Did you know that almost a third of students change their major at least once before they graduate? As students learn about themselves, meet new people and explore their career options, their goals are likely to shift, often resulting in a change in direction and a change in major.
Things to Consider When Changing a Major
College is a time for academic and career exploration. Students may start with one major and end up finishing with an entirely different choice. If you are considering switching majors, know that you are not alone; many of your peers are going through the same process. Before taking the leap consider the same elements you did when deciding on a major, but add these five critical elements:
One key aspect to switching your major is timing. The longer you have been in a program, the more difficult it can become to change direction. For example, if you are in your third year of college, chances are it may be too late given specific course credits associated with the major. Changing majors requires academic planning and certain prerequisites, especially in a small liberal arts environment when certain courses are offered every other year. But if you must change majors, then be ready to make changes that may affect your graduation date or require taking additional courses in the summer.
- Do some research and map out a strategy for transitioning to the new major
- Bring your plan to an academic advisor and discuss ways to make the change
- Consult others such as Career Development staff and the Registrar to confirm your decision is sound and doable
It is important to evaluate your potential for completing the major in which you are interested. Taking courses that are required to successfully complete that major can clear doubts before investing in the change. The earlier the change occurs the less time will be potentially lost. If you decide not to switch majors, you may find that you can use those courses toward a minor in the subject instead.
Understanding of Post-College Opportunities
Understanding the job market for particular fields is important to understanding how your major will be applied toward the job market. There are great resources that you can explore to get an idea of what jobs have bright outlooks while others may be in decline. These resources can also provide an idea of salary ranges for particular occupations. The Occupational Outlook Handbook, ONET Online, and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics are great resources for exploring statistical data national and regional data regarding wages and outlooks for future employment in a particular field.
What kind of resources does the department of your desired major have in terms of activities that will enhance your marketability when you graduate? Check into funding opportunities, projects, conferences, internships, research. Where are students finding jobs as a result of graduating from the program? The department chair is a great resource to talk to before you make your decision.
Financing college can be a big task for students, and any changes to your academic schedule can delay graduation. If changing majors means taking more time to graduate, then you may need to consider cost as a factor in making your decision. Perhaps developing a list of pros and cons can help you with your decision to switch majors. Enlist the help of an advisor to help you determine how much of your former program can transfer into the new one. Create a chart to evaluate the pros and cons of your decision. If you find that changing majors is worth the time and money, then it is worth your investment. Be sure to check with financial aid as well as investigate is there is additional scholarship finds available with the new major.