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7 Factors to Consider Before Changing College Majors

changing college majors

You might be feeling the weight having to choose a college major on your shoulders. A lot of students feel like they’ll box themselves in but this isn’t the case. Actually, it is estimated that 70% of American college students change their majors at least once. 

High school seniors are usually unsure about what they want to do after college or what they are passionate about. So it can be expected that they will want to change their college major once they know themselves better. Some students may also choose to change their majors to pursue better post-college opportunities. 

Do you feel that your current major isn’t fitting your career aspirations? Read on for 7 factors you should consider before changing college majors.

1. Year Of Study

One of the major factors that should affect your decision to change college majors is the year of study you are currently in. It’s easy for first-year students to change majors because they haven’t acquired as many credits. 

Changing college majors could be a problem for third-year or fourth-year students though. This is because they may end up having to go back to the second year of their new major to get enough credits to graduate. This would mean that they could end up losing a year or two of school.

If you are in your third or fourth year it may make more sense for you to complete your current major or add a minor (or specialization) and then pursue a postgraduate course in your desired major. But if you are determined to pursue the new major you may need to delay your graduation as you may be pushed back a year or two.

2. Academic Capabilities

Your initial choice of major may have been determined by your scores in different academic subjects. Some types of majors may need you to be strong in sciences or mathematics whereas others require your strengths to be in language arts.

Before switching majors you need to establish if you have the academic ability to meet the demands of your desired major. Some people have a great desire to be doctors or engineers but they can’t pass the exams. 

To establish if you will be able to complete your desired major, try taking some free classes on the subject area to see if you find them manageable. You can also try talking to professors and they can help you assess if you will be able to complete the major.

Ultimately though, human beings are resilient and we can achieve whatever we set our minds on. So if you are determined to succeed at your chosen major you most likely will. 

3. Post College Opportunities

One of the main reasons for changing college majors is for the opportunities someone would have access to upon graduation. Certain majors like those in STEM offer very lucrative careers after graduation. 

But some students feel unfulfilled with their current majors even if they offer great careers. They may not want to spend the rest of their lives in that sector which is why they opt to pursue a major that may be more in line with their passions and convictions. 

Before switching majors it may be worth doing an internship in the industry in which you are likely to work. This will help you see the reality of that field of work. You can also attend career fairs and luncheons or speak with alumni that are currently in that field. 

4. Financial Constraints

Changing college majors can lead to some extra schooling costs for you if you have to add another year or two to your studies. Some areas of study may be more expensive than others. Before you switch majors you should consider if you will be able to afford the costs of switching.

The potential for future earnings may be worth the extra cost now but if you will dig yourself deeper into student debt without the expectation of lucrative earnings then switching majors may not be wise. If you are still intent on pursuing a new major you could look into whether you will be able to get a scholarship or financial aid. 

5. College Department Resources

Another consideration that students should have before switching college majors is what resources are offered by each faculty. Some colleges are known for offering the best facilities in the country. For instance, MIT is famous for engineering, and Harvard is known for its business school.

Switching a major to a well-respected faculty will open you up to great learning resources and future job opportunities. You will also be able to network with a wide network of alumni. But switching from a respected faculty to one with fewer resources may limit your growth and future opportunities. 

6. Flexibility of the Degree

When considering whether to change college majors you should consider what flexibility the degree will offer. Just as you are unsure about your college major, you may also end up unsure about your career path. This is why it is helpful to have a college degree that can get you into as many industries as possible.

A business degree, for example, is very flexible so switching to a business major is usually safe. Some majors may need you to go back to college for a postgraduate degree if you decide to switch careers down the road. 

7. Is Changing College Majors the Answer?

Sometimes students feel like they should change college majors because they are going through a rough patch. Maybe the subjects you are currently learning are difficult but they may get easier next year. Extra tutoring may help you understand the difficult subjects. 

You might be experiencing problems in other areas of your life which may be affecting your studies as well as your zeal for life. Sometimes taking a break from college could be the answer. You could take a gap year to travel or to work.

After the year you may end up being clearer on the direction you want to take in life. 

Key Takeaway

Most college students think about changing college majors at least once during their education. But it is important to think about whether the pain of switching majors will be worth it. Consider these factors and speak to an advisor before making the leap.

If you want to learn more about how you can thrive in college, check out the rest of our blog

About the Author

Christopher Manns

I was born in the UK, grew up in Canada and have lived in the USA since the 90s. I love my family, water sports, ice hockey, skiing and soccer. When I'm not helping people save money on textbooks, I'm travelling with my wonderful family and playing sports.