Thoughts to consider before changing the course of your college education.
Some people declare their future profession on one of those chalkboard signs parents have kids hold in back-to-school photos and never look back. Their future moves forward on a straight path to a career as a nurse, teacher or super hero. That’s awesome! Good for them. For most of us, though, the path to a fulfilling career is more confusing than a multi-lane roundabout. In college, many students find declaring a major difficult. Others, who have declared a major, sometimes find themselves asking, “Can I change my major?”
Can I change my major?
The simple answer is YES. Changing majors is common for college students.
Before changing your major, there are some serious questions you need to explore. This will help you determine if changing majors is the best route for you and your long-term goals.
1) Are my classes too challenging?
If yes, make an appointment with your college’s Learning Resource Center. Many students, even ones on Dean’s List, seek out tutoring for extra help or to understand challenging concepts. You could also enlist others in class for additional study sessions, visit your professors during office hours and get help from the writing center. There are many resources to help you succeed in college. Take advantage of them!
2) Is my major different than I thought it would be?
Did you not realize that a career in social work involves a lot of paperwork? Did you discover that a love for reading does not always equate to a passion for the intricacies of English literature?
You may not like certain parts of your college coursework, but your major may still lead to a fulfilling career. Seek experiences where you can shadow a professional or dive deep into your major through internships, research experiences and hands on learning. These opportunities may confirm your suspicions, lead you to an adjacent field or move you in a completely new direction.
Nathan DeWeese’s IT internship led to an interest in investing.
Nathan’s internship with State Auto Insurance helped him realize his passion was not in IT. Being a numbers-oriented and analytics-driven person, investments sparked a bigger interest. He was able to learn from others outside of his department.
Read about Nathan’s path of discovery >
3) Does my major matter?
There are some professions where a specific college major is necessary. For example, registered dietitian nutritionists (RDN) are licensed health care professionals and must follow a specific curriculum in their undergraduate and graduate studies. After graduation, dietetics students must pass a licensing exam to become an RDN.
However, students who graduate from liberal arts colleges often take classes in a broad range of subjects and develop skills such as communication, teamwork and problem solving. These transferable skills can be used in many different career paths and are often what employers seek in job candidates.
As this article explains, there are no useless degrees. So, if you are close to graduating, or changing your major will add years to your college experience, consider completing your degree. While finishing your degree, seek out mentors, work experiences and internships in a field you are more interested in.
If you are considering graduate education, remember even fashion majors can excel in law school.
Want to learn more about the value of transferable skills? Read our article on the value of a liberal arts education.
4) Who can help me?
- Professors: Talk to both your current professors and professors in the major you are considering. They can help you weigh the pros and cons of making the switch.
- Academic advisors: Learn more about how changing your major will impact your graduation plan. Can you still graduate on time? Will you need to add an extra year or take classes in the summer?
- Career center advisors: Not sure what you want to study? Professionals in college career or vocation centers have many tools to assess your strengths and interests. They can also determine what majors pair well with your strengths.
- Registrar: When you are ready to change your major, you will need to work with the registrar’s office to make the change official. The registrar can also help you add or drop courses.
Riley Garmatter sought help when declaring a major.
From talking with a psychology professor as a prospective student, to declaring a psychology/education double major to focusing in on education only, professors played a vital role in helping Riley find her way.
Learn more about Riley’s academic journey >
Advice from current college students!
“Talk to professors who teach in the majors you are interested in pursuing. Professors are happy to help you find your path to success.” Jordan J.
“We come to college at a very young age, and it is very hard to know what you want to do for the rest of your life! It’s okay to be open-minded and flexible about your future.” Leslie D.
“If you do not like your major, don’t panic! I switched my major from education to social work. I was so nervous to do this, but I am so happy with my decision! And, my professors in both majors are happy for me.” Noah H.
“I think it is important to trust your gut and listen to what you think is the right fit for you.” Carina D.
At Bluffton University…
You’ll be mentored by professors starting in your first semester of college. They’ll lead you through Design Your Life, a curriculum originally developed at Stanford University and adapted to fit the needs of Bluffton students. This class, along with the entire Bluffton Blueprint, will help you get more out of (instead of cramming more into) your life.
Plus, Bluffton has more than 80 majors, minors and interdisciplinary programs to fit your interests and career aspirations.