Majors and Minds: Should You Change Yours?

confused1Maybe you always wanted to be a teacher. You enjoyed your time in elementary school, and you love babysitting, right? But then you got to college, took your first education course, and discovered the field is not for you. You still want to work with children, but you’ve decided to pursue social work instead.

Or maybe you came to college because of the nursing program. Your parents encouraged you to become a nurse: that way, you’d always have a job. But you’re really enjoying your psychology course: you actually look forward to doing homework. You’re thinking of becoming a counselor and switching majors – if your parents don’t explode, that is. Then there’s your friend who started off as an exercise science major, but wants to enter the nursing program.

If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. Studies suggest between 60 and 80% of undergraduates change their major at least once. Sometimes, this results in a happier, more successful student: if you love what you’re doing, you’ll be motivated to work hard and reach your goals. But a switch can also add years – and debt – to your college career.

Here are some questions to ask yourself before you change your major:

  • How much time and money would a change cost? Figure out exactly what classes you would have to take to complete a degree in your new field. On the VSC Portal, under Web Services, select Student Academic Planning and then Program Evaluation. This tool allows you see what classes you would need to take to meet that major’s requirements. Your current adviser, a professor in your new field, or any of us at Academic Support can help you figure out how much time your new program would take. Adding semesters or even years to your education isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but seeing exactly what is required can help you decide if the change is worth it to you.
  • How closely are your major and career goals aligned? Without a nursing degree, you can’t become a nurse. However, many liberal arts graduates find themselves in fields unrelated to their college major. For example, English majors work in finance and law enforcement, art history majors in human services, philosophy majors in broadcast journalism, and theatre majors in business management. Employers are often more interested in transferable skills –ability to work independently and with others, time management, writing, and verbal communication – than they are in your precise degree. If you have a career goals that doesn’t coincide with your present major, you may not have to change your academic program. However, you should definitely pursue internships and work experience in your chosen field.
  • Would a minor work just as well? Perhaps you’ve discovered a passion for art, biology, or Spanish. That’s wonderful; finding new interests is an important part of college life. You may want to change your major, add a second major, or select a minor. Think carefully before you make this decision: do you love this new discipline enough to fulfill the major requirements? Would taking several courses to complete a minor be enough to satisfy your curiosity?
  • Does the new major make you more excited about your education? If the answer is an emphatic “Yes,” then switching majors – or adding a new one – is a good idea. College, unlike high school, is not compulsory. You are not here because you have to be. You are here to study a discipline that fascinates you or prepare for an exciting career. Higher education is a privilege, and it should be enjoyable.

 Only you can answer these questions. But just make sure you weigh your options carefully – and start every new path with a whole heart.

– Dorothy A. Dahm

Spring 2016: Here’s What’s Going On at Academic Support

photo-for-student-access-and-opp-guide-march-2008From paying for college to thriving after graduation, we’ve got you covered!  

Thursday, January 28th. Resume and Cover Letter Workshop. It’s never too early to start preparing for your job search. Renée Beaupre-White, Director of Career Services, will help you market your best asset: you! Academic Support.2-3 pm.

Wednesday, February 10th. FAFSA Renewal Drop-In. Bring your questions about completing the FAFSA and applying for financial aid. Academic Support. 2-4 pm.

Thursday, February 11th. Interviewing Strategies. Don’t sweat the big interview! Renée Beaupre-White tells you how to impress. Academic Support. 2-3 pm.

Wednesday, February 24th. Scholarship Help Drop-In. Come with questions about scholarship applications and essays. Academic Support. 2-4 pm.

Thursday, February 25th. LinkedIn Profile. Learn how social media can help you boost your career. Academic Support. 2-3 pm.

Thursday, March, 10th. Job and Internship Strategies. Ready, set, go! Renée Beaupre-White helps you translate your dreams into reality. Academic Support. 2-3 pm.

Wednesday, March 23rd. Game of Life. The most fun you’ll ever have learning about saving money and planning for the future. Location TBA. 5-7 pm.

Thursday, April 7th. Resume and Cover Letter Workshop. Renée Beaupre-White will help you market your best asset: you! Academic Support. 2-3 pm.

Wednesday, April 13th. Senior Loan Event. Dinner – and straight talk about repaying your loans. Academic Support. 4 pm.

Saturday, April 30th. TRIO Community Service Day. Join students from all over the state and give back to your community. Location TBD. 9 am.

For more information, call 468-1347, visit www.castleton.edu/academicsupport, like us on Facebook (Castleton Academic Support), or follow us on Twitter (@CastletonTrio).