The semester may still be in its early stages, but undoubtedly, there are already some of you beginning to deal with the feeling that you may not like your major as much as you thought you did. The questions begin to appear, “Is this it? For the rest of my life? Is this really what I want?” You might be realizing that the career you’ve dreamed of since childhood isn’t what you expected.
Or you could be one of the lucky ones who are still in love with your major. If you fit in with this latter category, then I’m not talking to you.
Having changed my major this summer, the emotions and issues that come along with a change of major are still fresh in my memory. If you were anything like me, you decided what you wanted to be “when you grew up” around elementary or middle school. That 10- or 12-year-old’s decision was the accepted plan through middle school, high school and then on into college.
Needless to say, the parents were surprised when I announced that I was switching from my “lifelong dream” to a new field they had never heard me mention.
Sources like NBC tell us that more than half of all college students change their major at least once, some as many as two or three times, during their college career, but none of us actually imagine we will actually be the ones whose majors will change.
Students often fall into the trap of thinking that once they have chosen a major, before they even stepped into the classroom, that they have signed their life away and the choice they make can never be undone.
Changing your major is one of the easiest projects you will ever undertake. Two signatures and you’re done. Personally, the most difficult part was having to walk from my former school to the new one in sweltering July heat. The irony in the change of major process is blatant.
Why do they make such an important decision so simple to do? Because schools, Tech included, know how much emotional stress you have put yourself through to get to that final step. So why should they even begin to bother with going to the trouble of making up a complicated process when they know that 99 percent of the struggle is internal?
High achieving campuses, like Tech’s, are often areas with a heightened pressure to have a career plan, and any change or detour in that plan is often viewed as a sign of failure or weakness. The fear of being considered unsuccessful by family or peers may prevent a student from changing their designated major. We often forget that we are the ones who will have to do the work to earn our degrees, enduring every all-nighter and every hellish exam. And once we get that coveted degree, we are the ones who will have to go to work every day and do our job. There are basically two times in your life you are allowed to be completely selfish: choosing whom you marry and what you will major in. Because, in the end, you’re the one who has to deal with the results.
Inevitably, issues like credit hours, financial aid and graduation dates have to be considered. On Tech’s campus, meeting a fifth- or sixth-year senior isn’t uncommon, and the trend is becoming increasingly common on campuses across the country. At universities like Tech, where we affectionately refer to graduating as “getting out,” a prolonged time spent in school is usually not ideal.
Furthermore, scholarships like HOPE, in its overwhelming generosity, cut off their funds after a student reaches a certain number of credit hours. These real-life issues serve as a reminder that while we should find the major and industry that makes us happy, we should also have a certain amount of strategy as we figure it out.
These issues may have already begun to churn in your mind as you sit in one of those mind-numbing classes, or struggle through your dream internship that, after the first week, you realized couldn’t be more wrong for you. It’s a conflict that you have to come to terms with personally. For some, it may take admitting that you actually don’t have it all together. Here’s a secret: nobody does. For others it may be accepting that you are not quitting or giving up; you’re simply changing your mind, and that changing your mind is allowed.
Give yourself room to discover something new about yourself and everything you could do. The rest of your life is too long to have a job doing something you hate. If you need to make a change, weigh your options and go for it.