“What do you want to be when you grow up?” As a college senior, you’ve more than likely heard that questions a million times by now. Also by this point, you may have distilled your classes and interests into what you want to “be” as an adult. That usually translates into a major program of study at your college or university of choice. But education opens doors and sometimes windows, and you may face the desire to change majors. That desire can trigger an accompanying set of anxieties. Is it OK to do that? You were accepted into your school as an engineering or pre-law or history or design major… whatever it is, you started as that student. Is it ok if jump ship? What does that mean in the long run?
The numbers don’t lie. Over the last decade, the U.S. Department of Education reported that 33% percent — roughly 1 in 3 — 4-year college students changed their major. 1 in 9 changed their major twice. What can we learn from this? You’re not alone. Going to college isn’t just training for a career. An education is supposed to open up new possibilities.
Every year, students change their major, and every year, there’s a group of parents who cry “but you’ve always wanted to be a doctor/lawyer/zookeeper.”
What happens when your dreams and ambitions change? How do you communicate wanting to change majors to everyone? As Teen Vogue says, gather all the details before approach your parents. They might view it as a waste of time or money, and as a result, find new worries as to your eventual career or job prospects, so anticipate these questions and fears, and head them off with research and a gameplan.
So, you think you do want to change majors. How do you go about doing this? What are the steps? Use the resources you have. Has a class you’re taking now or taken previously really made you look at a new area? Or maybe an extracurricular group made you rethink things? Make an appointment to speak with that class professor or group administrator. They’ll help you, or refer you to someone who can. Research those majors and eventual job prospects. Find students in that program and talk to them. Then, lastly, make an appointment to speak with your current department chair or academic resource. You’ll get a roadmap of what you’ll need to do, if your current class credits fulfill new ones, and if your graduation date might change (this can happen depending on your changes).
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Importantly, don’t do anything without research and consideration. Changing majors isn’t “freeing” you from any situation. It’s changing direction, and that can and will come with new challenges. If it’s the right decision, you’ll have a new energy in your gut.
Lastly, don’t be afraid of the new! That’s what education is for! Open that door and explore!