Choosing your college major is no easy task. Whether you have known the direction you wanted to take since you were young, or if you had a vague idea (or no idea at all) when you arrived on campus, you will need to choose a major when you get to college. Why? By choosing your major, you are choosing what you will study for the next four years. This major will lead into career opportunities and open doors in your future.
So, what if your major just doesn’t feel right after you have taken a few classes? How can you tell if you are headed down an academic path that isn’t right for you? Believe it or not, there are tell-tale signs, and changing majors in college is more common than you may think. We’ll share the signs that you need to switch majors, and tips to do it effectively.
6 Signs You Should Change Your Major
- You don’t know why you chose your major in the first place. Let’s face it: Sometimes our loved ones are quick to offer advice. Your mom, your sister, your cousin, your best friend — they all know you pretty well, and all are likely suggesting your course of study. They may have made suggestions, or have shared their experience with the same major, which made it sound really interesting. When you started taking classes, though, they weren’t at all what you expected.
- You aren’t doing well in any of your classes. If you are having a lot of difficulty in a particular subject, it may be a sign that it’s not your true calling. Every major has challenging coursework; college is meant to stretch your boundaries and think in ways you haven’t thought before. But if you can’t seem to pull your grades up no matter how much you study, and the coursework just doesn’t “click” at all, you may want to consider exploring some other subject areas.
- You are doing TOO well in your classes. College is meant to challenge you. If you find yourself bored and not engaged in your classes, and if the subject matter seems to come too easily to you, you might just be going through the motions. Your coursework should be engaging, and something that you enjoy thinking about. If this isn’t the case, you may want to consider reevaluating your major.
- You chose your major because you thought it would mean big bucks later on. Yes, college is designed to prepare you for your career, but money can’t be your sole driving force when choosing your next steps in life. By choosing a major that you have zero interest in just because you think you will make more money later, you likely won’t excel in the future.
- You are more curious about your friend’s classes. If you are studying pre-med, but your friends are all talking about the great marketing classes they are taking — and they sound more interesting — you may want to re-evaluate. If you find yourself asking more and more questions about what they are doing, you may want to explore and take a few of their classes and see what all the hype is about.
- You hated your internship. Internships are designed to give you hands-on experience in your field of study. If you hated your internship, you may not want to spend the next 40 years in that field. Evaluate what you didn’t like, and re-think your direction.
How to Choose the Right Major
When you arrive on campus in the fall, schedule a meeting with your adviser. Be honest about where you see yourself in five, 10 or even 20 years, and discuss how you might get there. Your adviser may have career assessments that you can take, or suggest exploratory classes that will help you narrow down your interests. Many schools will also require that you take classes in a variety of areas to expose you to subjects you may not be familiar with.
How to Fix a Major Misstep
If you have taken all the right steps and still find yourself in the wrong major, don’t worry. Talk to your adviser about changing your major; they can give you some of the best advice. They may help you find resources in the department you are considering. Consider sitting down with people (professors, teaching assistants, other students) in the department you are considering switching to — these people will be able to give you an idea of the coursework and requirements, and what you will be doing. Check out the class list and consider sitting in on a class or two. Talk to these people about career outlooks and other resources.
Your major is a big decision in college, but it doesn’t have to lock you into what you will be doing for the next 40-plus years of your life. Take some of the pressure off yourself: understand that people change course all the time later in life — you never have to be “stuck” in a field that you don’t love. Life is all about growing and evolving.