For many students, sifting through the more than 300 majors, minors and degree concentrations offered by Montclair State University to determine a course of study can be a daunting prospect. The newly launched Academic Program Finder makes it easier for students to access – and compare – the details of University programs in everything from Accounting to Visual Arts. By quickly showing the depth of individual academic programs and relevant cross-disciplinary options, the dynamic Academic Program Finder helps students align their interests with possible courses of study.
"It's a great jumping off point for prospective students doing college selection research, particularly for students who aren't necessarily sure how to connect their interests with a major," says Jeffrey Indiveri-Gant, the University's director of Undergraduate Admissions.
"We wanted to eliminate the mystical aspect of learning about academic programs," explains Montclair State Director of Web Services Katherine Tasheff, who led the team that devised and implemented the innovative new tool. "We want prospective students, their parents, guidance counselors, and accepted students to be able to discover our programs and degrees. Now there is an easy way to navigate, explore and get as much information as possible about all that we offer before making important academic decisions."
Since the Academic Program Finder launched on May 31, Tasheff reports that feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. "The Academics landing page, which houses the program finder, has seen an increase in page views and unique visitors of more than 500 percent over last year," she says. "This is primarily attributable to the new program finder."
The Academic Program Finder removes some of the guesswork from the process. After typing in a major or career interest, such as journalism, links to University programs in Journalism, Creative Writing and Communication Studies instantly appear.
If a student is interested in a broad area such as art, but isn't sure what the best course of study might be, the Academic Program Finder provides links to a broad range of interrelated undergraduate and graduate major, minor and concentration options – from Visual Arts and Filmmaking to Fashion Studies and Art and Design Studio. For those students ready to take an even deeper dive, it also gives links to related programs in everything from Animation and Illustration to Jewish American Studies that students may not have considered before.
"For accepted students, the tool opens up a deeper discovery not only of majors, but also of minors and concentrations that they may not have considered during the application process," says Indiveri-Gant. "It helps them think about how they might round out their experience as students at Montclair State."
Tasheff's five-person Web Services team worked intensively over a six-month period to develop, implement and launch the Academic Program Finder. "The challenge was to standardize everything while letting the personalities of individual programs shine through. We wanted students to readily see the differences between our programs," she says.
The team worked closely with schools, colleges and academic departments across the University, in what Tasheff describes as a "soup to nuts" process. "We also worked with career advisors to add the layer of career information, which we are continuing to enhance, to make the feature even more robust and useful," she says.