Have you ever been to a lecture where you can’t help but contemplate whether or not you made the right choice of college major? Many college students have that moment of realization sometime during their college career. When is too late to change?
It’s never too late to change majors. College students can make the switch halfway through their undergraduate program or in the final semester. However, you need to be sure it’s the right decision as changing your major later in your college career means more semesters and more tuition bills.
In this article, I’ll explain when the best time to change your major is, how to go about doing it, and how to know if you actually want to make the switch.
When Should You Change Your Major?
Although there isn’t an exact time limit to switching majors, many counselors recommend doing so after your first year of college. If you’re attending a liberal arts college or the university requires a base set of courses for all students, you’ll be busy completing these during your first year.
Following this standard gives you more time to change your major without worrying about wasted money.
However, if you start college with a liberal arts degree or just take general education classes, you can then decide on a major later when you know what you want to study. That way, you will have your core classes out of the way and you won’t waste more time and money on changing majors.
Many people say the best time to change your major is after your first or second year. Any earlier than that, you run the risk of changing your mind more often. Any later than that, you risk spending a lot of money on tuition and class fees.
If you feel like you need to switch, it’s helpful to consult with your academic counselor beforehand. They can guide you through the process and help you decide if switching is the path you want to go down.
Sometimes wishing to change majors boils down to an easily resolvable issue, and your counselor can give insight into your decision.
There are a few reasons you may be considering, or should consider, changing your major:
- You feel “stuck.” Maybe you’ve hit a rut in your current studies, and you don’t feel like you can take any more coursework pertaining to your major. If this is the case, your advisor may have you try taking fewer “major-related” courses for a semester before letting you officially switch.
- You let someone else choose your original major. Parents and guardians can put a lot of pressure on their kids to choose a major that is “parent-approved.” Having someone else choose is fine if you genuinely enjoy the coursework of the major they chose. However, this isn’t usually the case.
- You’re struggling with grades. You might consider switching majors if you’re struggling to get adequate grades in your classes. Having this concern is common, but if you’re basing your decision solely on your grades, you should seek tutoring or other extra help beforehand.
How to Change Your Major
The process of changing your major is actually fairly easy at most colleges and universities. It typically boils down to a few pieces of paperwork and one or two meetings with your academic advisor.
To best prepare yourself, here are the steps you need to take before taking the plunge:
- Consult with your academic advisor/counselor. Even if you’re sure you want to switch, you should still speak with your advisor. It’s their job to help you succeed, and they’ll be able to help you meet all requirements for changing majors. Many colleges and universities require you to complete the process through your advisor anyways, so it doesn’t hurt to ask them for advice too.
- Fill out any necessary paperwork. There are forms you need to fill out to change your major. This process may be a simple application, or you may be required to submit a portfolio depending on the major you choose.
- Submit your paperwork to the necessary office. Each institution varies, but you’ll likely need to submit paperwork to the office of your current major as well as your new declaration.
- Confirm the change has been made. Before signing up for your next round of classes, it’s important to ensure all paperwork has been accepted. Doing this will prevent future issues with credit transfers and other academic stipulations.
How to Know When a Major is Right For You
If you’re still on the fence about changing your major, or if you’ve already changed it, and you’re wondering if it was the right decision, there are a few good indicators to help you.
To begin with, a course of study requiring classes that pique your interest is probably the major you want to continue pursuing.
You’ll also know if a major is a right fit for you when you’re consistently good at the relevant courses.
If you’re a great writer and you’re majoring in journalism, the odds are in your favor. If you know more about the eating habits of a manatee than anyone and you’re studying marine biology, you’ve found your gold.
However, you can be good at something and not want to spend your life doing it.
While it’s helpful to be naturally talented in a specific major, you should still choose something you know will make you happy. A good major makes you feel passionate about the subject rather than dreading your 8 a.m. lecture every Monday.
Changing your major is an entirely rational decision.
Many people will end up changing their major at least three times before they graduate. With that being said, it’s best to change your major after your first or second year of studies to prevent accumulating more student debt.
When choosing your new course of study, remember to note your priorities and consider what you’re passionate about. The quicker you find something you know you’ll love studying, the faster you’ll graduate and pay off the mountain of debt you owe in student loans.