Questions to Ask if You’re Changing Majors

changing majors

The spring semester will be coming to a close sooner than we know it. As finals loom and end of term projects are assigned, many students will begin to wonder if they’re pursuing the wrong dream. If you’re finding your core classes totally useless or experiencing utter success in other subjects, you might be considering whether changing majors is worthwhile. You’re not alone! Upwards of 75% of undergraduates change their major at least once between the time of enrollment and graduation. Before you do anything official, here are some questions to consider before changing majors next fall.

Will I graduate on time?

This definitely varies between students. If you’re changing majors going into your senior year, then you’ll likely have to delay graduation.  If you’re a first or second year student, then chances are you’ll be fine. Should changing your major result in more years of undergraduate schooling, consider taking on a preferred subject as a minor. This compromise allows you to enroll in courses that interest you without the burden of completing as many credits. However, do not make any changes without scheduling an appointment with your advisor. They are your most important tool in deciding if changing majors is the best move.

Does my major have to reflect what I want to do in life?

No, not necessarily! Although some undergraduate professional programs are designed to prepare you for a certain career, i.e. engineering programs, most majors aren’t great predictors of what you’re going to do in life. In fact, studies show that only about 27% of college graduates are in a career directly related to their major. Therefore, your major doesn’t lock you into a certain career path. Regardless, earning a college degree is an investment in your future, so invest wisely.  

But what if I want a career in something totally different? Will employers consider me?

Again, so many graduates have jobs in fields unrelated to their majors. Acquiring experience in the field you want to work in, along with taking related classes, will give you a foot in the door. For example, if you’re an English literature major but aspire to be a business analyst, take classes related to analytics or even consider minoring in it. Additionally, internships are a great way to gain experience in your desired field. By interning, you’ll also interact with professionals who can later serve as excellent contacts for networking. Having experience in your desired career field and a professional network to leverage will create more opportunities than majoring in particular subject.  

Is it okay to change majors because my current one is too hard?

Yes! It’s not a shameful thing to change your major if you’re struggling in your current one. Our success is dependent on so many factors including our passions and general personalities. Just because we’re struggling with something doesn’t make us incompetent or a failure. Additionally, changing majors does not mean you’re giving up. It actually means quite the opposite. It means you’re smart enough to identify areas you excel and struggle in. You’re also brave enough to make a choice that will ultimately make you happier and more successful. Though it can be scary, change often brings opportunity.

What if my parents get mad?

We all have to understand that our parents simply want what they believe is best for us. They want to see us succeed, avoiding the struggles they faced and realizing opportunities they never had. However, parents don’t always know what’s best for us. When talking to your parents about your decision to change majors, tell them all of the reasons why you’re making the decision. Explain why these reasons will be ultimately beneficial. Be honest and be understanding, even if they’re angry. Change is scary for everyone. In the end, it’s your life and your happiness. You will be the one living it each day.

When deciding whether or not to change majors, consider some of the questions listed above and then decide the right course of action. First and foremost, before making any major (pun intended) decisions, consult your advisor and other people who are connected with that field of study. Email professors and other students to make sure you have a good understanding of what to expect. But don’t let it stress you out too much! You can always change it again. Good luck!

Julia Aldrich

About Julia Aldrich

Hi, I'm Julia Aldrich and I'm a student at the University of Pittsburgh majoring in psychology and creative writing. I enjoy travelling, sleeping, going to festivals, and of course writing- but I'm rather impartial to poetry. I'm also a veg so I'm obligated to let you know.

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