Switching majors doesn’t have to be a big deal, especially if you make the decision early enough. You do want to make sure that you’re switching for the right reason, however, so you don’t regret it later on.
If you can relate to any of the following six reasons, it might be a good idea to discuss switching majors with your academic advisor.
You want to go into a completely different field
So you had your mind set on being a psychologist, but after one semester you realize you’d rather pursue your passion for fine art. There’s little point in spending the next three years studying a subject you’re no longer interested in.
If you’re sure of your decision then the quicker you can switch majors the better. Otherwise you may find that it takes longer to earn your degree, as you need to catch up on prerequisite courses. Extra semesters often mean extra tuition fees, costing you money as well as time.
You want to go into a similar field
Conversely, wanting to go into a similar field is just as valid a reason to switch majors. Switching electrical engineering for mechanical engineering, for example, could actually be fairly painless, as some classes may be included on both syllabuses. So don’t hesitate to switch to your preferred specialty.
The learning environment doesn’t suit you
The learning environment that you find yourself in as an undergraduate can depend on many different factors, including the subject, the college or university, and even the professor. If you were looking forward to doing lots of hands-on lab work as part of your science degree, but find that you’re mostly taking notes and doing theory work, you may feel disappointed. Likewise if you learn better in a small class environment and find yourself in 300-person lectures.
If you find that the learning environment of your major doesn’t suit you, your first step should be to confirm with your professor or advisor that it won’t eventually change—you don’t want to jump ship too soon! If the environment is likely to stay the same, discuss which major might suit you better. Be sure to get a good idea of the new course of study and how it’s delivered before you switch!
The teaching style doesn’t suit you
There are three main learning styles: auditory (hearing the information), visual (seeing the information), and tactile/kinesthetic (learning through doing). These are all suited to different teaching styles. For example, an auditory learner is likely to prefer spoken lectures and discussion groups, a visual learner is likely to prefer textbooks and visual aids, and a tactile learner learns best through attempting a task.
If you find that the teaching style on your major is at odds with your learning style—for example, the professor posts information on slides rather than delivering spoken lectures—you should discuss this with them first to try to identify possible solutions. If this isn’t helpful then switching majors may be an option to consider.
You’re finding the subject too difficult or challenging
We all have varying levels of skill in different subjects. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, elements of a particular subject remain outside of our understanding. If you’re struggling to grasp key elements of your chosen subject early on, you might find that it becomes even more difficult as the major progresses. However, you shouldn’t necessarily let one stumbling block put you off a subject completely, so discuss with your teacher before deciding to switch.
You just don’t enjoy it
Four years is a long time to take classes that you don’t enjoy. Plus you’re probably more likely to skip classes and put less effort into your assignments if you don’t find the subject engaging. If you’re in the first year of pursuing your major and are really hating it, cutting your losses could be a good idea. However, if you’re in the final year of your degree, you’ll have to decide between switching and adding another year or more to your course of study—or biting the bullet to graduate when intended.
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