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Carson-Newman Life Directions Center has record year

Freshman Erica Hesson (left), an applied psychology major, visits with C-N’s Tammy Renalds at the University’s Life Directions Center.

Freshman Erica Hesson (left), an applied psychology major, visits with C-N’s Tammy Renalds at the University’s Life Directions Center.

Carson-Newman University’s Life Directions Center has made record strides this semester to lower the number of deciding students.

“A ‘deciding student’ is a student who has not yet declared a major,” explains Coordinator for Deciding Students and Advising, Tammy Renalds. “We call them ‘deciding’ because these students are in the process of selecting their major.”

The Life Directions Center begins each academic year with some 100 or more students who fall into this deciding student category.

This year the number has plummeted from over 100 to now 30 deciding students, the lowest number for the Life Directions Center since its creation in 2008. Renalds says that it is common for 20 – 50 percent of an institution’s incoming class to be undecided on their major.

She says the recent success can be traced to a Carson-Newman hallmark: personal interaction. This year students are required to attend one-on-one meetings with staff advisors in the Life Directions Center. Renalds said, “For each person we meet with, we find out where they are in their process and what needs they might have.”

Colleague Mark Workman, who serves as associate director for the Center, says research shows that when a student declares a major they are more likely to fulfill a graduation program. “We want to keep people here at Carson-Newman to meet their goals,” explained Workman, “and keep them focused on what it is they came here to do.”

The new low numbers prompted the LDC team to implement a new way to celebrate with students as they declare a major. “We have been so excited for so many students to be declaring their majors that we installed a bell in our office for students to ring in celebration when they come to declare,” said Renalds. “We are glad to have started this new tradition and look forward to more students becoming ‘bell ringers.’”

With the next incoming class arriving in the fall, the Life Directions Center will be busy again with working on dropping numbers even lower.

“Our goal every day is to meet the student where they are,” added Workman, “and to make them feel empowered and happy about what is going on.”

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