11 November 2014

Change Your Major - Or Change Your School? How to Decide


We’re a few months into the new school year, and it’s official: You hate it. You would rather have dental surgery every day than spend one more minute on campus. The worst part? You have no idea what went wrong. On paper, everything seemed perfect.

At this point, you may be thinking about packing it in. Maybe you’ve thought about transferring to another school and starting over. But before you make a life-changing decision — and take on all of the stress and expense that goes with it — take a few moments to determine the real source of the issue.

The Problem Is Your Major

When you applied to college, you may or may not have had a clear vision of what you wanted to do with your life. Either way, you were most likely encouraged to choose a major, with the caveat that you could change it later on if you wanted.

Well, “later” has finally arrived, and you are miserable. You might be blaming your unhappiness on other factors, such as the other people on campus, your housing situation, the cafeteria food, but the fact is, if you hate what you are studying for 30-40 hours a week or more, it’s going to cloud your perception of everything else. Before you check out though, ask yourself these questions:

Why did I choose my major? If you only chose your major because you had to pick something, because you were pressured by your parents, or because you heard that you can earn a huge salary in that field, there’s a good chance that you will hate it. 

Do I like this subject? First things first: Every major is going to require coursework that you will find boring or pointless. It’s inevitable. But if you discover after a few classes that every class is dull, and that you just aren’t interested in learning more about the subject, a major change is in order. Consider this: Do you want to spend the rest of your life, or at least the next few decades, focused on that subject?

How are you performing? If your grades stink, you might be in the wrong place. Of course, poor performance could be due to lack of interest and effort, but if you are really trying and still can’t seem to catch up or grasp the information, you might be happier in another program. 

There is nothing wrong with changing your major; in fact, most college students change their program of study at least three times. If you’re truly unhappy, think about whether it’s due to your studies, and make the necessary change.

The Problem is Your School

Sometimes, the problem runs deeper than your coursework and you need to make a bigger change. Transferring to a new school is a big decision, but in some cases, it is the better one. If any of these apply to you, then a change of scenery may be in order.

You can’t study what you want. If you’ve decided that a change of major is in order, but your current school doesn’t offer what you want, you may need to transfer. Even if you have taken classes in a wide range of subjects without any clear focus, most colleges will allow you to transfer the credits you already have so you don’t have to start from scratch.

You can’t afford your school. Even if you love your school, if the bills are piling up and you are facing a mountain of debt after graduation, you might want to think about transferring somewhere more affordable. 

You’ve tried fixing issues and you’re still miserable. Sometimes, campus life just isn’t a good fit. If you’ve tried everything — and we mean everything — to be happy on campus, such as moving to a new dorm or off campus, joining different activities, and talking with your advisors and residence life staff, and it still hasn’t worked, transferring may be the right choice. There are times when you simply can’t fit a square peg into a round hole, and the sooner you acknowledge that, the better.

One of the best parts about going to college these days is that nothing is set in stone. It’s a time for exploration, experimentation, and self-discovery. So don’t avoid the hard questions when you are unhappy, and make all the changes you need to get where you want to be.

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