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Think You Picked The Wrong Major? Here's What You Can Do

Picking the wrong major isn't the end of the world. Don't worry too much. There's time to fix it. Here's what you can do.

Sep 6, 2023
  • Education
  • Student Tips
Think You Picked The Wrong Major? Here's What You Can Do

You are well into your undergraduate years, or maybe you've just started. Worried you chose the wrong major? Fret not. There is plenty you can do to change it. Depending on how far you are in school, you might not be able to switch majors, but you may be able to turn your situation into something desirable. Remember: nothing is perfect.

Let's take a closer look at some tips and ideas to get you back on track.

1. Recognize the signs

Your major should be one that interests you, challenges you, and one where you find enjoyment. This doesn't mean it's all rainbows and unicorns. You have to work hard, too. But when you struggle with grades and motivation, you should question your choice in major.

While bad grades don't necessarily equate with the wrong major, they are a symptom of a problem. That problem could be that you are studying the wrong thing. Either you are not interested -- or you don't get it. While it is great to challenge yourself, you need a major where you can feel successful. If you earn consistently not-so-great grades, reconsider your major.

Another tell-tale symptom of a problem? You lack motivation. You are bored. Again, that's a symptom of a variety of problems -- one of them potentially your major. If you lack passion, cannot quite explain why you chose what you did, or generally feel bored, rethink your choice.

While you may not love every course you take with every professor, you should enjoy the basic notion of what you are studying. You should also be able to explain why you chose your major, what motivates you, and what you hope to do in the future.

2. Don't wait too long

Yes, earlier is better, but if it's late in the game, you may be able to salvage some of your college career.

First, consider your costs and debt. Can you afford to pay for another year if you need it? How many student loans have you taken out?

While switching majors can be affordable, waiting too long will likely cost you some money, especially if you need to take pre-requisites and a new set of classes.

The sooner you know and the earlier you decide to make the switch, the easier it is to mitigate credit loss and to get you where you want to be quicker.

3. Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses

Know where you excel and where you need extra help and maximize your strengths. Don't set yourself up for failure by taking on a major that preys on your weaknesses. Challenge is good. Setting yourself for a bad situation is not.

Changing your major late in the game could result in loss of credits, or it may mean that you need to take some classes for which you don't have pre-requisites. Sometimes this means taking an extra semester -- or even several.

Figure out your strengths, what you would like to do with them, and shape your major around what you enjoy doing and learning. See #4.

4. Choose a new major and meet with your advisor

Once you decide to make the switch, meet with your advisor to determine the best path forward and get help picking a new major. You need to go talk to him or her for some help. Get a sense of what you want to study and why. Discuss the kind of career you might want and the kinds of majors that could help you get there.

Once you decide, your advisor will help you figure out your credit situation, which courses you need to take, and how you can mitigate credit loss. Keep in mind that you may need to switch advisors, especially if you switch departments or even schools within a university.

5. Avoid losing credit

How can you avoid losing credit?

First, timing is everything (see #2). If you are within the first 60 credits of your coursework, you have a better chance of keeping all of them. If you are already taking upper-level courses, though, you may lose some credit in the process.

The best person to help you navigate the credit quagmire is your advisor.

Learn more about undergraduate studies.