One of the major decisions a student goes through in their college degree is deciding what to study. From the time of applications to actual attendance at a college or university, students are pressed to figure out what they want to do for the rest of their lives. Students consider several factors before picking a major. Some students choose a field for the opportunities they hope to have while others choose it based on their interests.
For James Rives, a second-year BCHM major, it was research opportunities that had him switching from a chemistry major to a biochemistry major.
“[I] felt the change would give me a stronger knowledge in that field of research,” Rives said.
“[Switching from chemistry to biochemistry] wasn’t all that major, but I felt I needed to tweak my area of focus to something that was my true interest,” Rives said.
When students first arrive at Tech during their respective summer FASET orientations, they are grouped by their majors and immediately meet with their advisors.
Many freshmen enroll in a class based on their major called GT1000 which offers information about majors and opportunities in study abroad and research.
Picking the right major means a lot of different things: accessibility to a good career, happiness and optimizing skills.
Aly Sheppard, a second-year BCHM major, switched her major twice: biochemistry to biology and back to her original major.
Sheppard originally switched to biology because “it increased [her] chances for medical school.”
“My initial major switch was due to the assumption that since I hated my first few chemistry courses, I would dislike all of them,” Sheppard said.
Sheppard’s conclusion was that while general courses do give insight to how a subject is, she could not conclude that she would dislike all courses for that subject.
Damaris Rodriguez, now a second-year MGT major, was initially an ID major.
“[I] came to the conclusion that it wasn’t the right career path for me. I didn’t enjoy doing [ID] as ‘work,’ but it was something I’d like to keep as a hobby. Growing up, all the career tests I took told me [to pursue] Business Management, and I love international business and affairs as well as languages. The switch to management was natural and allows me to do the things I love to do that I was hesitant to do before,” Rodriguez said.
In general, Tech students are unlimited in their major choices, and while some switch within their colleges, others move from one to another.
In the case of Harika Gorti, a third-year BIO major, she spoke with advisors and other students.
She switched from BME to biology a few semesters ago because she felt that “it was more focused on the medical career path [she] wanted to pursue.”
For Gorti, the major change helped her become closer to attending medical school.
“The most common reason for a change of major is not really understanding what some majors entail before choosing them,” said Carrie Shepler, a chemistry professor and advisor in the School of Chemistry.
Many people do not know what Tech has to offer and what these opportunities mean.
“Sometimes [students’] long term goals change, and people find that there is another major that is a better fit for their new goals,” Shepler said.
A student should be open to exploring all the opportunities available here at Tech, including research, co-op, internships and study abroad. Participating in these programs can help one decide what they want to do with their education, according to Shepler.
“Many people change majors more than once before finding the right fit. I think that if you aren’t happier after a major change, then you should consider another one,” Shepler said.
Much of the difficulty lies in realizing when a student needs to change his or her major.
Joey Slater, a second-year CM major who originally began Tech as an AE major, decided to make the switch when he found that he was “uninterested by the fundamentals of [engineering].”
Instead, he found that coding was much more interesting, prompting a switch.
Many students indicated that because they pay for their individual educations, they should study something they truly enjoy.
Saroja Malladi, a fifth-year PSYC major, originally came to Tech as a BME, then switched to IE and is now finishing up her undergrad as a PSYC student.
“Follow your heart. It’s your life, no one else’s,” Malladi said.
In general, while students can approach advisors, Tech graduates, fellow peers and professors for advice about their majors, the final decision is ultimately their own. Students must select a major that matches their career goals, their skill set and, most importantly, their interests and passions.