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Meta-Majors: An Essential First Step on the Path to College Completion

Alexandra Waugh

A growing body of evidence reveals that a central factor in low completion rates for community college students is the “cafeteria” style approach to college, which provides entering students with a dizzying array of choices and little guidance on navigating those choices. A poor decision on which classes to take can cost community college students a significant amount of time and potentially mean the difference between earning a credential or degree and stopping or dropping out. Meta-majors are a programmatic response to these findings. Designed with the end (college completion) in mind, and using students' interests as a starting point, meta-majors provide structure and narrow choices to support student success. This paper seeks to scale the meta-majors conversation in the field by looking at two in-depth examples from colleges in Ohio and Florida, offering a set of design principles, and posing the key questions to help guide colleges’ thinking.

Read the Key Meta-Majors Questions.