If you’re unhappy with the major you’ve chosen, do something different to maximize your experience.
If you’ve ever been forced to sit in a lecture hall and endure an intro class, you know that college courses don’t always leave you on the edge of your seat. But what happens when you start really diving into the material related to your major and you’re still feeling this way? Some students opt to grin and bear it and make the most out of college in other ways, while others decide it’s time to make an adjustment. If you’re considering switching majors, here are some things to think about:
1. Do research about your new major.
While you may be itching to get out of classes that don’t interest you anymore, it’s important to do some planning first. Jeff Kaczmarczyk, a 2006 Syracuse University graduate who changed his major, advises careful research into your potential new degree path before you commit.
“Look at the course descriptions and the curriculum for your potential new major,” he said, “and make sure it’s exactly what you want. The overall program name may sound attractive, but see what’s actually involved.” It’s also worthwhile to talk to other students who are currently in the major to find out about their experiences. Try meeting with potential professors so you can see if their teaching style fits with the way you prefer to learn.
2. Find out how a change will impact your graduation plan.
Depending on your school’s flexibility, switching your major may inhibit your ability to graduate on time. Before you make any changes, talk with an adviser who knows how your institution’s curriculum works. He or she can help you determine if credits you’ve already taken will count toward your new degree. This will give you a clearer picture of what your remaining time in college will look like.
3. Don’t worry if you don’t know exactly what you want to do.
Some students realize that their current major isn’t the right fit for them, but they’re unsure where they want to go next. Bridget Lichtinger, assistant director of the Career Development Center at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, frequently helps students in this situation. If you’re looking for a major that better fits your personality, she advises identifying what attracted you to the degree you originally selected. What do you like and dislike about the courses you’re currently taking?
“Knowing what you don’t like is almost as powerful as knowing what you do like,” she said. Lichtinger also encourages students to talk with alumni who have successfully navigated similar switches.
4. If you can’t make a change, find other ways to maximize your experience.
Some students don’t realize that they’re unhappy with their path until it’s too late to switch. While this can feel frustrating, it doesn’t mean that your remaining time at school is a waste. Lichtinger advises those with regrets to look for other ways to get hands-on experience in their newly chosen field.
“Look into internships and get experience that way. These can even be campus-related internships,” she said. “If you want to do marketing, then do marketing for a campus magazine. When you’re doing that, it’s diversifying your skill set and it bolsters your resume too.”
5. Don’t worry about doubters.
After pursuing a particular path for a while, making a change may cause family members or friends to question your decision. Listening to these hesitations can create uncertainty about your choice, even if it truly is the right one for you. Rebecca Kelsey, a graduate of Florida International University, suggests tuning out the naysayers.
“There is no shame in switching majors,” she explained. “It shows strength to do what is best for you rather than what is easy.” She said that she frequently referred to idea that “fortune favors the brave” when dealing with her own major switch.
Your experience in classes, at internships and during extracurricular activities may leave you questioning the major you selected as you arrived on campus. If you realize this early enough, re-evaluate your situation and consider making an adjustment. If a change isn’t possible, keep in mind that your degree doesn’t have to limit you. Create a diverse experience for yourself and realize that your four years are about more than just your degree.
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