As a college student, your major plays a huge role in your future as well as your personal identity. But what happens if you realize that your major may not be the one for you? The unfortunate truth is people will change their minds about what to study. Switching your major can be a huge decision that affects more than the words on your diploma. However, if you are ready to make the switch, here are six helpful steps on navigating the process.
Step 1: Talk it out
Changing your major, especially if you are not in your first year, can be an extremely difficult and emotional decision. Often, students will change their major just because of stress or struggling in one class. This is quite common, but do not let your reactions get the better of your educational plan. Instead, talk it out with classmates, parents, advisers, and even counselors. They are there to help you make the right, objective decision for your future.
Step 2: Formulate a Plan
If you talk it through and are still convinced that switching your major is the right choice, begin approaching the change with a thought out plan. First, think about what you want to do instead. Determine if switching your major will allow you to stay in the same program or force you to apply to a different one. Then, map out these decisions and create a systematic list based on your university and school’s rules regarding major changes.
Step 3: Meet with New Major Administrators/Professors
For some universities, you will not be able to declare your major right away. Instead, you will have to go through an application process. If this is required of you or if you are anxious about making the change altogether, set up a time to meet with the new administrators, advisers, or professors of the program. They will most likely ask you about your motivations for changing and will assist you in assessing whether their program is right for you based on your needs and plans.
Step 4: Check On Deadlines
One of the biggest mistakes students make in switching their majors is missing important deadlines. This includes changing, adding, and dropping courses. While you should most likely make the decision to switch majors at the beginning of a new term, you may have the opportunity to switch or take a short break mid-term without penalty. Look up your registrar’s office website or calendar to be sure you will fall within those deadlines.
Step 5: Know the Consequences
Be honest with yourself. If you plan to switch to an entirely different field, be sure that you know your change may affect when you graduate and/or extend your time as a student because of unusable credits. Knowing the consequences of your major switch is important before declaring your change.
Step 6: Explore Other Options
There are always alternatives to switching majors. For one, you could receive a certificate in your desired school or even enroll in a minor program. Many students do not realize that they could receive a minor or certificate for their old major if they apply for it! Other options include performing an internship in your new major’s field or delaying decisions until the summer when it is easier to make up credits.
Switching majors can be exciting, scary, and nerve-wracking all at the same time. Before you jump, sit down with your family and trusted advisers to weigh the pros and cons. Once you have a plan in place and are sure of your switch, declaring a new major can be a great way to get you started on a new academic path.
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