7 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Switching Majors

Ask yourself these questions before switching majors

Flickr user Michael Coghlan

Recent studies indicate that around a third of all college students will change their major at some point during their enrollment period. While this is not entirely surprising, switching majors does come with a price. If it delays your graduation, you will have to bear the cost of the additional months of college tuition. Delaying your graduation also means you will start earning money in your desired career even later, which translates to an even bigger loss.

Before you take the plunge into a different major, it’s important to ask yourself a few questions. This can help you decide if you should change it!

Here are some things to consider before taking that plunge and changing things up.

1. Why Do You Want to Change Majors?

Before anything else, you should determine exactly why you want to change majors. Is the area of study nothing like you expected? Have you discovered that after a few years of studying, you abhor the work? Has the career field changed or dried up since you decided on this path? Have you found that a slightly different, but related major would better fit your desired goals and job? Or has something else just caught your eye that is more in line with you as a person?

Understanding the reason behind your desire for change can help you plan your next steps.

2. Is It Just a Bump Or Do You Really Want to Change Majors?

Minor aspects of our life can feel like they’re much bigger problems than they are. “Making a mountain out of a molehill” is often the go-to phrase. And this can happen with your major, too. A difficult course, like organic chemistry, can be off-putting to a lot of students and help them reach the determination that the area of study is not for them! Or anxiety can affect how we see our studies and cause us to change our majors on a convincing whim.

A difficult class can be overcome – plenty of students have done it before! You might just need to put in extra effort or work with a tutor to get over that bump. And if anxiety is affecting your college decisions, make sure to talk to a school therapist before you make any drastic changes to your schedule and plan.

3. How Will Your Change Affect Your Graduation Date?

Thinking about how many credit hours you currently have should also be a consideration, and how changing your major at this stage of the game will affect your graduation date.

You could discover that changing to a similar but different path, like business to marketing, has a lot of overlap, meaning you won’t waste as much time and money. On the other hand, you could be thinking about making a more drastic change like English to Biology.

It really all comes down to when you’re making this change. Colleges and universities tend not to require decisions regarding your major until the end of your sophomore year or the beginning of your junior year. Therefore, if you make the switch during your first year or sophomore year, you likely won’t see any big changes with your expected graduation date.

However, if you’re making the adjustment in your junior or senior year, you could require an extra semester or two to catch up. In some cases, like an English to Biology jump, it can take years. 

It really comes down to you: Do you want to push back your graduation rate and career start? If you absolutely hate the area of study, it might be best to make changes now, even if you’re a semester or two away from graduating rather than waiting until you’re in the career field and you hate it even more.

4. Will Your Change Affect Your Acceptance to the School?

Some areas of study, like engineering, require you to declare your major before you even apply – especially if the program is competitive. If you decide you want to go from Journalism to Engineering, you might just have to apply to the program individually! This type of change could cause you to have to go elsewhere for your education.

5. Does Your College Have Your New Desired Major?

And not all colleges have every major under the sun. If you want to change to Zoology, but your school only has Biology, you’ll have to make a choice. Do you want to go to a school that specifically has Zoology and transfer, or stick it out at your current college and settle for Biology?

There’s also the matter of the strength of a program. Colleges have different reputations when it comes to their program. If your school has a solid English program, but their Biology program is left wanting, it could be in your best interests to consider a different school for your new major. 

6. Is a Specific Major Necessary for the Career I Want to Pursue?

Some job requirements are quite flexible, but there are a few that have very specific requirements. You could probably get by just fine by sticking to Business rather than switching to Marketing, for example. But if you dream of becoming a marine biologist, you will have to pursue a very specific major (Marine Biology). You may need to do a bit of legwork and research to answer this question as every major and career is different!

7. Is This Something I Could Tackle in Graduate School?

If you’re thinking about changing up your area of study, you might just want to wait until graduate school to do it! Some areas of study, like Education, will take students from all types of undergraduate majors! And if you’re wanting to focus more on Marketing rather than General Business, you can do that in graduate school, too. For Biology and Zoology, you can always decide to focus more on Zoology for your master’s, too.

There is no easy answer to, “Should I change my major?” And if you do decide to change it up, there is no clear-cut path you need to follow. Every major and every student is different! If you are set on changing your area of study though, make sure to talk it over with your academic advisor to ensure all your i’s are dotted and your t’s are crossed. You don’t want to be near your graduation date and realize you missed a required class! Or you actually didn’t officially change your major!

Finding a major that fits your goals and dreams doesn’t have to be difficult. College Raptor has a whole list of various areas of study that includes valuable information on the best schools for each! Check it out here for completely free to get started.

acceptance odds, and potential financial aid for schools around the US—for FREE!