When it comes to higher education, there are two critical decisions to be made.
First, but not necessarily foremost, there is the choice of a specific school. A couple of weeks ago we took a look at the warning signs that you may have chosen the wrong school.
Just as important as to the decision of where to attend college there is the choice of major. In fact, in a good many cases, the choice as to area of study ripples into the selection of a school leading some to actually choose their school based a desired major.
Yetstories abound of students changing their majors twice, three times and more. These are not tales – data indicates that approximately 70% of college students will change their college major at least once.
Perhaps you are someone who has begun considering such a change.
But you have heard that each time you change your major you may well move from a 4- to a 4.5- or even 5-year plan. That also is a statement based in fact. But your choice of major is something you really need to get right.
Here are five warning signs that you may have made the wrong choice initially.
There is a saying:
A job is the place where I have to go to work to earn money. A career, however, offers the chance to follow my chosen pursuits and even get paid to do so.
When the day comes, on Monday mornings you will want to be feeling positive about the work-week ahead. While in school, the same situation applies: you should be looking forward to the classes that relate to your major field of study.
If instead you are finding your core major courses a pain, that they are flat out boring or uninteresting, then you have made a poor choice. If you are finding that you have little interest in the courses you are taking, there is little chance you will be excited about working in a profession related to that major.
Most college students struggle with certain courses. After all, some classes are more difficult than others.
But most students earn their highest grades in the courses related to their choice of major.
One sign you have made the wrong choice of major is that you are struggling to handle the demands of the core courses that set the foundation for your field of study. The basic question is simple: Are your grades for the core courses in your major lower than your grades in your other required classes?
If so, then you have made the wrong choice. A final transcript with poor grades in your major field of study is a red flag for employers – they will assume you are not likely to be able to bring the necessary skills to the job.
Not at All What You Thought
Now that you are in school and working on your field of study, you have a full sense as to what your major encompasses. Has that clarity reinforced or strengthened your original decision?
If you are having second thoughts, it could be that you chose your major for the wrong reasons. You may have been enticed by a hot career field or the earning potential of another option. Worse yet, you might have matched the popular choice of high school peers.
Now that you are actually involved in the coursework, is your major and area of study all you thought it would be? Is this a field that you can see yourself working in 40-hours a week, 52-weeks a year.
If not, you may have chosen the wrong major.
Did you take an elective that brought you enormous excitement, a course where the work actually seemed enjoyable. A course where class time zipped by on a daily basis? A course that you truly hated to see come to an end?
Ultimately, the key question to ask is whether you were most content when studying the coursework in your major or did you find another area of study more appealing?
It is important that students differentiate between the course of study and the professor. It is the subject matter that we are talking about here, not how the material is presented or the ability of the professor to turn otherwise stale material into something palatable.
The bottom line is your major should be something you are excited about studying.
If your sentiment matches any of the four mentioned above you would do well to review your choice. But before making the decision to change your major, be sure to think things through.
First, take advantage of the services available to you on campus. Set up some time to discuss the idea further with the appropriate on-campus staff.
Begin by finding some time to connect with academic department personnel related to your initial choice as to a course of study. Then, take the time to meet with academic department personnel representing your potential new area of study.
Second, after those two discussions, take the time to seek out a counselor in the career center. Talking with a person that is independent of the two areas of study and processing your concerns with that professional can be a real help.
Most importantly, if you are not happy with your choice of major but have not yet been drawn to another field, these counselors can help provide some career assessment options. Perhaps through them you can begin pursuing some new and more interesting courses.
They can also help you walk through the ramifications of making a change. That may include any added expenses as well as whether or not the change will require the postponement of your original graduation date.