Rosella Eleanor LaFevre > Sophomore > Temple University, Photo by Catherine Finsness > Sophomore > The George Washington University
Choosing a major at the age of 18 or 19 can seem like an impossible decision to make, which is why many college students go in undeclared. But even those of us who decide from the outset that we’re going to major in biology or English or something else tend to change our minds.
Fifty percent of college students who declare a major change that major, and many do so two or three times, MyMajors.com Founder Dr. Fritz Grupe told Gayle B. Ronan of MSNBC. While your happiness is most important, it can be costly changing your major once or twice. It can also mean spending more time on your college campus.
In the interest of saving you money and time, here are some steps to take so you can settle on the perfect major as quickly as possible.
1. Test the Waters
If you’re undeclared, go to step two. If you’ve declared a major, take courses in your subject area or prerequisite courses in your first semester or two. Julia Held, a first-semester sophomore at Temple University, declared biology as her major when she enrolled. She signed up for a chemistry prerequisite, “realized how much I disliked chemistry, which is a HUGE prerequisite to biology, pretty much when I stopped going to class, and had no desire to take any further classes in that field,” she said. If you like these classes, you’ve probably locked in the right major for you.
2. Diversify Your Options
If you’ve figured out that you’re not as in love with the courses for your major as you would hope to be, try taking courses in a variety of fields. Held is taking a variety of classes and is figuring out that she really loves sociology. She says that taking her introduction to sociology class is the most excited she’s been about school in a while and is considering majoring in it.
3. Seek Guidance
While you should talk to your advisor when you feel unhappy with your major, it might also help to seek out the guidance of a professor in the field you’re considering switching to. Most universities have websites listing faculty in each of its departments and majors. Professors are passionate enough about their fields that they would be happy to talk with you about courses and career opportunities. Professors who see you doing well in their classes might reach out to you to talk about your options, including double majors and minors.
4. Wait Out the Honeymoon
If you’ve declared a major you find disappointing and taking classes in another subject has you considering your options, wait a little before switching majors. Most lower-level classes are not reserved for students who have declared, say, an English major, so take a few with different professors before you switch. One great experience in a creative writing class may not mean you’re ready to dissect Shakespeare in a literature survey classes. Taking your time to decide and talking to others who are majoring in the subject you’re falling for are good ways to ensure you won’t want to change your major again next semester. Even taking a few classes in one department before declaring a minor is a smart idea.