13 Signs You Need a Change of Major
A change of major is a decision not to take lightly. Of course, it happens. And quite often. But before you decide to take that step, you need to thoroughly evaluate your decision to do so.
In the following article, we’ll be doing just that. We’ll also be talking about why students decide to change their majors. Namely, they do it for the perceived advantages. Let’s have a look.
What Are the Advantages of Changing Your Major?
The advantages of changing your major aren’t always clear. In fact, sometimes they can be nonexistent. But that’s okay. It can work out for the best. If it does, it’s usually one of the four outcomes below that carry the weight.
Finding Something You Actually Enjoy
This is the Holy Grail advantage of switching majors. You realize you made a mistake but something occurs to you that you would like better. You make the transition and fall in love with everything about it. No need to shop around ever again.
Unfortunately, that’s not how it goes for a lot of folks. Some students can realize the grass isn’t always greener, so they end up changing majors again in a year or two. It creates a very vicious cycle.
Delaying the Obligations of ‘The Real World’ a Little Longer
College can be a lot of fun if you let it. It’s the time of your life when you figure out how to break free from Mom and Dad, become a full-fledged adult, and decide the type of person you ultimately wish to be. That’s definitely advantageous. But it can also bring with it a whole host of other problems.
For starters, you could end up losing financial assistance. The extra time in college will also guarantee you higher costs, thus necessitating a student loan you hadn’t anticipated. If you’re like the students who change their majors often, it can get really expensive in a hurry while offering you no real benefit.
Meeting People Who Are More in Line with Your Interests
This has a benefit on two different fronts. It can increase your social network — the actual one, not the one that’s driven solely by social media — and it can build a network of future work contacts that help you find a job. As most people find work through people they know, this is certainly a tangible advantage!
Unfortunately, changing your major simply because you like the people you’ll be going to classes with is a recipe for failure. It can separate you from your current circle and create tensions there. And if it doesn’t work out, you have even more explaining to do down the line.
Having a Clearer Picture of Yourself
Changing majors can better lead you toward the type of life you’d like to live and the person you want to be (i.e., your values, socialization, profession, etc.). This is a great reason to change your major, in fact. But be careful.
Don’t switch until you’ve done the research necessary for determining the new major is what you really want. The big mistake many people make is changing their major two or three or several times before figuring it all out. That breeds a lot of unnecessary confusion along the way.
Now that we’ve covered the advantages and precautions you need to take, here are the 13 signs that it’s time for a change of major.
1. You Have Evolved
Evolution is a part of life. We’re not talking in the scientific sense — though we’re not not talking about it either. We’re talking about it in the “you” sense.
As you learn and develop as a person, it’s only natural to form your own outlooks and beliefs. Don’t take that as a bad thing. College is a time when this happens quite a bit. And it can lead you into another career path.
If you get the sense your interests have changed, listen to it. It may be time to explore a new major.
2. School Environment Is Holding You Back
Do you feel like the environment you attend school in is crushing your will to succeed? Does it not present enough opportunity? Has that lack of opportunity caused you to sour on the field of study as a whole?
If you’re answering in the affirmative on one or all of those questions, it’s time to think about a change. Just make sure it’s not a decision you’re making because other friends are switching their majors as well. Make sure it’s something you legitimately want.
3. You Picked an Endangered Major
Colleges are in the process of realigning what they offer. And that’s a good thing even if it does create a few casualties. (Majors, not people, that is.)
Unfortunately, there are still some fields of study left in the course catalog that have no business being there. We’re not going to editorialize on what those are. But do a job outlook. You shouldn’t be entering a profession where automation is likely and pay is abysmal.
If you did pick an endangered major, start building an escape plan. Contact your advisor for additional help. Get out of there as soon as possible.
4. You No Longer Draw Inspiration from It
Every interest you have started with a spark of inspiration. If you’re lucky, that spark will follow you throughout your college career. If you’re not, it’s time to consider the possibility of another major.
Keep in mind that whatever you decide will influence a decade or more of your life. You can’t afford to be bored or burned-out by it. So take a long, hard look at the feelings you get from the job market you’re considering.
5. You Dread Going to Classes Related to Your Major
This can be one of the biggest “tells” that it’s time to go. One or two bad classes could be chalked up to a poor instructor. But if you struggle to find anything to look forward to on the content front or you can’t write out three things you enjoy about what you’re doing? That’s on you. Time to shake things up!
6. Your Grades Stink
One of the saddest things that can happen to someone enthusiastic about a subject is finding out they’re just not good at it. You can work your way into success to an extent. But if you don’t have the aptitude for something, you’ll never get there no matter how much you want it. Grades reflect that. One bad one isn’t going to sink the ship, but if you’re striking out all over, it’s time to consider that maybe the field you love doesn’t love you back.
7. You Chose Hastily
Some will find themselves gravitating toward a major naturally while others will struggle with the decision for a few years. With peer pressure being a powerful thing at all stages of development, it’s possible you may have picked a major that sounded good because all your friends already had their majors.
If that’s how you ended up choosing — or if you just hastily took the advice of an adult in your life who thinks they know you — then you could be needing a do-over. This decision is one that certainly should not be rushed. So don’t!
8. You Frequently Look Into Other Majors
The question, “What if?,” should only come up so much in regard to your major. Don’t let it linger. If you find yourself asking what if you’d gone with this major or that one, then resolve to get out of the one you’re in.
Of course, you don’t want to trade one bad major for another. So really do the research to see if there’s an a) job market, b) opportunity to show what you can do, and c) passion for it.
9. You Are Simply Chasing Money
Choosing a major because you envision making a lot of money is a bad idea. Money should be part of it but not the sole motivator. That’s because money does little to connect with your creative spirit. Eventually, you’ll end up burning out. And it’s hard starting over at 45 or 50.
10. You Struggle with Linking Your Major to Your Passions
Can’t see how you’d possibly use your major in your hobby or vice versa? That’s a good sign that you’re on the wrong path. Ideally, you want work to have the potential for feeling like play. You want it to be the kind of job where you don’t mind being called into work on a day off (sounds crazy, we know, but they’re out there). Figure out how you can pair the two together. If you can’t, keep trying for a major that’ll lead you down that path.
11. Your Major Fails to Show Off Your Strengths
This sort of plays into the passion thing. You’re good at certain things. We all are. But if you have no way of showing that, then you have no way of connecting the major to your passion.
Before choosing a new major, ask the people who know you best and do some self-examination. Ask, “What am I good at? Who would pay me to do that, at least in part? How would it manifest itself on the job?”
With a clearer picture, you’ll be able to choose a major that plays to your strengths.
12. You Cannot Tell People What You Would Like to Do with Your Life
If you can’t describe it, then you don’t want to do it. It’s that simple. Think of it like an elevator pitch. Be able to explain your career to someone in the length of time that it takes to ride on an elevator from one floor to the next. Can’t do it? Consider a different major.
13. Extra Credit Assignments Are Overwhelming
These often require some form of complex application of the major to the outside world. If you’re passionate and knowledgeable about what you’re doing, this isn’t difficult. If you’re not, it’s like pulling teeth.
How overwhelming are your extra credit assignments? Do you feel energized by them or put-off? Your handling of these paints an important picture of whether you’re in the right major.
Use Your Change of Major Wisely
Whatever you do, think through the decision to do a change of major. Choosing the wrong second or third will just set you back even further and compound the student loan debt you’ll be taking on. Good luck, whatever you decide!
[Featured Image by Wikimedia Commons]