Formerly known as the Discovery Program, Texas Tech eXplore Advising takes a different approach to choosing one’s major.
Housed in Drane Hall Room 347, eXplore could be helpful for students who are undeclared, dissatisfied with their current major or entering a competitive area such as engineering, according to the University Advising website.
Connie Watson, assistant director of University Advising, said eXplore differs from other advising programs in the framework of how they guide students.
“We don’t course advise, we don’t tell them exactly what courses to take; we show them the resources that we have here on campus for them to make good decisions,” she said. “We also use the catalog along with degree audit, and we have them go do the assessments at the Career Center.”
Students are encouraged to visit the advising departments of areas of interest and to take the Strong Interest Inventory Assessment from the Career Center, Watson said, to help them understand their values, interests and strengths.
Deciding students can use eXplore as a way of maximizing their time and money spent at Tech, Watson said, while still taking classes to move forward with their degrees. She said walk-ins are accepted daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. until the end of the semester for students who have questions.
“We want to build on that curiosity of the things that are available to them here, while at the same time making sure that the coursework they’re taking will apply to a multitude, or more than one major,” Watson said.
Two Senate bills guide Tech’s eXplore program, Watson said, although a new bill states students should be in their majors after two semesters, or 30 hours. Issues with this guideline may arise when students enter Tech with hours already logged, such as transfer students or those who enter with dual credit. A third transfer semester is often helpful in such cases.
“A student comes in with maybe 24 hours, so then we have one semester to work on that, to get them to where they can make a good decision and moving forward,” she said. “So, it’s learning to meet a student where they are; it’s very individualized.”
Senior Academic Adviser Abed Monawar said eXplore serves students who do not know what they want to do, and students who know what they want to major in, but who need to complete more steps to get there.
“These guys are admitted to Texas Tech as our students, and they stay with us for about three semesters until they figure out their best fit major; that was the undecided [students]. The undeclared, those are students who know what they want to do, but they need to work on their GPA or prerequisites to get there,” Monawar said.
Most of the students who fall into the latter category do so because they need to pass calculus with a 3.0 GPA or higher to move on, Monawar said.
eXplore students may fall into three additional categories, Monawar said. There are those who want to add an extra minor or major, those who have changed their minds and want to switch majors and college dismissals, or students whose GPAs or foundational class grades were unsatisfactory for the college in which they were enrolled.
“eXplore works not only for undecided, undeclared, but for students who want to know what other options they have at Texas Tech,” he said.
The experience teaches students about more than choosing a major, Monawar said, as students learn practical life skills such as how to be resourceful and make informative decisions.
“Part of the education that we provide through our advising is how to approach important decisions in your life, especially in academia,” he said. “What do you need to know, who are the people who can help you go there, do you know what to ask them, do you know what kind of information they can provide for you?”
Perri Jenkins, a junior creative media industries transfer student from Houston, said she would have taken advantage of eXplore if it had been offered at Lone Star College when she first declared her major. She said eXplore is a useful tool for students who are having trouble settling on one path.
“A lot of times, people come in when they’re maybe freshmen or sophomores,” she said. “They come and do their basics and they realize, ‘Oh, I actually don’t know what I wan to do,’ so they don’t know what they value and sometimes they realize that the path they’re going down doesn’t exactly line up with what they want for their future.”