So you want to study a different field. When is it too late to change your college major?
Want to know a secret?
The truth is more than 75% of all students change their majors at least once during college. I changed my major three times! And the degree I graduated with was in the field of my dream career--it was definitely worth it.
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Most advisors suggest that you change your major after your first year. This gives you a chance to take some of the core “introduction” classes and you'll have an idea of whether or not you enjoy your chosen field.
What if you’ve stuck out that first year and it still doesn’t feel right?
Maybe it's not a matter of whether or not you like the subject matter in your courses. It’s just not a fit. Sometimes students go into majors in college because we think it will lead to the best jobs or we were following the advice of our parents.
But what should you do when do you find yourself wondering if you’re in the right program?
Let’s take a look.
Is Changing Majors Bad?
The downsides to changing your major:
- It can take longer than you planned to earn your degree
- You’ll end up paying more tuition if you stay in school longer
- If your parents support you financially they’ll probably want a say in the decision
Here's another side of the matter.
College is big-time expensive. But what’s the point in spending thousands of dollars on your education if you don’t LIKE what you’re studying? If you find no meaning in your classes, you’ll probably feel the same way about a career in the same field.
You don’t want to spend your entire life in a job that makes you feel miserable. We spend the majority of our lives at work. I’m not saying you have to be in love with your jobs to live a happy life because that’s not realistic. Some of our dreams just can’t support us financially.
But imagine waking up every single day with a feeling of dread about what lies ahead. It’s not a great way to live.
There are no right or wrong reasons to switch majors.
Students make the change because:
- They weren't interested in the coursework
- The classes were too difficult
- Their courses led them to discover a new area of interest
- They found out about potential opportunities in another field
Let’s consider the ramifications of changing your major in school and what that looks like during each year.
When Is It Too Late to Change Your College Major?
Changing Majors Freshman Year:
If you're like me, you started having second thoughts about your major immediately.
Here’s the thing. In my case, it was good that I realized my first instinct wasn't right for me. Just because I was interested in something didn't mean the potential jobs in that area were the right fit.
The only problem? I chose to declare a new major after the first quarter of school. My new major was based on another course I was taking that I happened to enjoy. I hadn’t given it enough practical thought, which led to me changing majors again later in the game.
Changing Majors Sophomore Year:
Switching majors after your first year of college is pretty common. in fact, this is when most students change their major.
Why’s that? You could have known right away that you didn't like the classes that you were taking. but still wanted to give it a full year to decide. Plus, you had time to get away from the routine of day-to-day life on campus and think about school over the summer. It's not too late yet. Even if you're halfway through your sophomore year.
Changing Majors Junior Year:
This is where it starts to get a little tricky. If it’s the beginning of your junior year and you spent the first two years focusing on gen ed requirements, it’s not too late to rethink things.
Once you're halfway through or reaching the end of your junior year, it's time to consider that it may not worth it to change your major.
Why? It makes more sense financially to attend grad school rather than extending your time in an undergraduate program.
Changing Majors Senior Year:
Changing majors in your senior year of college doesn’t make sense. You’ve stuck it out this long--keep pushing through. There’s always post-grad school if you need more education to pursue another career path.
Because the truth? Most college grads aren’t working in their field of study after school. According to the Washington Post, only 27% of college grads have a job related to their degree.
All in all, there's no specific year where it's considered too late to change your college major. However, if you want to spend less money on your education and get out of school faster, it's best not to change you're major after junior year.