Changing majors has become quite common among college students, but it’s a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s because it carries several consequences. Students who swap majors in their junior or senior years risk losing their units and thus postponing their graduation date. The extra semesters you gain mean that you pay more money. So it is a decision students should try to avoid unless necessary.
It takes courage to reroute your academic path by switching majors. Students who go through with it immediately realize that things change and that the future is full of uncertainty. Individuals have different reasons for switching majors, and we have identified the most common ones.
Finding something you’re good at
You’re encouraged to study a course in a field you love or what you’re good at. However, when your passion lies in a specific field, it does not mean you will be good at it. Some students choose majors in areas they love and then decide to change paths along the way.
For example, let’s say you love French and you even think about majoring in it. Along the way, you might realize that even though you love it, there is nothing much you can do with a French major. So you decide to take on something you’re good at, like business management.
Lack of exploration
Some high schools don’t help students figure out what they want to do in the future. Thus, many get into college without knowing their skills or strengths. When such students get to college, they realise there are many options, and therefore, the experimenting begins. Without help, such students might have to switch majors more than once to find what suits them.
Being discouraged by the sights
It is especially common for majors in medicine, where students have to deal with unsavory sights. Not everyone can handle blood. An individual might think they can take it, and it becomes too overwhelming for them along the way. Since they still love the field of medicine, the student might think of switching to something like psychiatry instead.
Lack of understanding
Students should be able to understand the majors they choose. So, when one struggles to grasp most of the concepts they’re being taught, the major might not be the right choice for them. This situation warrants a switch because they will struggle to complete the course if one sticks with such a major. They will often need help with essay and paper writing to bail them out on concepts they don’t understand.
The dose of reality
You may not have your future paths planned out when you get to college. It means you are likely to listen to other people’s ideas of what your future should be. So, you pick a common major to complete the selection process.
Fast forward a few months, and you experience a wake-up call and start thinking, ‘This is not for me,’ or ‘This was a mistake.’ You might still not know what you want to do, but you will have decided on what you don’t want.
Students are advised to choose majors from a place of passion because they will be excited to see it through. Some choose a course, and then after a few classes, they realise they are bored and have to make the switch. A good major should be something you find exciting and maybe even challenging enough to keep your attention.
The money vs passion choice
Sometimes, the need for financial stability outweighs a student’s passion when picking a major. Most individuals go to college through student loans, and they need to ensure they can pay it back once they get their career started. Different occupations promise different salaries, and in most cases, students will try to go where the most money is.
Some choose a course like engineering not because they’re interested in it, but because they know they can expect good salaries after college. Thus, some students comfortably take majors that make their life hard because of the promise of financial security. However, this also works both ways. Others switch from career paths that pay a lot to those that pay less, just because the latter ones make them happy.
Switching majors is a massive decision, and it should be something you have taken your time to weigh the pros and cons. Also, make sure it’s your decision to do it. A snarky comment from your relative about the major shouldn’t be reason enough to change it.
Finally, ensure your decision isn’t based on temporary issues that you can manage, for example, workload or fatigue. Other than that, learn to trust your gut to make the right call.
Alicia Saville did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She is interested in mental health and well-being.
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