Changing a College Major

Deciding on a college major begins in high school with the school counselor, but sometimes those early decisions don’t end up being the final decision regarding majors in college.  There can be many factors in the decision making process from classes taken to internships to realizing that maybe the market just doesn’t have many jobs for that major. Whatever the factors, there are some specific times when students should look at changing majors

Required classes are too difficult

If the student takes a few classes in the major of choice and has difficulty maintaining a satisfactory grade point average at the same time, that is usually a time that a frank and serious look at the major is in order between the advisor and the student.  Decisions need to be made whether or not the student is going to be able to receive high enough grades to be admitted to the major.

Freshman year

A good time to change majors is during the freshman year of college.  At that point, the classes are usually general requirements and the few taken for the major can be counted toward elective requirements.  The further it is past the freshman year of college, the greater the likelihood for taking more than four years to make it through college.

At the end of semester

A good rule is to make changes to a major of study at the end of the semester.  Advisors don’t want students to impulsively change their majors around during the semester because it tends to reflect one bad experience or a bad test score rather than a good reason for the decision.  When registering for classes and visiting with the advisor is a good time to make the official change to the major.

After a work experience

Whether a student is a freshman or a junior, if a work experience or internship leaves the student with the definite opinion that it is not the best job choice, even if it sets the college education back a semester or two, it may be worth changing the major. It is better to change the major and go on to do something else if it truly is an undesired career.

Turn the major to a minor

Another good time to change majors is if one realizes that the major that was chosen would make a better minor or possibly a double major.  Often students discover part way into the education that while a specific major may be desired, another major is actually the one that employers want to see on the resume.  It doesn’t mean the other major is abandoned, but often it can be turned into a minor course of study instead.

Hating the coursework

It is important to love the career that is chosen. No matter how much money a certain career path may earn, if the person hates the job, it might not be worth the money.  If all the indications are through classes and experience that it will be career that is hated, it is time to abandon that path.  Sometimes majors are chosen for the wrong reasons such as parental influence, influence of friends, and even a teacher in high school who a student admired.  The decision should be the right one for the student, not the other people in the student’s life.

Changing majors may be a stressful situation, but when it is the right decision, the student feels relief when it is done.  Even if a major is changed and it still isn’t the right fit, it is perfectly acceptable to change it again. Remember it is the student’s education, career and life and whatever choice is made is part of the learning experience.