It’s 10:35 a.m. and you’re sitting in a crowded lecture hall on campus. It’s a class you need for your major, and from the looks of things it’s the same for everyone else. Around you is the sound of fervent typing on laptop keyboards and notebook pages being shuffled. The professor is gesturing towards the audience, as other students enthusiastically raise their hand to contribute to class discussion. But as you force down your lukewarm coffee, you realize you have little to no interest in joining in. Your eyes struggle to focus on the PowerPoint notes projected on the screen. “Why,” you ask yourself, “is it so hard for me to get excited about this?”
Then it hits you.
“I think I hate my major!”
Choosing the wrong major can feel like a major catastrophe (no pun intended). You may be worrying about lost time, tuition money that feels squandered, or that it’s too late to do anything about it. However, being uncertain or unhappy with your major is an incredibly common occurrence and one that’s much easier to fix than you may think. Between changing your major, adding minors, or starting fresh years after graduation, there are plenty of solutions for anyone who’s picked the wrong college major. Let’s look at some facts about changing majors—or changing careers without going back to college.
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Signs You Picked the Wrong Major
Having doubts about your chosen major isn’t always so obvious and clear cut. You may just have a sinking feeling of disinterest, or a passion for a completely unrelated area of study. Whatever the reason for the sense of uncertainty, it’s important to listen to your instincts and avoid continuing down a bad path.
Here are some of the most common signs you’ve picked the wrong major:
You feel bored in class.
Do you find yourself spacing out a lot? Anxiously watching the clock for the class to end? Filling notebooks with doodles and three-dimensional cubes? While some classes and professors are less interesting than others, you shouldn’t be feeling disillusioned or bored of your major.
You’re feeling overly stressed.
Sadly, we seem to accept that college is simply a stressful time of all-night cram sessions and writing papers under duress. The fact is, though, that this kind of constant anxiety should not be considered normal. If you’re feeling constantly overwhelmed or ill prepared for the work surrounding your major, listen to your body and mind and get out.
You can’t articulate why you chose it.
Try talking to a friend or advisor about why you chose the field in the first place. You may find that you only chose to pursue the major because you were pressured by your parents, the promise of high pay, or just general misconceptions about what it entailed. Regardless, if you can’t muster up a compelling explanation for your decision, it may be the wrong path.
You hated your internship.
For those who have gotten further along in school, an internship is a great chance to get a feel for your future. While the tasks of an internship can sometimes be a little dull (coffee run, anyone?) this may be your last chance before graduation to jump ship. Take time to evaluate how you’re feeling and speak to others at the company if you have concerns.
When Is it Too Late to Change Majors?
If you’re thinking of switching majors, your first and best resource is your academic advisor. These are the people who have not only the know-how, but the passion for guiding students just like you toward a better academic path. When you meet with them, you’ll need to review things like:
- Completed and remaining academic requirements
- Current GPA
- Track record for graduation
- Possible areas of interest for a new major
In general, the best time to switch majors is during your first two years of college. These are usually the semesters spent focusing on your general required classes and more basic-level major studies. However, if you’ve already collected 60 or more credits in your major, it may be inadvisable to start over from scratch. Your advisor can help you to figure out if the current credits might transfer to another, related major. If not, and it’s a bit late in the game to fully switch, you might consider adding a minor or trying something completely new.
How Do I Decide What to Major In?
While feeling lost in college is such a ubiquitous experience, it doesn’t make it any less scary. College tuition is already more expensive than ever, and there’s never a shortage of pressure from parents and professors to graduate on time. So, while you may be certain your major is wrong, it may not seem feasible to change course without a plan in mind.
Deciding what to study in college is a very personal decision. You’ll want to find something that consistently piques your interest, as well as feels like something you could imagine doing in the future. If you’re coming up empty, though, here are some good ideas to get started on brainstorming a new major:
- Try some self-evaluation quizzes
- Talk to friends and peers about their majors
- Jot down some dream jobs and see which degrees and majors they require
- Attend a career fair
- Consider your hobbies and personal interests
What If I’ve Already Graduated with a Major I Don’t Like?
Whether you’ve decided to tough it out and finish your major, or you’re well into your career and still regretting your college decisions, it’s not too late to find a new path. If you have interest in a tangential field, you might be able to try grad school, or pursuing a specialized degree like an MBA. There’s also online classes or college community options if you have a short-term goal in mind.
However, if you’re serious about a total 180-degree change from your major into a high-paying, stable and rewarding career in tech, one of the best options is with a coding bootcamp. Thanks to immersive learning techniques, these are accelerated courses that can get you not only trained, but ready for a dynamic career in a variety of tech fields. At Eleven Fifty, we take students all the way from beginner status to entry-level professional-grade graduates, all in just 3-6 months. We also pair you with our career services team to help place you land the right job that fits your passions.