changing you major in college, what to do when changing your major
NO CATEGORY / 14 December 2016
Changing Your Major? Here's What You Need to Know
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Gina Apperson

After countless hours spent agonizing over whether you should or should not you finally decide. You are changing your college major. But, wait! That’s just the beginning. What do you do? How do you go about it? Is it an intensive or simple process? Now What? 

If these thoughts have gone through your mind in college, I have two pieces of good news. One, this is totally normal! And two, this post is for you. When I was a freshman in college, I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted my major to be. But just in case, I decided to take an “Exploring Majors” class. Everyone has doubts in what they choose to study in college and most of us face the time when we desire to switch things up. Know that you are not alone. If you want to change your degree, consider these things to help you with the process.

1. Find the right person to talk to.

This could be a professor in your new major or an academic advisor. Whether you’re considering a career in computer science or marketing,  talk to a couple professors, or an upperclassman, about your options to change majors. The good news is that professors are always open to talking about their field – it’s what they do for a living. Start by looking at the list of classes for a major and find one that stands out to you most, and then contact the teacher to ask them more about it. 

Setting up a meeting with a professor helped me decide to add a Spanish minor and continue to take Spanish classes in college. (If you don’t follow any other tips, follow this one!) 

To get you started, here are some questions you can ask professors:

2. Evaluate your four-year plan.

Making your four-year plan goes hand in hand with changing or choosing a major. If you have a change of heart with what you want to study, go back to your four-year plan and reevaluate. You can often reroute your studies within four years since many colleges start with general requirements the first two years. This is a great template of a 4 year plan that will help keep you organized. 

Tackling a four-year plan can be complicated, so I suggest setting up a meeting with a general academic advisor. This is the person that knows everything there is to know about all the majors, classes, and requirements at your school. At my college, my friends scheduled meetings with the director of academic support, which helped them significantly understand their four-year plan and the requirements if they changed majors, added a minor or dropped a double major. They sung praises after those meetings. Find that person with all the knowledge at your school and I can bet they can put your new major into perspective.

3. Think about the community surrounding your major.

While each major at your school probably has a diverse group of people, there may be different senses of community within each major at your school. For example, majors with less people often were a close-knit group of people who hung out outside of class and helped each other with their professional pursuits. My major—Strategic Communications—was the largest major at my school. That meant I didn’t know everyone in my major, but we had a lot of opportunities to meet new people and be involved in many extracurricular activities and hands-on projects. There was no shortage of things you could get involved with. For smaller majors like English, I saw that students became friends easily and were able to help each other out with projects, reading resumes and getting opportunities. No matter the major, take the opportunity to meet people and use the website, Meetup, to help you. 

It all depends on 1) what you’re interested in and 2) the type of environment where you thrive. Consider the type of people you want to surround yourself with when it comes to changing your major.

4. Think about your major from a career perspective.

Even if you have no idea what career path to take, think about your interests and your passions when it comes to selecting a major. Write down your strengths and get to know yourself. Don’t step into the career center or advising center when it’s your senior year. Start when you first get to campus and explore options early. Nothing beats getting actual, real-world experience when it comes to figuring out what interests you and what you want to major in. Take on projects! The more experience you have with working with companies in real time, the more impressive and employable you will be. 

The real reason for choosing a college major is to help you with your career. Even if you are “undecided” or want to declare a different major, apply for internships or apprenticeships so that you can understand the ins and outs of the industry from a practical level instead of an academic level. If you could see yourself as a journalist, try interning for a magazine or newspaper in your town. If you want to go into sales or marketing, apply for an internship or meet with industry professionals. Even if you are changing your major, these are great times to open yourself up to the everyday working life of different professions. Take notes. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Looking at your major from a career perspective can help put your interests and academic plans into focus.

Ultimately, don’t be afraid of change. Changing up your major can open you up to exactly the point where you need to be in life. It can allow you to learn more, gain strength from transition and assist you in building your professional life. Don’t be afraid to focus on what works best for you–changing your major is just one decision in your whole career. Don’t get so hung up on it because the average person changes careers 7-10 times in their lives. Your new major maybe what motivates you and gets you excited about starting a career in that field. 

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