undecided isn’t a cause for panic, for you or your parents! The opportunity for academic exploration is a unique life opportunity, and it is central to the educational experience at a liberal arts college like Albright.
What Can You Expect as an Alpha Student?
The Albright Alpha Program is available to all first-year and sophomore students who have not declared a major. Each Alpha student is assigned a faculty adviser specially chosen to counsel undeclared students and help them learn about the programs of study the College offers, the careers these may lead to, and their own interests and goals. Alpha’s goal is to help students explore the world of knowledge and themselves in order to make better informed choices among academic concentrations.
Gradually Alpha students define their academic interests more clearly and select a major that will provide learning in depth to complement the learning in breadth which comes with a liberal arts program’s general education courses. The Alpha Program facilitates this process.
One tool is regular meetings with your Alpha adviser, who together with the Registrar and others can work with you to select a program which provides broad exposure to many different fields and keeps curricular options as open as possible. Even more than for other students, Alphas should make regular appointments with their adviser, whom they should fully use as a resource. The adviser will assist in choosing courses in a wide variety of academic disciplines. In doing so you will also meet a diverse group of faculty, who present new knowledge and new perspectives, and have the opportunity for many contacts with peers with whom you can share experiences and exchange ideas.
The Experiential Learning and Career Development Center (ELCDC) is a key part of the Alpha “toolbox,” helping students identify their strengths and interests, learn about potential careers, and even undertake internships that help them define their goals. The Center offers career assessment/testing, welcomes one-on-one appointments with students, and sponsors events like those described below. The ELCDC also supports a course designed especially for Alphas: the for-credit SPI 125, Career Decision Making.
Events for Alpha students sponsored by the ELCDC may include things like the following:
- Hang-outs or informal conversations on topics ranging from choosing a major to defining interests, values, abilities and goals (check ELCDC schedule of events for days/times and locations)
- a panel of former students who relate their experiences in choosing a major or career
- alumni networking events for students to engage with alumni to learn more about their college majors, careers, and the world of work
- a virtual or on-site “fair” that brings together faculty from many different academic departments for information about their discipline and the careers they often lead to
- a small panel of faculty might discuss particular academic programs at Albright
- sessions to take an interest-defining survey instrument and discuss the results
- other speakers or activities especially pertinent to the interests and needs of undecided students
The Alpha Program cultivates self-direction and responsibility in its students as well providing assistance and opportunities. Another tool is the “Alpha Advising Syllabus,” which sets some self-guided expectations for you to meet in order to be more intentional about your academic progress and to maximize the resources available to you as an Alpha student, such as adviser meetings and ELCDC events. Another is an advisee “self-profile survey” that can give your advisor useful information about your academic history and habits.
Individual counseling is always available from your adviser, the ELCDC, or others in Academic Affairs such as the Academic Learning Center or Dean. Once you have declared a major, you will be assigned an adviser from that academic department. However, many Alpha students find that their Alpha adviser remains a welcome resource for them throughout their career at Albright.
Listen to our graduates
“When I started at Albright, I was clueless. The Alpha Program really came through for me. With my advisor’s help, I put together a diverse academic program that gave me a broad background and a push in the right direction. I gained a liberal arts foundation that I depend on every day in my business, and in my life.”
Major: Business Management;
President, Marchon Eyewear - On Top Corp.
“The Alpha Program helped me explore Albright’s academic possibilities and let me try a little bit of everything before I picked my major. I ended up taking courses I wouldn’t have tried otherwise. One in particular, an interdisciplinary study in the Bahamas in biology and chemistry, shaped my decision to become a biology major. Alpha is something that is unique to Albright, and it certainly weighed in my decision to come here.”
“I owe a lot to Albright and its Alpha Program. I had a strong interest in political science when I started there, but I also like psychology. The Alpha Program enabled me to thoroughly explore the curriculum to decide which major best suited me. Of course, there’s much more to Alpha. My advisor and I had a lengthy discussion about the law and political science which inspired me to go on to law school. Alpha really takes you where you want to go.”
Alison Carrigan, J.D.
Major: Political Science, Summa Cum Laude
Judicial Clerk, State of NJ
“I didn’t want to pick a major that I might later change, so Alpha was perfect for me. I knew I was interested in art, but I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to be only an art major or to add another major. Through Alpha, I hooked up with a professor in communications who told me his field would work well with my art focus. My advisor was fabulous and always there for me.”
Production Coordinator, Soap Opera Digest, New York
Alpha Events – Fall 2015
Come Chill with the ELCDC (Snow Cones) - September 8 from 2:30-4:30 pm at Geiser House (across the street from Smith Hall and next door to the Gable Health & Counseling Center) This is your chance to speak to fellow students and the staff of the Experiential Learning and Career Development Center while enjoying a tasty treat.
Albright Creative Research Experience (ACRE) Presentations – October 6, 7 and 8 at 4:30 Science Lecture Hall. This is your chance to learn about different majors and related academic projects as ACRE student recipients present results and lessons learned from their Summer 2015 ACRE. * Each afternoon over the three-day presentation schedule will count as one experience event.
The "Major/Career Test" (Interest Inventory) – October 8 @ 4 pm in the Library Media Classroom The "Major/Career Test," a.k.a. Strong Interest Inventory, is used to assist students in discovering interests and the majors and careers that may be compatible with these interests. Students who are undecided or who are considering changing majors often take the assessment to assist in the process. Students will take the assessment at this time and will be required to schedule an individual appointment with a career counselor to go over the results.
How to Choose Your Major – Various Times and Locations on Campus – Like Albright College Experiential Learning and Career Development Center on Facebook for days/times/locations. Explore what goes into making this decision…. interests, skills, values, and more. Learn about what resources can help you make your decision (including career assessments, career counseling, informational interviews, and internet and book resources).
Experiential Learning Expo – September 30 from 4-5:30 in the Campus Center Talk to fellow students about their recent internship, study abroad or ACRE experiences. Learn how an internship, study abroad/off campus and/or undergraduate research/ACRE can help you fine tune your major and/or career direction.
All About ACRE – Fall 2015 TBD (across the street from Smith Hall and next door to the Gable Health & Counseling Center) Ever wonder what this ACRE business is all about? Come find out! Maybe you can work on a project with a faculty mentor and get PAID for it!
Virtual Major Fair – Entire Month of October online at www.albright.edu/elcdc Research major options at Albright through online resources including links to “What Can I Do with a Major In . . .”, the academic department websites, course descriptions, and obtain contact information for faculty within each department for additional information and support.
Study Abroad 101 – Various Times and Locations on Campus – Like Albright College Experiential Learning and Career Development Center on Facebook for days/times/locations. Have you ever thought about traveling abroad to take college classes or complete an internship? Learn about location options, financial aid and how to make your dream into a reality!
SPI 125 - Register in the Fall for this Spring Semester for-credit Career Decision Making course