Do you want to know one of the most repeated phrases I heard my Freshman year of college? “It’s okay to change your major!”
What I wish they would have said? “Changing your major in college is easy. Graduating after changing it—that’s going to be a bit harder!”
Many of the students I’ve talked to over the past four years changed their majors multiple times. They’re not alone!
According to Prep Scholar, about 1/3rd of all college students will change their major, and 1 in 10 students will change their major multiple times. So, how normal is changing your college major
? Very normal!
How to Choose a Major in College...Again
There are half a dozen different majors every college student considers. Something practical or something fun is always included in the mix.
With a lot of choices for a college major at any given institution, there’s definitely some decision paralysis when faced with picking or changing a college major. If you need help deciding on a college major, check out this article
from Student Contributor Emma Lynch for some excellent advice!
Time: Time is Money, and You’re Paying for Every Second!
The first thing to consider when you’re going to change your major is how much more time it will add to your semesters at college. Will you still be graduating according to plan
, or will it add on another 2 or 3 years? Will this then impact your future plans?
Some majors have overlapping classes you might be able to carry over to a new major. From personal experience, you also can get certain credits to count outside of Gen Eds if you inquire!
If you are on the fence about changing your major, look into acquiring an internship
or doing a few informational interviews with others in your major. This could be helpful if you’re seeking more information outside of what you are learning about your career in your courses.
If you’re a Junior, and you’re considering switching majors after you have already taken a good chunk of major-specific classes, I heard something from one of my friends that I thought I would share.
Depending on how many credits you have left to finish, it might be worth finishing out your original major and tacking on a second major. This is helpful advice if you are passionate about your new major, but don’t want to give up the time and effort invested in your first one. It might take you a lot more time, but two degrees instead of a degree and a half
could be valuable when you leave college!
Money is the Name of the Game—and Loans Have Interest
You may or may not have had some financial plans going into college. If some of those plans were counting on scholarships, you might want to look into the terms provided with them. Some institutions award scholarships
for a certain number of semester or years while you attend their school.
Others also have different pay plans to consider for 5- or 6-year degree students. For the extra time it might take you to switch, consider how long you will have scholarships or how much you might have to work to pay for your extra schooling
If you are going to take out additional student loans
to make a major switch happen, consider how you’re going to pay them back. Would your new major make this possible?
Consider also some of the extra costs that might come with switching: more class fees, different textbooks, required subscriptions or extra costs associated with labs. You might have to pay for these out of pocket, too!
Community Colleges are Popular for a Reason, but There Might be a Catch
Did you know you can max out your credits while in community college
? Yes, it’s true! I didn’t know you could max out your credits toward a degree. In the academic world, it’s called “Satisfactory Academic Progress” or SAP.
This means that as long as a student is making progress toward a degree within a certain maximum timeframe, the student is within the SAP metrics. If you decide to switch too late and have too many credits under your belt toward another degree, you could fall into the category of those who aren’t making progress. Mark Kantrowitz lays out SAP information in further detail here.
If you are in an institution other than a community college, check into your college or trade school
’s SAP policy. Make sure to connect with your advisor if you are unsure about your SAP progress.
In conclusion, the three big factors to consider when switching your major are time, money, and SAP. If you need help with scholarships after making a major switch, Fastweb
has plenty of resources to help you!