Whether you’re struggling to declare a major or you decided on your major before you started middle school, it’s not uncommon to change your mind in college. Almost a third of college students change their major at least once during college careers. Maybe you started college as a biology major and discovered that art or history are more your thing! Plenty of students change their major to something completely unexpected in college, and understand the struggle of making the switch. We asked five students and graduates how they made the decision to change their major, and this is what they had to say.
“[I changed my major from] pre-med to education and social policy/psychology. Since I couldn’t get into the chemistry class I needed, I took Intro to Psychology instead and LOVED it. I felt like that was exactly where I was meant to be at that time and in the future.
I think my parents were initially disappointed, especially my mom who see doctors as the best of the best in the world, and would have loved to say that her daughter was a doctor. It was a lot of paperwork to do the transfers, and their core class requirements were different, but this was one of the best decisions I made in college!”
- Heidi McBain, Northwestern University graduate
“I started out at Stony Brook University in New York as a computer science major. I was in the program for two semesters. After taking one semester of the computer science requirements and being put on academic probation from how poorly I did, I switched my major to English, which is what I wanted to major in in the first place. No one really disagreed with me changing my major; I had a lot of support from family and friends, although I sometimes questioned myself as to the job outlook when I graduated.
The most exciting part about changing my major was me being able to do something I love. I fell in love with literature my first semester of college in a freshman composition course. The professor’s love for literature was contagious, and it is because of him that I wanted to initially major in English.”
“I started out thinking I would be an English major, but ultimately ended up with a Bachelor's of Science in Entrepreneurship. Everyone in my life knew I didn't want to start a business, so some people couldn't understand why I would choose to study entrepreneurship. I had to show them that entrepreneurial concepts are applicable in every profession, even writing and editing, and that it was a discipline worth studying in a formal setting. Although I went to a big state university, the entrepreneurship major was very small, and everyone else was determined to make their own startup. I had, and still have, no desire to start my own business, so I worried it wouldn't be a good career choice to shift my degree plan. Ultimately, it was a good choice, and I loved my education. In retrospect, majoring in entrepreneurship seems like an obvious choice for me.”
- Alex Haslam, Writer at HowtoWatch.com
“I began as an elementary education major and changed to communications - public relations my junior year of college. I wanted to be a teacher since I was in kindergarten and because I thought I knew what I wanted back then, no one ever really encouraged me to explore anything else. I began working in retail management my freshmen year of college and discovered I loved communicating, selling and being with the public. I had a customer I was helping one day tell me I should look into jobs in communications and public relations. I actually didn't even know what public relations was and I did a ton of research that night and decided it was time to make the change two days before fall semester classes started my junior year.
I wanted a career where I wouldn't be stuck in one place all of the time and I wanted to talk to new people every day. Currently I am working at a public relations agency, but the possibilities are endless. I like being able to have options and the ability to work for brands that align with my passions.”
- Courtny Svendsen, Account Coordinator at Fishman Public Relations
“I went to two different schools and changed my major three times. I started out going to UMass Lowell for electrical engineering. Then I transferred to Salem State University and went in as undeclared. After about a semester I changed to mathematics, and after a year and half or so I changed to communications with a focus in public relations. I never really had a huge interest in EE [electrical engineering], but I was pretty good in science and math topics, plus my brother did electro-mechanical engineering at a different school, and my parents wanted me to go for it, so I did. I hated the classes, the work, the teachers, basically everything. I had no motivation, and when I finally told my parents I didn’t want to do it and made the decision to switch majors, it felt like a massive weight was lifted off of my shoulders.
After realizing there was no real career in mathematics unless you absolutely love it and commit your entire life to it, I went to career services and discovered communications. I switched again and fell in love. I was good at communications and I had several potential career options after I graduated. After such a long search, I had finally found something I liked. It was a very hopeful moment in my life and I could look ahead to the future with the comfort of knowing I had a legitimate career in front of me.”