What Is Exploratory Track in Computing at Umass Amherst?

Updated on January 16, 2017
N.A. asks from Westborough, MA
6 answers

Hello everyone, I am back and this is the good news here with some questions too.

My daughter got acceptance from Umass Amherst undergraduate admissions few days back. I am finally feeling relieved she will now at least consider staying in state. She said only she gets Amherst, she will think of doing that.
I want her to stay close to home.

In the common app it was required to enter two options for major. After consulting her school counselor, she entered computer science as first option and "undecided " as 2nd option. That's because she is not so sure what other major she would select if not for computer science.
As of now she is so fixed on taking comp.sc as her major.

In the acceptance letter instead of major as computer science she was given "Exploratory track in computing and informatics".

Though we did do some google searches but I thought it would be better to check with all of you if any of your kids are in this and how hard the course is, that will give more info and first hand experience.

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answers from Springfield on

Many students do not declare a major until their sophomore year, and even then some still chance their mind.

Your daughter is currently a senior in high school, right? So that means she will be beginning her freshman year in the fall? Even if she's beginning this semester, right now is the time to take some of her general requirements and possible one class in her major. She should sign up for an English class, a math class, speech if it's required (it is in Illinois), maybe a science class or psychology or sociology, possibly a foreign language.

Most freshmen see an undergraduate advisor to plan their classes. At some point during their freshman or sophomore year they are assigned an advisor in their major.

Don't worry about it now. When she meets with her advisor to plan her schedule, she can ask those questions. She could even request a meeting sooner, if that would help her feel better. It should be very easy to straighten this out.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Your best source of information is looking at the university's catalog and asking an admissions person at the school. No one outside of a particular school can tell you what the specific terminology means or how their program is structured. My best guess is that the college does not assign entering students to a major, instead putting them in an 'exploratory track' for trying out a subject before being accepted into a major. It's also quite possible that the university calls its computer-related major 'computing and informatics' rather than computer science. But only the school can explain the terms to you. Congrats on her acceptance!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I agree that you must step back and let your daughter do this legwork. She is going to be on her own in 6 months and you need to let her develop the skills to talk to professors, admissions/financial aid staff, and more!

The fact is, tons of students don't declare a major until the end of sophomore year. That's why she had the option of "undecided" on the form. They do like to get a general idea of students' plans, but these are not written in stone. My guess is, the "computer science" and 'exploratory track in computer and informatics" have a lot of similar (or identical) courses in the first year anyway. My son wanted to get into civil engineering, but so did a ton of other students. The college assigned him to environmental engineering because all the courses are similar. He also took an exploratory engineering class which was made up of 3-week segments from various disciplines (civil, mechanical, environmental, and so on) and this was a fantastic way to learn about the many offerings at the college. After the end of the first semester and even the second semester, lots of kids transfer out to other majors, and things open up. Exploratory courses are brilliant ways to start.

In any case, none of us will know about that particular program, as Anne said. (She's a college professor and even she wouldn't know what the Umass program entailed - that's specific to each school!) Follow her advice. Mamapedia is a national forum and the likelihood of finding anyone here who has been involved in computing and informatics in the last year or two at Umass is slim to none.

You say that you want your daughter to stay close to home - please examine what it is that makes you so nervous or concerned about her branching out, growing up, and making her own decisions in these areas. The more you cling to her, the more she may pull away, or conversely, the more she will be ill-equipped to function on a daily basis without you there! Please, give her the vital gift of independence and self-sufficiency, or she will not be able to manage in a university setting where she must navigate for herself every day.

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answers from Toledo on

This link takes you to the universities page explaining the Exploritory Track (what it is, who it's for, why)


A little further down on the page is a link to the "EXPLORATORY TRACK IN COMPUTING AND INFORMATICS," but here it is if you want to go straight there.


There's a phone number at the bottom of the page that your daughter can call if she still has questions.

I do encourage you to let your daughter view the webpages and make any phone calls. University employees work with students, not parents. It would be good for her.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

N. - I hope that everything worked out with the scholarships. Has your daughter considered calling the school to ask the meaning of that major? Why did they assign her to a major? Isn't it her choice?

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i suggest you take a step back and let her navigate some of this on her own. it was concerning that you didn't think she would actually understand a simple discussion about finances, and now you are researching to find out how hard her potential course work may be.
hopefully pretty hard, right?
my older kid got his associates in business, and then blew out of it just a few credits shy of his bachelors by a hard statistics class. he chose to switch his major, and voila! he's circling right back to an advanced stats class at another college where he's doing grad school.
you need to start letting your daughter make her own choices, and her own mistakes.

3 moms found this helpful
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