Changing Majors Soon? Here Are 8 Things To Consider
Changing majors can be a stressful time, especially when you are walking away from something that you were once sure you wanted to do.
But life changes and experiences can steer you that direction, and when they do, you want to make sure that your pivot won’t lead you to just another dead end.
In that spirit, and as people who’ve been guilty of changing majors a time or two ourselves, we give you eight considerations that you’ll need to make to feel better about your decision. Let’s roll.
Tip No. 1 for Changing Majors: Know why you want to change in the first place.
One of the biggest mistakes that students make when changing majors is that they basically “trade old pain for new pain.”
They replace something that doesn’t work, in other words, with another something that doesn’t work. As a result, they end up needing to change majors again in a year or two.
To stop this from happening, you need to have a clear idea of why you want out in the first place, and that means knowing why you want in to whatever your something else happens to be.
Changing majors if you have researched all your possibilities will be more likely to work out that way.
Tip No. 2: Inventory the skills and knowledge you have.
Before you can make any meaningful changes to your major, you will need to take inventory of the skills and knowledge that you have.
Keep in mind that a change at the collegiate level means that you are starting a little behind the 8-ball the further you get away from your skill set.
When you play to your strengths while selecting a new major, you stand a much better chance of being able to make a smooth transition and excel.
Starting from scratch is almost never a good idea for reasons we’ll get in to in a moment. For now, just try to be as cross-disciplined as possible.
Tip No. 3: Identify the skills and knowledge you will need.
Once you have identified the skills and knowledge that you have, you will start to recognize gaps in knowledge (i.e., areas where you lack).
While it may seem like a bad thing to be ignorant of something, this is actually good because it gives you the chance to build a road map of where you need to be to excel at the new major.
If you are genuinely excited to learn more about what you are about to undertake, then you have probably made a wise choice.
But should your eyes be glazing over and it all seem too overwhelming, you may want to stop and reconsider. It should be noted that overwhelmed and being scared are two different things.
Overwhelmed, not good. Being scared? It’s make-or-break, but it can often lead to excitement when you have breakthroughs.
Don’t run away from a little fear, or you’ll be running away from everything for the rest of your life.
Tip No. 4: Determine viable jobs in the new major.
Connecting the dots between what you know and what you don’t and then determining whether the excitement is still there, will take you a long way when thinking about changing majors.
Once you’re there, it is time to think about how the new field of study will help you accomplish your goals.
In other words, what money is there to be made in the field, and can you see yourself enjoying what will be required of you to earn it?
With access to more technology and research tools than ever before, it is pretty easy to do a deep-dive and determine viable employment positions within a given field of study.
Get on sites like Quora and start asking questions, or consider the next suggestion.
Tip No. 5: Talk to a professor or advisor in the new field of study you are considering.
While the Internet can be a great tool for tracking down possibilities, nothing is quite as effective as access to an expert with their fingers on the pulse of the industry you are considering.
Of course, there always is some degree of truth to the idea that teachers, advisors, and counselors, are not necessarily doers in their field — more on that in a bit — but they do stay abreast of trends.
That knowledge can offer you the guidance you need to make an informed decision. It also can keep you from changing majors to an area that is on the decline.
Tip No. 6: Approach a business leader in a relevant niche.
The only professional who can provide better insight than your teachers, advisors, and counselors are people actually working within your industry of choice at this very minute.
When it’s your profession, you know what works now, where your industry is heading, and how to get there without making yourself obsolete. That’s the value these individuals can bring.
The only problem is access. Not everyone can just hang out with a CEO whenever they want. These are very busy people, and their business demands their time.
Aside from that, they have the freedom to say no. For that reason, you should be thoughtful and respectful when approaching with an “ask” for advice.
Tip No. 7: Volunteer.
One of the most frustrating things about any new endeavor is that people often don’t want to give you a chance at it if you lack experience, but unless you get the experience you’ll never be an attractive enough candidate to find work.
You can solve most of this trouble early by volunteering for organizations and causes that are in the new field of major and receptive to college students. If you live in a college town, you know there are several. Take advantage!
And the Final Tip for Changing Majors: Be realistic.
Hopefully by now you know enough to know all that follow your heart garbage people tell you is just that. You can’t do whatever you want in life or be anything you want to be.
Sure, it happens for the outliers from time to time, but what are the chances each and every one of you are outliers? Not very good.
And that’s not to be insulting. It’s only to point out that in life the odds are seldom in one’s favor. Just ask any high school football player with dreams of playing in the NFL. Sure, the NFL accepts a few hundred new players every year — but there are tens of thousands playing at the collegiate level.
The key is to make the odds work in your favor as much as possible, so that means being realistic. That means not resolving to be a first-class physicist if you can’t even pass a science for liberal arts majors course.
Be realistic about what you’re capable of with the tools and the interests that you have. If both tools and interests cannot work together, then changing majors to that particular thing is probably a bad idea.
So are you thinking of changing majors in the next semester or two? What is it that’s driving you to do it? What new major will you pick? And how big is the gap between your skills and your needs? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Featured Image by Pixabay]