Learning To Switch Majors With Confidence

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One of the first things a friend said to me during my first year of college was that, “statistically speaking,” I’d change my major seven more times before settling on one. I found it to be an interesting statement for someone I’d known for less than a minute, but otherwise dismissed the comment as just that: a random comment made purely for conversational purposes. I knew what I wanted to study—computer science. What I didn’t know is that I would end up switching majors several times and land on the polar opposite: English.

I was a computer science major in liberal arts for less than a semester when I realized that it focused a lot more on the artsy side of the major. Although I was very interested in that, I also wanted to be able to handle the animation part of it, which had a lot more to do with programming and technical work.

Then I switched to computer science in engineering, which I believed would be more geared toward my goals. For the most part, the classes were the same, only harder, and I found it difficult to see how this new major was a better fit to both the technical and artistic science.

By my second semester I knew I needed to find something else. Rolling my eyes at myself, I researched the majors available at my university more and discovered the existence of something called Digital Arts and Sciences. Not wanting to jump into a new major blindly again, I met with an adviser to discuss exactly what DAS entailed, which turned out to be animation as a whole, with programming and art. It was exactly what I needed.

I spent my second semester in programming and animation classes—what I originally wanted, but not what I expected. I had anticipated introductory, basic types of courses that would build up to the things I was already learning, and I wasn’t prepared. I felt all of the information washing over me and sweeping me farther and farther away from the allegorical shore where I’d handle all of the work in stride.

I had to reevaluate.

I realized that I let my high school impression of animation direct my decisions in college to the point that I was no longer enjoying myself. I had been enthusiastic about learning graphics and design in high school and now I was dreading the walk to class. In high school, yes, I was interested in the idea of becoming an animator and working on the Disney or Pixar films that I had always loved growing up, but I came to terms with the fact that that was no longer what I wanted.

What was harder for me to accept was how much effort I had put into this “dream” that I no longer wanted to pursue. I’d already switched through three majors, and if I didn’t want to animate, what did I want to do? Then it dawned on me—writing.

Ever since I was little, I would create stories in my head and try to translate them onto paper as well as I could and I loved it. Writing essays were never as difficult as technical homework assignments to me. In fact, I never felt like I was doing high school work when I wrote. It was a nice reprieve where I got to express myself and get school credit for it.

Once I decided that writing was more than just a hobby to me, things began to fall into place. I switched majors, yet again. I stayed in school over that summer and took three English classes, to test out the major and also to work on getting caught up.

I loved them.

The following fall semester I took higher level English classes including writing workshops, which only further confirmed in my mind that I had made the right decision. I was enjoying myself immensely. I began to get the feeling that my coursework wasn’t just work anymore, but something I looked forward to and was passionate about improving and learning in the field. I took fiction writing classes that reminded me of all of the stories I’d written when I was little and the same kind of imagination and creativity started to come back to me. This is what I loved to do.

I am currently much happier and much more enthusiastic about the work I am doing, and I feel more at home in my major than I ever did in any of the other three. I used to silently scold myself for not realizing that English was the right move for me earlier, but I have recognized that I wouldn’t have been able to figure it out without going through all of those major switches.

Even though I’ve had to work to focus myself on what I really wanted and catch up for the first year I spent working toward animation, I’m doing well. I’m content with the way things played out. My initial mentality toward my career was far from perfect, but I found that trusting my own instincts and working toward the things I valued really helped me to find the right path for me.

Marcie is a sophomore English major at the University of Florida. She loves traveling, writing, and dancing, as well as her orange cat, Milo.

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