Deciding on a college major is one of the biggest choices you will make—after all, it will set you on the path toward a career you'll stick to for the rest of your life, right? Not necessarily! Not only do students often switch majors in college, post-grads end up changing career paths as well. Hence, there may not be as much pressure on this decision as you once thought.
However, it is still a choice that should not be made lightly. What if you are at the point where you are considering switching majors? Before you take the plunge, it is crucial to honestly consider these five important questions.
1. Why exactly do I want to switch majors?
College coursework can be tough, influence from your peers can be strong, and the desire to take the easy road may be alive and well. However, if any of these reasons alone are why you have decided to switch majors, you may want to step back and do some thinking about the underlying reason you are truly considering this. Switching majors is a significant change for a student, so you’ll want to make sure you are doing it for reasons that are right for you and only you. No one can answer this question for you, but it is important to be logical in this big move you are about to make.
2. Can I afford to switch majors?
This question is two-fold. For one, from a monetary standpoint, switching majors can ring up a rather large bill. Think about it: if you are making a complete change and switching departments or subjects entirely, what is going to happen to all of those credits that you already spent so much time earning? Do any of them carry over to your new major? Will you still be able to graduate on time, or will you have to pay for another semester or two?
If any of these potential circumstances are ones you cannot handle at the moment, you may need to reflect on whether or not the major switch is really worth your time and efforts (and there’s a possibility it can be—you just have to weigh all the factors). Keep in mind also that you could always go back to school for a second degree down the road.
3. How will this switch benefit me?
A college degree is extremely important and can open the doors to many exciting opportunities in the future. However, one question to consider is how much this major change could uniquely benefit your future in ways your current major might not. Some careers require a very specific degree, such as engineering, for instance. However, other careers, such as being a writer, could require an English degree, a journalism degree, or even a communications degree. When making your major switch, think about the career you desire and decide if the change in majors will support this.
4. Could I add a minor instead?
Rather than completely changing majors, think about if it would be beneficial to just add a minor in that field of study instead. Minors offer the opportunity to become educated in a certain area, but are easier and faster to obtain—not to mention they also typically require fewer credits for completion. This will save you time and money, which are both valuable. However, some students may find that minors are simply not enough for what they want out of that subject; they may long for the in-depth education a major would provide. Think about your situation to answer this question.
[RELATED: Should I Double Major in College?]
5. How do I switch majors?
If you decide that a major switch will indeed be beneficial for you, the next step is to take the plunge and make it happen. Changing majors often requires paperwork, so speak with your academic advisor or school counselor to learn the details of the process. You may wish to speak with the financial aid department at your school as well, as some scholarships are dependent on the programs or major you are pursuing. Acting on the decision as soon as possible is ideal so you can get on your new path as efficiently as possible.
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