So You Want a Divorce…From Your Major

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Rima Kikani > Junior > English > UMBC
 
Three semesters and twelve classes later, you’ve realized that you and your major are not meant for each other. Whether it’s because you claim irrevocable differences with biology or had an affair with business management, you have concluded that you hate your major. It happens to a ton of college students…so what do you do?

 
Freshman Year: After getting to know Freud, you’ve decided that you do not want to be with psychology for better or for worse. Since this is only your first year and most freshmen have not gotten too far along in their majors, it’s easy to change it. “I used to be a public health major, but it seemed all I was learning was to tell people to wash their hands,” says Tulane University junior Stephanie Mock. “I then got a change of major form, got the department heads’ signatures, and then it was complete.”

Sophomore Year: Students often do not change their minds until they have taken more courses in their major and recognize it’s not for them. “I used to be an environmental science major until I took a geology course and realized I didn’t like looking at rocks all say,” Elizabeth Stone* explains, who is now an environmental studies and international development major. At this stage, you can change your track and still complete the new major in the next couple of years. At many schools, doubling up on your core courses for a few semesters can put you right back on track with the rest of your peers. Classes that were once considered “major” classes to complete your degree can easily transfer over as elective courses.

 
Junior Year: If you do not have much time left in your four years of undergrad and you realize that your major isn’t for you, University of Iowa academic advisor, Jenni Stacy-Adams says it’s not too late to “pursue other interests.” She recommends double majoring. There are certain majors that only require about 30 credits, and a double major makes a student stand apart from his or her peers.
 
Senior Year: If graduation is coming up but you truly regret that history major, you can still add or switch majors and graduate a little later. Sara Burden, a career advisor at the University of Iowa, says, “If this student is willing to put fourth an extra semester or an extra year or two to pursue what they really are inspired to do, then we would advise them [to go for it].” Students can even try summer classes to catch up.

After Graduation: If you’ve waltzed across that stage and you cannot believe that you actually spent thousands of dollars on a degree in Russian language, you can still use the skills you learned to find a career you enjoy. Often, employers are more interested in the experience and skills you possess as opposed to the actual major. So no, you don’t have to teach high school Russian or move to St. Petersburg to put your degree to use. Instead, try to get some experience in a field you might be interested in (even if it means a summer internship after college) to try to figure out what it is that you want to do. With that experience, your skills from your major could just be an added bonus to what you’ve learned in the field.

 
Talk with career counselors or academic advisors to explore your options. They are trained to steer you through the confusion and stress that oozes at this point in your life. Consider your interests and priorities, and if you are truly unhappy, don’t be afraid to divorce your major.

College Magazine Staff

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