Four semesters ago, I was an elementary education major with no desire to become a teacher. This is not to say that I had never been interested in teaching. As a high school senior, a combination of my enjoyment of AP Psychology and my love for children compelled me to check off the “education” box as my potential major on my college applications.
A few short months into my college career, however, I began to realize that I was on the wrong path. As I further disengaged with the material that I was expected to embrace for the next four years of my life, I watched my fellow future teachers become increasingly excited by the content of our shared major.
At the same time, I was taking introductory literature and writing classes to fulfill my core curriculum. In these classes, I found my niche: English. In high school, I had never considered a major in English. College majors existed to project you directly into a career, as elementary education would have. Luckily, I have since debunked this myth.
College majors are not vehicles that deliver students to a definite career. They are maps that help to plan for the future, exposing what is still to be explored.
Still, changing majors is not an easy decision. It requires much planning, much of which needs to be done independently. If you are stuck in the in-between, here is some advice for deciding what is right for you.
Be realistic about what exactly is making you unhappy.
A bad grade is not a reason to flee your current major, nor is a bad professor or an isolated bad class. However, if you have taken a handful of major classes and feel no connection to the material, it may be time to reassess. Sit on the idea for a few months, opening yourself up to other areas.
It is okay to be undeclared.
Switching out of a major does not need to mean switching into a new one. Try taking a semester to just fulfill your core curriculum or assorted electives, and see where that takes you.
Seek guidance from both sides.
More than likely, when you speak with people from the department that you are considering leaving, they will try to convince you otherwise. While it may be helpful to be reminded why you are there in the first place, a conversation with an adviser from the major that appeals to you will give perspective on whether or not you will be happier elsewhere.
Let your parents have their say, but remember that it is ultimately your decision.
If you are considering a less traditional major, your parents may not be thrilled with the idea. Your parents are also not the ones with 200 pages of reading per week. In the long run, the money your parents are spending on your education will be more worth it if you graduate with passion for your field.
Once you have made a decision, time is of the essence.
Eight semesters of college fly by before you know it. As soon as you know in your gut that you won’t be happy sticking with your current major, branch out. The more time you waste unhappy in a major, the less time you will have to fit in a new one.