Things were different when you first started college. You carefully picked a major that would lead you to the career you’ve always dreamed of—or maybe you picked a more neutral major to give yourself time to explore. But that was then, and this is now. You’ve learned a lot, gained new experiences, and are no longer so sure you want to stick with that original choice.
It’s easy to get locked into the idea that the major you first chose is what you have to stick with forever, but that’s definitely not the case! Changing majors is actually not as big a deal as you think. Here are four common reasons students change majors.
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Your passion has waned or changed
Think back to when you were a kid—what did you want to be when you grew up? If that job is still your goal, then you’re in the minority; most people change their minds several times as they learn and grow. That doesn’t stop just because you’ve started college. In fact, all those required courses and elective requirements might be the very thing that makes you realize that your planned career path isn’t your passion anymore.
This might show up in a couple of different ways. It might start with you just not enjoying the field you used to love, feeling like your interest has faded. Or perhaps you took an elective course and discovered a new interest. The key is making sure that it’s not just one bad (or great) class that’s caused this shift in perspective. Take some time to be honest with yourself or even visit a career advisor to make sure this decision isn’t made impulsively.
The career prospects in your field don’t interest you
If the realities of professional life in your field of study don’t appeal to you, that’s a perfectly fine reason to step away! Lots of people have hobbies or interests that they love but would never want to do for a living, and that might be what your first major turns into. If you do change your major for this reason, make sure that whatever you switch to has career options that you can see yourself taking.
You realized your awesome skill set is a better match elsewhere
The idea of a job and the realities of it are sometimes very different things. Maybe you got into your major because you love the theoretical side of it, but in the course of your studies, you’ve realized that the field requires a ton of heavy-duty statistical analysis, which really isn’t up your alley. Don’t feel bad—that’s what college is for! It gives you a glimpse of a field before you commit to it 100 percent.
If you love the field you’re in and it’s just one or two skills that are holding you back, you might want to weigh your options and see if those skills are really deal-breakers or not for you. If it’s the meat and bones of the job that turns out to be a mismatch, though, there’s nothing wrong with finding something that suits you better. It’s not a failure to understand your own strengths and try to tailor your professional life to them—and it’s much better to do it now than ten years into a career!
The financial prospects concern you
We don’t like to talk about it, but it’s a fact: at some point, you’re going to have to be concerned about your pay. Part of college is learning what real life in your field will look like down the line and what kind of professional life you can expect. This doesn’t mean you should change your major to the highest-paying job you can find, but rather that you might want to decide how much you’re okay with getting paid and if the job is worth the typical salary range. Alternatively, you may want to explore specific niches in your major: it’s okay to gravitate towards a specialty that pays well—that doesn’t make you greedy! The Occupational Outlook Handbook is good place to start looking at median pay rates.
Some things to keep in mind: if you’re just changing your major to make more money in the future, that’s not a great idea—the economy is always changing, and you don’t want to be burnt-out in a job you don’t like and find out that it’s not even paying what you hoped. Be realistic, ask current professionals how they do it, and learn how to balance your finances with your passion.
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