How Do You Know if It's Time to Change Majors?
Roughly half of college students change their major at least once before graduation, and many do so two or three times. Declaring a new major can come with a downside, so it's important to give it thoughtful consideration before proceeding. Learn 10 questions to consider while weighing a change in major.
By Douglas Fehlen
1. Are you enjoying coursework in your major?
Even if you were unequivocal when you declared a major, your feelings might have changed. Trying to push yourself through another year or two of classes you don't enjoy isn't a recipe for success. You're not likely to be motivated to excel. If you no longer like your courses, it may be time for a change.
2. Does your major support your current academic goals?
Maybe the problem isn't that you don't like your major, but that you want to study another subject in greater depth. If your academic goals have evolved, now might be the right time to make a change. If you already have a lot of credits in your current discipline, you might double major or earn a minor in it.
3. Does your major support your current career goals?
A lot of students enter college without a clear idea of what they want to do after school. This period of uncertainty can persist, even up until the time that a major must be declared. If you made your choice of major before you were clear on professional goals, you might need to now pursue a different degree program.
4. Is coursework too difficult?
Medicine, law and engineering are only a few disciplines that feature very challenging classes. If you're getting poor grades in major courses - or prereqs for major classes - it may be time to reconsider your area of study. Having difficulty in lower-level courses is a warning that you might continue to struggle.
5. Is now the right time?
Many colleges require that students declare a major by the end of the second year of school. If you've declared a major earlier and are considering a change as a freshman or sophomore, you're in a good position to make the transition. Third- or fourth-year students may be less fortunate. (See the next question.)
6. Will a change in major mean more time in school?
Juniors and seniors are more likely than underclassmen to experience negative fallout from a change in major. Individuals in the third or fourth year of school are likely to have taken more classes in a major and thus have more invested in it. Completing credits for a different degree might push back your graduation date.
7. Is changing your major worth any financial impact?
Expenses for additional college credits, room, board and other needs can add up quickly if you need to spend more time in school. There are other factors to think about, too. Perhaps you receive scholarships or grants tied to study in a specific discipline. Know how much changing your major will cost before proceeding.
8. Would a change in major mean attending a new institution?
You may have chosen the college you're attending now based on a desire to pursue one specific degree program. If you decide to move on to pursue a different major, you may find your current school doesn't offer an adequate program. Getting the education you want might require transferring.
9. Do you feel confident in your professional prospects?
Okay, so you're leaning toward changing your major. Just as it was important when you originally declared a major, considering your new career prospects is important. Research professions your new major can open up to you, including job trends. Employability shouldn't be the only factor in selecting a major, but it should be one.
10. Do you feel prepared to make a change?
Think carefully about what changing your major will mean, including any negative aspects. If you're wavering, get more information from others who have changed academic disciplines. Consult an academic advisor to ensure you're familiar with steps you would need to take to make the process go smoothly.
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