How To Successfully Switch Your Major in Higher Ed

impactio blog How To Successfully Switch Your Major in Higher Ed

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference”

Robert Frost wrote those words over 100 years ago, but they are still recited today. The poem explores the idea of making a choice and sticking with it, regardless of what may come.

The erstwhile traveler chooses the road less taken, and “that has made all the difference.” But what if you start down one path and decide it’s not for you? Many college students feel locked into a major they chose years before even entering college.

Successfully switching your major isn’t as difficult or uncommon as you might think.

The Importance of Choosing the Right Major

High school guidance counselors emphasize the importance of choosing the right college. They also encourage students to pick a major before stepping on campus. Having an undeclared major is often viewed negatively as if the wishy-washy student couldn’t make up their mind.

However, those with undeclared majors actually have a leg up on their classmates. Why? They are more willing to take classes that fall outside their field of study, possibly stumbling onto a career choice they’d never considered.

Some people have their entire lives mapped out, including their dream college, major, and career. But what if you get to college and discover your dreams aren’t quite as fulfilling as you thought? Switching your major is almost always an option. Why should you consider it?

Undecided? You’re Not Alone

Generally, your college major will dictate the courses you take. The first few college years are often filled with pre-requisite and general education classes. It’s only in the last two years that undergrads begin to take specialized classes required for graduation in the major of their choice.

But after two years of classes, not everyone has settled on a major. In fact, studies show that up to 50% of college students haven’t decided on a major. An even larger percentage ends up switching their majors at least once during their college career.

College admission factsheets cite that almost 80% of all college students change their major at some point.

With such a common occurrence, changing your major should be easy, right? That depends.

The Vital Question: Should You Change Your Major?

If you are fully immersed in your college career and happy with your major, there’s no reason to change paths. But what if you’re not quite sure if the path you thought you’d take is still the right one for you?

Changing your major is ultimately a personal decision only you can make.

Steps to Take for a Successful Degree Switch

Changing your major isn’t an overnight decision or an instant switch. There are four steps a student must take to change majors.

1. Choosing your new major

So, you are not happy with the major you chose when you first accepted your college admission. Now what? After taking many classes on various topics, one might strike a chord with you. The first step in changing your major is deciding on a new one.

Perhaps you want to talk it over with your friends and family, but remember that it’s your decision, not theirs. 

2. Consulting your academic advisor

Your academic advisor will be your strongest asset when changing majors. They will know the ins and outs of the requirements for both your old major and your new one. Furthermore, they will guide you through every step of the process.

3. Requirements of new major

Do you have the credits necessary to graduate after switching majors? The classes you’ve taken may or may not transfer to your new field of study. In some cases, students who change majors may need to attend summer classes or extra semesters to get the necessary credits to graduate.

Switching majors can prolong the time and expense of college if extra classes (and tuition) are required. In some cases, adding a minor to your existing major may be better than switching majors entirely.

4. Submitting the paperwork

Once you have all your ducks in a row, the last step is to submit the paperwork. The department chair and academic advisor will likely need to sign off on your change of major.

Remember when enrolling in college that your major isn’t set in stone. If you switch majors, you’ll be in good company with more than half your peers.

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