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10 Things That Happen When You Switch Majors

Making the decision to change your major can be a daunting decision and an even more painful experience. Fortunately, you can do things to alleviate the stresses associated with switching your major, and knowing what to expect is an essential part.

Here are 10 things that happen when you switch majors:

  1. Losing credits earned from a previous major.
  2. Postponement of graduation date.
  3. May cost more money.
  4. Having mixed emotions throughout the process.
  5. Having new classes and unfamiliar faces.
  6. Managing the opinions of others.
  7. Waiting until the following semester to change major.
  8. Meeting all the requirements for the new course.
  9. Considering the job market for the new major.
  10. Doing relevant research for the new major.

In the rest of this article, I’ll explore all the things that could happen when you switch majors, what might go wrong during the process, and how to manage the change of direction with as little stress as possible.

What to know when switching college majors.

1. Losing Credits Earned From a Previous Major

Even if you’ve been in your current course for around 2 years, you can bet that those credits are helpful to your ability to graduate on time. Losing them might seem like you’ve wasted your time, but in the long run, the extra work will pay off in your future career (source).

If you haven’t yet completed 60 credits, you may be able to transfer your completed credits over to your new course. You don’t have anything to worry about if you can do this, and you’ll likely finish your study around your original planned date.

There are some instances wherein universities have Transfer Articulation Agreements. 

You can use these agreements if you want to transfer your credits over to a different program or major. It’s a good idea to check with your personal tutor to see if your university can give you access to this.

The lesson to be learned in this situation is that you should aim to make a final decision on your major before you have taken the first 60 credits of your original college program. Many colleges and universities don’t allow students to change their major after 90 credits have been completed (source).

This will make the process much easier to deal with, and the transition from one major to another will be much smoother.

2. Postponement of Graduation Date

It might seem disheartening to postpone the date of your graduation, but if your college major isn’t working out the way you planned, then, in the long run, you’ll benefit from the change.

Postponing your graduation by one or two semesters isn’t a big deal. It may make you feel as though you’ve wasted your time, but in reality, you’re growing as a person and learning to take responsibility for the decisions you make.

If you change your major, and your graduation will be pushed back by a significant amount, your decision will have to be final. For example, if you change from an English major to Medicine and Surgery, you will need to take extra courses to meet the graduation requirements. 

It’s paramount for you to take the necessary time to make this critical choice so that you don’t make the wrong decision. 

Work alongside your personal tutor or advisor to ensure that you make the correct choice (source).

3. Switching Majors May Cost More Money

If you’re dead set on changing your major, it’s essential to consider the financial implications of your decision. 

Every major generally has different costs associated with it, so switching to an entirely new course with a drastically different trajectory could cost you a lot of money. If you have access to student loans, you’ll need to amend any necessary paperwork with your newly chosen major details.

However, if you’ve been accepted to the university under a scholarship, or you have a financial aid agreement with your college, then switching your major could have a negative impact on the amount of aid you receive. 

You might have to pay back some of the money you were given, especially if the scholarship was for a specific program or major (source).

To ensure that you don’t fall victim to this, it’s best to discuss your personal situation with either a financial aid advisor at the college, your advisor, or with one of your professors. 

Additionally, if your new major has a later graduation date than your previous major, then it’s likely that any extra semesters will need to be paid for in full. When making decisions related to switching your major, take this into account, and ensure that there are no surprises going forward.

Finally, if you’re an international student with a study visa, changing your major could have visa implications for you. Be sure to check whether or not you’ll have to reapply for your student visa, and what processes are involved (source).

4. Having Mixed Emotions Throughout the Process

It’s entirely natural to have mixed feelings about changing your major, especially if the two are drastically different. 

You may feel some level of apprehension when beginning your new course or program, and sitting amongst a sea of new, unfamiliar faces can seem daunting at first. When this happens, remember all the reasons why you changed your major. 

But being nervous in a new environment is entirely normal (source).

You may even, at some point, feel a twinge of regret. Again, this emotion is completely normal, and the anxiety that comes with making big life decisions is a universal phenomenon.

If you’re struggling emotionally during the process of changing your major, or you feel overwhelmed, then it’s best to have a chat with a student counselor. The sooner you take control of these feelings, the sooner you can get back to enjoying your university experience. 

Also, if you think you’re doing the wrong thing, you may want to wait for a while to change your major until you’ve completely looked at all the angles.

5. Having New Classes and Unfamiliar Faces

Especially in cases where your new course is drastically different from your old course, entering a new classroom with a new teacher, new students, and an entirely new curriculum will be confusing at first. 

However, if you’re still at the same college, you might still find some familiar faces.

It’s essential to understand that, in this situation, it’s inevitable that your new course is different from your previous major. It’s necessary to take control of your new circumstances by doing any catching-up required, including any coursework and taking advantage of extra credit.

If you’ve done enough research before you changed majors, you’ll find that the overall experience won’t be too alarming. In ideal circumstances, you should walk into your first lecture with the confidence that comes from in-depth research (source).

6. Managing the Opinions of Others

Telling people about your decision to switch majors, and especially telling your parents, can sometimes seem like an intimidating task. 

Waiting until you have made your final decision can alleviate some of the anxiety that goes along with telling your friends and family about your desire to follow a new path in life. Dealing with the opinions of the people around you can be much easier when you’re more settled on your decision and happier about the outcome.

Do your relevant research, talk to your college advisor, consider any financial considerations, and try to make up your mind before discussing your circumstances with other people. 

Of course, the opinions of others might be irrelevant, considering that this is your life and no one else’s. While you want to consider what others have to say about you changing majors, it doesn’t matter as much, as they aren’t living your life.

7. Waiting Until the Following Semester To Change Major

Many universities and colleges have a protocol set up for students wishing to change their major or drop specific courses. 

These protocols often mean a lot of paperwork and discussion with the relevant university bodies. You may even have to reapply to a new school if your preferred major is in a different academic sphere.

Depending on your college, you may be obligated to wait for the beginning of the next semester to change your major. This is especially the case if your college has specific deadlines for academic decisions. 

If this is the case, try not to worry too much about it. Toughing it out for one semester might seem like an arduous, and often pointless, task, but unfortunately, you probably won’t have much of a choice if it’s university policy (source). 

8. Meeting All the Requirements for the New Course

Since your preferred major is entirely new, there are likely several new requirements that you’ll need to manage before you can be enrolled in the major.

Before you decide to leave your current major, it’s essential to do as much research as possible about your new major and ensure you know all the academic requirements. Knowing this will keep you in good standing when it comes to reapplying for a new major. 

The precise criteria required for each major vary greatly. 

Still, you’ll have to demonstrate your suitability for the course by providing credit transcripts and any work experience you may have gained in the process (source).

9. Considering the Job Market for the New Major

In full truth, most people don’t end up in jobs directly associated with their college major. The likelihood is that whatever major you choose unless it’s a specialist course such as medicine and dentistry, will give you more luck in your future job search.

If you choose an entirely new major, you’ll probably find that jobs related to the new major are slightly different from your previous one. 

Taking this into account right from the beginning can help you in your future job search, and it can also help you find internships that are relevant to your new major. If your skills and abilities don’t match your course requirements, you can find many online resources that’ll help you get there (source).

10. Doing Relevant Research for the New Major

Doing enough research before you decide to switch your major is absolutely essential. 

Making big life decisions like this requires a lot of determination, and you have to have the motivation to do enough research to ensure you’re making the right decision.

You should be able to understand the requirements of your new course and bring up examples of future job specifications. Thinking about the far future might seem irrelevant at this point, but if you’ve had enough time to think about what you want, it’ll help you tremendously when you graduate. 

In reality, your personal goals and career aspirations need to line up with your choice of major. 

If you find in your research that these don’t align, you may need to rethink your decision of switching your major and instead find a way to make your current major work. 

You might need to remember that if you find your current classes boring or tedious, this may well be a temporary problem with many long-term fixes. Finding a class boring isn’t a reason in and of itself to change your major, and sometimes just having a chat with your personal advisor can alleviate some of these concerns.

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