This article was first published Jan. 10, 2016.
So you want to change your major? After some reading online, I found that quite a few college students (over half!) decide to do this at some point in their schooling careers. It’s not surprising, and it’s definitely not something to be ashamed of: it’s hard to decide what you want to do right out of high school. There’s still so much of the world yet to see!
I very recently went through the process of changing my major, and even completely changing schools within my university, so I know the ropes, and I’m here to help you out.
Here are some steps you need to take once you decide to switch your major:
1. Be sure that this is what you want.
It may not be as easy to switch back as it was to switch out, and be aware that leaving your current course of study may make you seem less passionate about it if you try to return. Be certain this is something you truly want to do to avoid an awkward situation with your professors later.
2. Research your future major.
What will change? Will this add more semesters—or even years—to your college career? Can you handle the new course load? How will this new major affect future job opportunities? These are all things to consider when looking into switching.
So you’re 100% sure that this is what you want to do. How do you get started?
1. Plan out your future.
What classes have you taken that will transfer into your new major? What else do you suddenly need? I found it best to find my university’s Undergraduate Catalog, which lists what is required of each major. I wrote all of this down to better understand the information presented, and started to plan out my next few semesters. Remember to check for prerequisites and other conditions that might affect how you can arrange your schedule.
2. Register for classes in your new area of study.
This may include getting in touch with advisors in your old major and in the new one. Be sure you truly understand which classes you need to take before you go adding and dropping.
3. Fill out a ton of paper work.
From major-change papers to class registration to scholarship transfers, there is going to be a lot of signing and dating papers involved. At my small school, this process was streamlined and completed in just a few hours, but at bigger schools, it may take some time to get all the right people to sign in all the right places. Make sure you allow ample time for all of this to get done.
4. Double-check everything.
With a lot of paper work comes a lot of room for error. Make sure everything goes smoothly by checking your accounts and schedules online over the next few days. Remember: you are responsible if something goes wrong!
5. Prepare for your new course load.
This may include renting different textbooks, buying different supplies, or even learning new policies and rules. You want to be as prepared as you can be before the semester starts, so do your research thoroughly.
6. Notify old teachers and advisors of your change.
This is common courtesy. Either a formal email or a visit to their office is in order here. It may be embarrassing, but it will be even more awkward when they ask you why you aren’t on their roster later!
7. Finally, get excited!
You now have a completely new journey ahead of you—and who knows what it will bring? Make the most out of your new major by promising yourself to study harder, stay more organized, and have more fun.
Why did you decide to change your major? Tell your story in the comments!