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It’s not uncommon for college students to change their majors. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 30% of students change their major within the first three years of school — about one in 10 change at least twice.
Perhaps you’ve found your original major too difficult or no longer interesting. Maybe you’ve discovered your skills are better suited for a different field. Some majors also lack lucrative opportunities after graduation.
Nearly two in five Americans regret their college major — and despite potentially adding $18,000 or more to tuition costs, many wish they could go back and change it.
Realizing early on that a college major isn’t right can prevent you from pursuing a career you won’t enjoy. However, changing a major to something better can still be overwhelming. Here are seven tips to ease into a new major.
1. Set Realistic Goals
When you begin a new specialization, you will probably feel behind in your studies. Depending on what point in your college career you change your major, you could also be watching friends graduate ahead of you.
It might be tempting to load up on credits during your first semester to catch up, but setting practical goals for yourself is essential. Realistically, you probably won’t finish your entire program in a year, even if you take summer classes.
Go at your own pace and take as many courses as you know you can handle. Once you’re comfortable with the subject, you can adjust your schedule and take on more.
2. Make Time to Study
Carving out time to study is a helpful way to ease into a new major. While you might already know much about the field, diving into the curriculum will prove just how much you have yet to learn.
Take detailed notes in class and do the reading assignments. Since students are most productive at 1:30 p.m., the afternoon may be a great time to sit down for a half hour and review the lessons.
Of course, everyone absorbs information differently. Study at various times to figure out a schedule that works for you and best fits your calendar.
3. Participate in Class
Studies show active participation leads to higher grades and greater academic achievement. Therefore, raising your hand during class discussions is conducive to easing into a new major.
At the college level, students have autonomy over their learning and are responsible for their attendance, seeking help when needed, and completing their assignments on time.
In some classes, students might need to participate to make the grade. However, being mentally and verbally engaged in course topics will enable greater concentration and understanding.
4. Learn Outside of School
You might consider your classes a touchpoint with professors and peers — a place to collaborate, review lessons, ask questions for clarification, and be presented with the following unit of study. Yet, there are also opportunities to gain insights outside of the classroom.
Depending on your new major, you might have a richer learning experience by visiting a museum or searching the library for printed materials in your subject area. English, education, law, or political science majors might hone their public speaking skills by attending and sharing work at a community poetry reading.
Others might want to attend networking events for their prospective field or take part in internships and job shadowing opportunities to gain hands-on experience and apply their newfound expertise.
5. Ask for Help
Changing your major will require extra time, money, and effort. Don’t allow yourself to fall further behind if you fail to understand something.
Reach out to your college or university’s student services department for a peer tutor or other form of assistance.
You should also send your professor an email or visit their office hours to receive extra help. Taking the initiative will ensure you stay on track toward degree completion.
6. Join a Student Group
Consider starting or joining a weekly academic student group for those enrolled in your degree program.
Student groups foster discussion of field topics with like-minded individuals and provide a chance to bond and rehash funny things that happened in class. You can also receive peer support in planning your future, acquire feedback, and find a study buddy to do homework with.
In the end, student groups are a way to unwind with others with similar interests and goals.
7. Plan Ahead
When changing your major, you might worry about taking too long to graduate, the financial impact, or not knowing what to do afterward.
Speak to your advisor about creating a degree plan for your new major, so you know precisely what courses you need to take and when you can expect to finish. Then start researching how you might approach the job search and what you can do to prepare in the meantime.
Planning ahead can relieve stress and anxiety and set you up for success.
Ease Into a New Major Successfully
Changing your discipline is equally exciting and daunting. However, you’ll have an easier time settling into your new major when you follow these suggestions.
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