When you enroll in a bachelor’s degree program, one of the first things you think about it which major you will choose — even if you haven’t actually declared one yet. Particularly if you’re in a liberal arts college, it’s always great advice to worry about your pre-requisite classes first and to see if any of them spark an interest in a particular field of study or degree. Even if you’re open to other options, you probably have a major in mind, and it’s the thing you’ve been focused on as you pursue your academic goals. What should you do, though, when you’re not sure it’s still the right path for you? What do you do if you’re one of the 80% of college students who change their major?
When you’re thinking about switching academic gears it’s a good idea to assess where you’re at. It’s a much easier proposition to switch majors when you’re a sophomore than it is when you’re a senior. So, assess how many credits you’ve earned, and what those credits have been. If you took a lot of classes specifically for your major, you may need to start doing some math. Will you end up spending more time or money in school if you switch majors?
While the answer to that question probably won’t be enough to stop you from changing to a major you’re more passionate about, it’s a good idea to carefully weigh all the pros and cons of a major switch. That’s why it’s a good idea to involve your academic advisor as soon as you realize you’re serious about changing majors. They’ll be able to look over your past coursework and evaluate how it might transfer to something new, particularly if you will be changing to an entirely different academic discipline.
Switching to a major that keeps you in the same academic area you’re currently in tends to be a little easier. Thinking of making a switch from a major in creative writing to one in English literature? That change is not going to be as dramatic as going from chemical engineering to English literature. So it’s important to keep in mind that the drama of changing your major can vary by degrees.
Often students consider a new major because they don’t enjoy their coursework, or they don’t have a particular aptitude for it. If that’s the case, you may need to consider a rather dramatic change. If, for instance, you’re struggling with the mathematics requirements for your statistics degree, you may want to consider switching to a less math-heavy major.
The most important thing to think about when you start to suspect that you should change majors is that, no matter how difficult it may seem now, it will be much easier to change majors while you’re still in school than to complete a degree you don’t want and then realize a few years later you need to go back to school for something else. If 80% of college students switch majors, don’t feel like you can’t do it too!