It’s okay to change majors | The Triangle

It’s okay to change majors

Photograph courtesy of CollegeDegrees360 at Flickr

I applied to Drexel University as a biology major. Once I was accepted to Drexel, I decided that perhaps mechanical engineering would be the major for me. What did I know? Despite all that time trying to get into college, I never stopped to think about what I would want to do once I actually there. In high school, I excelled in the classroom in most areas, but which would I turn into a career? Like the millions across the globe applying to college, I was asked to decide the trajectory of my entire professional and academic career by checking a box on the Common Application. By the spring of my freshman year, I had endured two terms and 40 credits of the engineering sequence and realized that I hated it. Engineering wasn’t exactly how I had imagined it, and why would it have been? I loved my AP Physics and Calculus classes in high school, but beyond that, I had no exposure to the engineering profession.

Fast forward two years.

I’m now a pre-junior double majoring in finance and philosophy and minoring in Spanish with no intentions of changing that fact. How did I find concentrations that I love when I started with something completely different?

The first step was understanding that I was not stuck in my first major.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 80 percent of college students in the U.S. change their major at least once, and the average student changes it three times. Don’t feel like you’re stuck with one choice. I promise you that if you end up considering changing your major, you are in good company. I spent my first two terms stressed out because it seemed to me that everyone around me was loving their courses because they had found their calling. I wanted desperately to feel the same and hoped that I would somehow learn to love it because I thought I had already invested too much time and too many credits to leave it behind.

Take it from me, if you don’t love your major, that feeling is not going to improve over time. In fact, the opposite is true. The dissatisfaction will increase as time goes on, and those 20 or 40 credits in a major you dislike will turn into 60 or 80 and before you know it, you’ve graduated with a very expensive degree you have no desire to use.

After I accepted I didn’t want to study engineering, the next step was to figure out what I did want to study. This can be discouraging for many students still unsure of their professional interests. This is when utilizing the resources offered on campus is extremely helpful. Steinbright, the career development center on campus, offers assessments that help determine the type of work that motivates and excites you. Not only do the results align your interests with potential careers, a Steinbright advisor will walk you through the report and offer their insight and expertise to guide you in your search for a new major.

I always had a nagging desire to study law, but I never acted on it because my parents were against it. The career assessment confirmed that feeling I always doubted. After that was decided, my interest in business and desire for hard skills led me to finance and it felt like things were finally falling into place. My career advisor referred me to the pre-law advisor on campus to speak about things to keep in mind when considering applying, signed me up for the pre-law newsletter and told me about a ton of events on campus that would help me make my decision.

I was lucky I switched relatively early. I know those credits may seem like a huge loss at first, but if you find yourself in a similar situation, take comfort in the fact that your advisor will work with you to make the courses you’ve taken count for as many requirements in your new major as possible. You’d be surprised how many classes will transfer to your new plan of study.

It’s important to remember that wanting to change your major is not the end of the world. It’s normal. By doing your research and taking advantage of the resources offered on campus, you will find a concentration that fits your interests. Even though coming to college is a major change and can be scary, changing your major doesn’t have to be.