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Exploratory Program

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Exploratory Program Mission Statement

The Exploratory Program exists to provide a seamless transition for all undeclared students at Western Colorado University from college entry to the time of declaring a major. Through investigation of individual abilities, interests, and values, students will clarify their own educational, career, and life goals.

Why be undeclared?

It’s far better to take the time and shop smart than to major hop, and the opportunity to explore many and varied topics separates a school like Western from a technical school. The Exploratory Program will make sure you stay on track to graduate and that you set off with the best combination of courses. Enjoy the time exploring your interests, and look forward to landing in a field of study that’s exciting and motivating.

How to stay on track

  1. Meet with your Exploratory Program Advisor.
  2. Enroll in 15 credits/semester, and complete 30 credits/year.
  3. Choose a Meta Major with your advisor. This isn’t an official declaration but rather a pathway that provides direction toward a variety of major options.
  4. Finish essential skills courses in English and math.
  5. Take nine credits of major exploratory classes per year in your Meta Major.
  6. Plan to declare a major after completing your General Education Courses or after you complete 30 credits.

Steps to Appreciative Advising

Name It!


Make a positive first impression with the student, build rapport, and create a safe and welcoming space.


Ask positive, open-ended questions that help advisers learn about students’ strengths, skills, and abilities.

  • What kinds of activities have you been naturally drawn to?
  • Tell me about one of your successes in high school.
  • What kinds of things come easily to you?
  • What fascinates you?
  • What does a good day look like?
  • What did your teachers compliment you on most?
  • Why did you choose this major?
  • Why did you choose Western?
  • What do you do with your free time?
  • What are some specific things you have done in your life to get to college?
  • What do your friends say they like best about you?

Claim it!


Inquire about students’ hopes and dreams for their futures.


Co-create a plan for making their dreams a reality.

  • How do you define success?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • Talk to three people who you know well and ask them how they see your strengths play out in your life.
  • What is a strength of yours that you are proud of?
  • What strengths do you think are your biggest assets?
  • What are your academic goals for the semester? Extracurricular goals? Personal goals?

Aim It!


The student delivers on the plan created during the Design phase and the adviser is available to encourage and support students.

Don’t Settle

Advisers and students alike need to set their own internal bars of expectations high.

  • What is the biggest challenge you face right now? In 90 days? In six months? How can you use your strengths to address them?
  • What strength do you want to be known for?
  • What do you do if you find yourself getting off track this semester? What issues do you foresee next semester? What strength will help you mitigate the issue?
  • What are some options that can help you achieve your goals?
  • What if your plan A doesn’t work?
  • What do you need to learn in order to be successful in meeting your goals?
  • Based on your strengths, what approach would work best to find what career would be a good fit?

Take the Next Step

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Exploratory Program


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