Throughout high school, I had my life centered on pursuing a career in journalism.
My senior year, I was editor-in-chief of the yearbook club, head writer for my school’s news club and a director for my church’s live stream. My ultimate goal was to be a photojournalist and my next step was to major in journalism. Once I came to Texas State, I decided to major in electronic media, which only lasted for a semester.
That first semester of college was filled with discontent and self-reflection. I had to face the reality that changing majors, and derailing a life plan four years in the making, might be the best option. While it is a big decision, it's okay for students to change majors as it can ultimately lead to a happier and fulfilled future.
After all, the U.S. Department of Education found that 30% of undergraduates changed their majors at least one time within three years. Additionally, one in 10 students changed their major more than once.
We come into college with only an idea of what it is we want to pursue and who it is we want to be. However, it's not until we're actively engaging in those ideas that we learn what we like and dislike.
Mia Agudelo, a marketing freshman, has questioned whether she should change her major to education and pursue a career as a teacher. After taking some classes, she wasn’t sure if she was interested in everything that marketing entailed. But the fear of wasting time and falling behind that comes with switching majors concerns her.
“It’s scary. I’m afraid to like get behind. What if I don't end up even liking education and you know it’s a waste of time?” Agudelo said. “What if I decide that this is what I want to do?”
The fear of wasting time is a valid one, and it’s one that can be costly in a literal sense. Changing your major could mean extending your time at college and, in turn, spending more money on tuition.
However, a more recent study by Ellucian indicates 28% of students had their graduations delayed by two or more semesters after changing their majors. Therefore, not too many people end up paying much more than one semester's worth of tuition.
Samantha Corral, a middle school education senior, had originally planned to be a high school teacher. This plan required her to take a computer science class that she ended up struggling in. Switching to middle school education allowed her to bypass this requirement. However, she feared the switch hindered her opportunity of becoming a high school teacher or even a professor.
“After talking to the advisors, they were like no you don't once you get your diploma in it, after you take your test, you can always test into high school teaching,” Corral said. “If you’re unsure about [switching majors], I’d always talk to the advisors or maybe ask a friend.”
Texas State offers academic advising for first-year students, exploratory students and by major. If you need advice on whether you should make the switch or not, this might be your first step.
Hannah Yetter, an anthropology junior, transferred to Texas State as a biology major and political science minor. Like Corral and Agudelo, she wasn’t fond of the classes she was taking for her major. She eventually learned about anthropology and how it combined her favorite aspects of her major and minor. Looking back on it, she’s glad she made the switch.
“There was a fear of feeling kind of like I failed. Like, you know, you set off to do this one thing and then to kind of change your mind kind of feels like accepting defeat,” Yetter said. “I kind of view it now as like, if I had stayed with that major I would have failed myself ... if you think you’re unhappy with what you’re doing, switch to something that brings you joy."
This idea of failure was not one that I was unfamiliar with. I had spent so long going after one academic and career goal that I was scared to admit that I wanted to give up on it. At the end of the day, I realized that I enjoyed my history minor more and took a leap of faith. After all, why waste money and time continuing down a path I didn’t enjoy? Although it delayed my graduation date by a semester, the cost was worth it.
- Hannah Thompson is a History Senior.
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