You’ve Decided to Switch Majors: Separating Fact and Fiction

First things’s first: You’re not alone.

The majority of people I know currently in college or that I went to school with, changed their majors at one point or another.

Some of them simply picked a major when signing up for classes, thinking it sounded cool or that it would lead them to the greatest job ever.

But, as the semester’s go on, and you begin to see things a little more clearly and find out more about yourself, you may find yourself wishing you’d picked a different path. It can be a scary prospect, but one that can be completed safely with a little know-how.

You’re Part of the Majority

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, roughly 80% of students end up changing majors at some point in their college career. That is by far the vast majority of students pursuing further education. So as you decide whether you should change your major or think, well, everyone else seems to already have a game-plan for college, keep in mind they most likely don’t have the most concrete plans.

In fact, you’re part of the greater number of students who may have doubts and are contemplating exactly what you are. Just remember, just because you picked a major at orientation, does not mean it’s set in stone.

Learn About Yourself

You’re going to grow and change a lot throughout your years in college…and no I don’t mean taller. These days advisors are telling students to wait to declare a major until they’ve spent at least a semester at the university. This is great advice. The first year or so in college are spent on electives and a few major-related courses. Find out what piques your interest, broaden your educational horizons a bit.

It may be that you really want an education degree but find yourself drawn to business or biology because it better suits your personality and interests. Conversely, if you really want to get a liberal arts degree, perhaps in art, but decide that was maybe just a childhood ambition that in impractical or unrealistic, you have some wiggle room to make the necessary changes.

Advisors Are Your Friends!

College advisors and counselors are at your disposal. They’re a tremendously helpful free resource. It is in fact their job is to help you out. So use them! Make an appointment if you’re unsure about your next move, need advice on how and what the next steps are, need financial guidance, etc. They can give you a good picture of what you can expect to encounter if you switch majors, the types of classes you’ll need, and the requirements for the degree.

They can also provide an assessment test or standardized tool such as The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Campbell Interest and Skill Survey to give you a good picture on your strengths and skill sets and provide options in which to apply those strengths. College advisor contact information can be found on most universities websites, so don’t be afraid to get in touch with them.

Roll With the Punches

For both incoming students and their parents, it’s important to remain positive and encouraging. Realizing that almost all students might suffer a change of heart at one point or another is a good step to keeping communication lanes open when it comes time to tell parents that the student wants to change majors.

According to some first-hand accounts as reported by US News and World Report, both being prepared and encouraging your student to seek out advice and other options on campus lets them know you are aware of their situation.

Changing majors can be a scary prospect and an even more daunting task.  But with a little, planning, help, advice, and encouragement, you can find yourself on the right educational path for you before you know it.

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Jared Gerling

Jared Gerling

Jared Gerling earned his BA from Michigan State University. Jared has been writing since he was eleven when all his characters had swords and magic spells and bad attitudes. When not writing or studying, he can be found watching Spartan football and basketball games, reading, or working out. Jared currently lives in Chicago pursuing his MA in Writing in Publishing from DePaul University.
Jared Gerling

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