When starting college, it can be overwhelming to pick a major because there are so many to choose from. It’s actually typical for students to start as an open or undecided major because there are so many options and they aren’t sure what is best for them and their future career. But for the most part, all college students declare their undergraduate major by the end of their sophomore year. But what happens when they decide that the major they chose isn’t right for them? How should you handle this if you find yourself thinking about switching majors?
There are pros and cons to this change and even though it may feel overwhelming to lay out all the facts, it’s important you know what you’re in for if you switch majors. Check out our top pros and cons to consider so you can make an informed decision.
Pros of Switching Majors
1. It’s More Aligned with What You Want
Some students may head into college knowing exactly what to major in and what career they want from their education. Others are leaning towards one direction but aren’t quite sure. Yet, no matter which category you fall into, after you take the courses or take part in a job shadowing program, you may find that the major or career is nothing as you thought. This may give you pause and make you wonder if the major is really for you. Electives also give students the chance to explore a subject they’re interested in and can sometimes cause a change of heart when it comes to their declared major.
If this is the case, it is sometimes in your best interest to change your major as soon as possible. You may find halfway through college that your career goals changed, and therefore your major should change with it. You shouldn’t stick with a major or career goal that you are absolutely unhappy with. Changing majors as early as possible is the goal, but not the worst if you do it later.
I changed my major right after my junior year of college. I felt burnt out as a biomedical science major and knew that I didn’t want to go to graduate school any more. Changing my major that late in my college career was so nerve-wracking I canceled my advisor appointment twice to avoid doing it. I eventually switched it to something that was more aligned with what I wanted to do after graduation and I’m so happy I did!
-Marissa Trent (The University of South Florida)
2. You Have Time to Catch Up
The earlier you decide to switch college majors, the easier it is to catch up on your coursework. Some students don’t even begin to take major-related courses until their junior year, so if you know you want to change your declared major during your sophomore year, you have plenty of time to make that decision.
If you are choosing a new major that is similar to your old one, it’s also possible that some of your completed courses may actually be prerequisites or electives for your new degree.
3. Switching Majors Allows for Exploration
Taking introductory classes for a different major will allow you to learn about other areas of study, and can open your eyes to new passions. You’ll gain a wider perspective on the world around you because you’ve taken classes through more than one department. Many students even change their major more than once, so while you’re exploring you may end up liking something you never thought you would.
Con of Switching Majors
1. You May Not Graduate on Time
If you discover you want to change your major in your sophomore or junior year, you might end up having to take an extra semester or two to graduate. To increase your odds of graduating in four years, you may want to consider taking summer courses or extra classes during spring or fall semesters. However, a later graduation date isn’t the end of the world—many students fall behind on their original graduation plans. In fact, only 41% of students graduate with a bachelor’s degree in 4 years so don’t be too discouraged if you have to stay in school longer for the right major.
2. It May Cost More in Tuition to Switch
On top of making you take more time to graduate, switching your major may also cost you more in tuition. You will have to pay for the extra semesters, courses, and possibly some summer classes. It may also be a bigger financial burden if you had college scholarships that only lasted for four years or were specific to your original major.
3. Switching Majors May Not Be What You Truly Wanted
After your first semester with your new course load, you may find that switching your major isn’t what you wanted. After everything you did to change your major and prepare for your new path, it can be discouraging to know that you’re still unhappy with your choice of major.
Final Considerations of Switching Majors
If you’re considering switching majors, it’s important to consider all aspects surrounding the change. It’s a big decision and not one that is taken lightly. Throughout your process of changing your major, look to your Academic Advisor for guidance. They will be able to help you understand the requirements, and how credits will or will not transfer between departments. They will even help you talk through why you are unsatisfied with your current major. You can also talk to a Career Advisor on your campus, and they might be able to point out resources available to students looking to change their chosen major and talk about career options.
While changing your majors can seem scary or daunting, take a deep breath. Yes, there are pros and cons to making this change, but there are also a lot of people and resources to help you. Check out the information we have about majors. Use College Raptor to discover personalized college matches, cost estimates, acceptance odds, and potential financial aid for schools around the US—for FREE!