5 Tips to Changing Your Major in College

5 Tips to Changing Your Major in College

Like many choices you make at the beginning of college, your major is something you might change your mind about. You’re in good company: Tons of students end up switching majors (even more than once!) at some point during their college careers. That doesn’t mean the decision’s any less daunting, of course. To help, we’ve put together a checklist of everything you should consider before you take the leap.

5 Tips to Changing Your Major in College
5 Tips to Changing Your Major in College

How sure is sure?

If you’re unhappy with your major, take some time to think critically about the specific things that are bumming you out. If the workload is more than you expected, study strategies and some good ol’ time management might solve your problem. But if you can’t stand the material itself, you could have a bigger issue on your hands. If you already have a change in mind, ask yourself if you’re drawn to the new major because you’re way m

Major requirements include both lower-division and upper-division courses. The requirements are determined by departments and programs, and will include at least 12 upper-division courses (48 units).
You must declare a major before you complete 90 units. Warning: If you don’t declare a major by the time you complete 90 units, you won’t be allowed to enroll in additional classes.

Read major descriptions in the General Catalog.
Talk with your college advisor.
Explore majors by speaking with department advisors.
Discuss career options with a Career Services counselor.
Read the Academic Senate policy on Majors (section A).

So, you decided you definitely want to change your major. Woohoo! The first step is to try to choose a new major, if you haven’t already. If you’re not entirely sure which major to pick, it’s time to get back to basics—things like working backwards from careers that interest you, thinking about your favorite activities, acknowledging your skills, talking to friends and professors in different departments, and even auditing a class or joining a related campus club to get a sense of what the program entails. You can also use your college’s career counseling center and career assessment tests to help you choose. Still need help? You’ll find a guide to choosing a major here.

Step 2
Now it’s time to consult your academic advisor. They are your biggest ally in figuring out everything you need to do and all the requirements you need to meet to switch majors. They’re also used to this process, so they can answer your questions and guide you through it. It would be great to consult an advisor from your intended major, but if you’re still not sure about what your new major will be, then you can just visit your current academic advisor.

Step 3
Next you need to make sure you meet the requirements for admission to your new major department, college, or school within the university. At many colleges, you’ll need to meet the same admission requirements as outside students who are seeking acceptance into the school. That means it’s possible that you may not be admitted to your new major—even though you’re already a student at the college—if your academic stats aren’t up to snuff. If that’s the case, you can discuss your options (like taking another semester or year to bring up your grades or earn pre-reqs) with your academic advisor.

Step 4
The final step is to submit the paperwork requesting a major change. The process to change your major will differ from college to college, but your application will probably need to be approved by the department chair and college dean of your new major. Again, your academic advisor will let you know how this process goes. (See? Told you they were your biggest ally!)

When should you change your major?
Basically, the sooner you can make the decision to change your major, the better. Your first two years of college will probably be all or mostly general education requirements, and they’re more likely to work for multiple major requirements, which is good. But the longer you wait/later you decide to change your major, the harder it can be, because you’ll be taking more specialized classes that may not apply to your new major. You may lose credits you’ve already earned if they’re not applicable to the major you’re changing into. And if you need to take additional required classes to fulfill your new major requirements, they could eat into your electives or, worse, you may have to pay for summer classes or more semesters of tuition. We’re talking time and money, people. To avoid this issue, recommends changing your major before you hit 60 college credits. If you have passed 60 credits, instead of changing your major, you may want to consider just adding a minor to your current major.

Regardless of why you choose to change your major, make sure you research it thoroughly and take your time. Weigh the pros and cons of the situation to decide if this is something you really want to do and if this is right for you.

One last important thing!
Never forget that your college major isn’t a career contract. You can go on to do lots of things with lots of majors. Even super specific majors like nursing or engineering won’t nail you down to those jobs forever. Your experience, skills, and interests end up being way more important in your future job search and career than your major. So don’t sweat it.

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