As many as 70 percent of college students change their major at least once before they graduate (and many change several times) – so while there’s definitely no shame in changing your mind, here are some things to consider before you dive headfirst into a totally new academic path:
1. Why am I leaving my current major?
There are a lot of good reasons to change majors. Maybe you’ve lost your passion for art history, or biology just isn’t what you thought it would be. If the thought of one (or two, or even three) more years of studying for your current degree makes you shudder, it’s definitely time for a change. But if you want to head out because you don’t get along with a certain professor, or because your classmates aren’t the most supportive people in the world, a change in course of study might not be the solution. You might be better off picking classes that are at a different time (with a different professor) or even transferring to another school, especially if you know that you still have a passion for what you’re doing. Before you make any rash decisions, be sure you really know why you’re leaving so you don’t jump into something new that may pose the exact same problems for you (after all, there are tough professors in every major – trust me).
2. Will I still be able to graduate on time?
While not an immediate deal-breaker, this is definitely something to talk about with your advisor or the school’s registrar about before you officially change your course of study. If you’re already a junior, and you’ll have to tack on three more years of undergrad, it may not be worth it. Instead, you may be able to get a Master’s degree in the new field, or even add a minor, without delaying your graduation. Discuss these possibilities with an advisor or trusted professor, and consider all of your options before making the decision!
3. Will I be happier in my new major?
If your current major is doing nothing but stressing you out, then chances are that you’ll be much happier when you switch. Contrastingly, however, if you’re already content with what you’re studying, a switch can mean added stress and unhappiness, particularly if you’re going from a fairly easy-going major to a more rigorous one. Go with what will make you the happiest – after all, college is supposed to be fun, not feel like a chore.
4. What do I hope to gain from college?
There are dozens of reasons why people go to college, and academics isn’t always the priority. If all you want is a degree to make your mom happy, changing your major might not have much affect on your overall college experience. Similarly, if you only decided to enroll because you want to play a sport, and you see yourself getting drafted to the pros, your major probably doesn’t have much bearing on your life, either. If you enrolled in school to get a real education in a field you’re passionate about, though, then finding the right field for you will totally be worth it. Just make sure your new course of study lines up with your personal goals, and you’ll be good to go.
5. What do I see myself doing for the rest of my life?
While you might not remain in the same career field forever, it’s plausible to think that you’ll be stuck in the field you decide to major in for at least a little while after graduation. So if you simply can’t picture yourself doing anything related to your current major, it’s definitely time to consider switching it up.
When deciding whether or not to switch majors, it’s extremely important to consider the effects of such a change on your college career and beyond. Consult with advisors, counselors, and other school officials, and be mindful of what you really want, because, a lot of times, it’s not as easy to switch back. Above all, don’t be don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith – it might be the best decision you ever made.