When you start to realize that the major you’ve signed up for isn’t the best fit for you anymore, it can cause some anxiety. If you want to go to graduate school afterward, you might be especially nervous. Will switching majors ultimately hurt you?
Switching majors doesn’t look bad and is fairly normal for undergraduate students. In fact, it can increase your chances of graduating. Just keep in mind that it may cost you some extra money, and you may be in school for longer than you planned.
This article will help you assuage your fears about switching majors and talk more about the process of how to change majors.
Why It Isn’t Bad To Switch Majors
You may worry that switching majors sends a bad message to graduate schools and employers. For instance, you may worry that people will believe you’re indecisive or couldn’t keep up in your classes.
In fact, you’d be surprised at the benefits of switching majors. According to one report from the U.S. Department of Education, nearly one-third of students enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program switched majors at one point in their college career.
That means that if you do decide to switch, you’re in good company.
The idea that eighteen-year-olds need to know what they want to do with the rest of their life has been debunked. Deciding to switch is a very mature decision, as acknowledging that your skills and interests have evolved is the sign of someone who isn’t afraid to grow.
Why It May Be Good To Switch Majors
Not only does switching majors not look bad, it can actually help you further your college career. In fact, it can raise your chances of graduating and having a degree will benefit you in the long run.
According to a study from EAB, students who never switch majors are 5% less likely to graduate. Not only that, students who decide to switch majors at the beginning of their junior year have the highest graduation rate.
Sticking with an area of study you dislike just because you don’t want to change your major can hurt you.
Your work ethic simply won’t be there if you decide to “tough it out” and not switch. What’s more, the constant pressure of having to deal with coursework that you don’t enjoy will have negative mental consequences.
When you realize that your passions lie elsewhere, the best thing you can do for yourself is to follow your gut.
How To Know When To Change Majors
Deciding to change majors is a big decision with consequences, so you don’t want to switch if you’re not absolutely sure. But how can you know when it’s time to throw in the towel on your old major?
College is meant to be challenging, and you might find that your college career isn’t going exactly how you planned. That is always a disheartening realization, but it might not be your major that’s making you feel this way.
If you’re thinking of switching, make a list outlining all your reasons why. It might be helpful to know what is a good reason to switch, as well as what isn’t.
DON’T change majors if:
- You don’t like a certain class or professor.
- You aren’t getting your work in on time.
- Your friends are all in a different major than you.
- You don’t think your chosen major will earn you money.
- You are generally depressed and hope that switching majors will fix it.
DO consider changing majors if:
- You find yourself dreading ALL required classes for your major.
- You aren’t proud of your work.
- Your elective classes are significantly more engaging to you.
- Your “dream career” has changed, and a different major would be a better fit.
- You interned or worked at a job in your major’s field and hated it.
Be honest with yourself when you list out your reasons. If you decide that changing your majors isn’t the solution, you may just need to drop that one difficult class or ask for help from a friend or qualified advisor.
See also: When Is It Too Late To Change Majors?
What Happens When You Change Your Major?
The process of changing majors will depend on the school that you’re going to.
When you change your major, you may have to fill out a form, or you may need to speak to professors who teach the major you’re planning to switch to and ask them to sign off for you. Go talk to your guidance counselor about the formalities of re-declaring your major.
However, there are two things you need to be prepared for if you do decide to commit to a major change:
- You may need to pay more money. This is the biggest reason that dissuades people from switching. Some studies show that switching majors can cost you as much as an extra $20,000 on top of what you’ve already paid. If you’re changing to a major that shares a lot of core classes with your original major, you probably won’t have to pay as much.
- You may be in college longer. Catching up to get all of the new major’s requirements can be a headache and may take some time. If you’re deciding to switch later in your college career, this is even more likely.
If you can’t afford this or don’t want to spend extra time in college, bring these concerns to your guidance counselor. They may have some solutions, scholarships, or alternative classes you can take to cut down on time and money.
This YouTuber goes over some really good insights when considering changing your major:
If you’re thinking of switching majors and are terrified of what will happen, don’t be. Plenty of students switch majors, and it will ultimately increase your chances of graduating. Don’t worry about how it will look to outsiders, because all that matters is your own education.
College isn’t only a time to prepare yourself for the workplace, graduate school, and adult life, but a time to learn what you are good at and how you want to spend your time. Trust how you’re feeling and switch majors if you want to.