- Sixty percent of students change majors before graduating.
- There are many factors that contribute to choosing a major.
- If you’re in the wrong major, it may be time to change.
Picture yourself in a room with nine other college students. Before you graduate, at least six of those students will have changed their major at least once. And one or two of the remaining four will likely leave school regretting the major they chose and wishing they too had switched to another major.
It’s no wonder so many college students change majors, or wish they had before graduating. In 2000, the National Association of Colleges and Employers — a professional organization of college career counselors and entry-level employers — asked 1,218 college students how they selected their majors. Only 66 percent said they’d picked a major based on their career interests. Among the rest:
- Seven percent chose their major based on its perceived earning potential.
- Six percent picked their major following the advice — or, probably in some cases, demands — of friends and family.
- Twelve percent said they just sort of drifted into their major.
- Nine percent cited other reasons, including inspiration from their teachers.
So if you’ve got a major you are thinking of changing, you’re far from alone. But how do you know whether you should go ahead and actually make the move?
Try this checklist:
You’re Bored to Tears in Your Current Major Courses
Suppose you’re majoring in chemistry, and every time you go to one of your chemistry classes, you fight to stay alert. Maybe you even dread going to the classes in the first place. Sound familiar? Then give yourself one point.
You’re Doing Poorly in Your Current Major Courses
Try as you might, you just can’t seem to get a handle on the academic work within your current major. You spend hours and hours studying and preparing for exams, but you’re still not getting the results you want. More and more, you’re feeling like you’re beating your head against the wall. Sound like you? Give yourself one point.
You Chose Your Current Major Without Much Thought
As you look back on how you picked your major, you slowly begin to realize you went with it based solely on its earning potential, or because a friend or parent told you to, or because you just sort of drifted into it. Give yourself one point if your major selection process was less than sound.
You Keep Reading/Asking about Other Majors
Do you constantly page through your school’s undergraduate bulletin in search of another major? Have you been talking to professors and other students about their academic programs? Have you studied one particular major so much that you feel like you know it better than some of the students in the department do? If so, give yourself one point.
You Just Can’t Let the Idea Go!
Maybe you’ve been thinking about changing your major for a year. Or maybe you’ve been pondering it for a shorter period of time, but the thought just keeps nagging…and nagging…and nagging at you. The idea just won’t go away, no matter how hard you try to suppress it. Accurate? Give yourself one point.
How did you do? If you gave yourself three points or more, it’s probably time to take the plunge and change your major. If you gave yourself two points, talk the idea over with your academic advisor or a campus career counselor. If you gave yourself one point or no points, you’re probably best off sitting tight — at least for now.
Even though the major you choose doesn’t necessarily predict the future career you’ll pursue, it’s important to pick a major that engages you and prepares you well for the rapidly changing world of work. So take some time to critically evaluate your reasons — or lack thereof! — for choosing the major you’ve selected. If they don’t add up, don’t be afraid to make a change.
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