When You Grow Up: Choosing a College Major Is not Permanent

Adam Hansen, Copy Editor

In this day and age, it is almost expected to have your entire life planned out by the time you enter your senior year, or even high school in general. However, it is not as uncommon as it seems to change a major, or even your entire academic path in order to follow a different goal. Many high level colleges require a declaration of major before one is even accepted or allowed to attend. However, other colleges are much more relaxed when it comes to majors, even allowing you to make numerous changes to your major without consulting a counselor. But people who do not have any idea of what they want to do when they “grow up” tend to be seen in a negative light. Oftentimes, a student may change a major depending upon his or her experiences with the courses and especially the college itself. On top of all that, it is not uncommon for many students to be scared away from various professions such as being a doctor on the basis of how much work and school time is needed in order to achieve such a goal. 

Unlike what many people think, not everybody has his or her entire life planned out in advance. According to senior Molly Burles, “I know that I want to go into something involving special education, but I don’t know what position or such that I want to go into. I know what college I want to go to though, and that is at least a start.” Burles got her inspiration from her family, and she says, “My mom is in the LRC program, and my sister was in the peer tutoring [program].” Burles also says, “My only regret so far with high school is not taking ASB in freshman year. But that’s pretty much it.” Unfortunately, it is very common for students, especially seniors, to feel like they have to have their entire academic and collegiate life planned out before they exit high school, along with the fear of not being able to change their major once they enter college.

Fortunately, it is not as hard nor scary to change your major or academic path once you enter college. According to Serena Hansen, a current student at Washington State University,  “Having the ability to change your major is both freeing and very dangerous. For example, I changed my major from pre-med to microbiology in January of my freshman year, and the only reason I did not fall behind was because the pre-requisites were pretty much the same. If I had switched to something like communication, I would have essentially have had to completely start over.” Hansen also says, “I was really confident in what I wanted to do before I entered college, but the environment really changed me, and I ended up changing my major. My counselors were really supportive, and guided me through a lot of what needed to be done before I made the change.” It might not be the behemoth that many may have thought it was to change what they wanted to do. The fear revolving around changing majors is often misplaced or narrowed down into being afraid of putting yourself behind or afraid of the few colleges that do not allow major changes or require declaration of major before you enter. 

According to Lynn O’Shaughnessy from The College Solution, “Thirty-three of students in four-year colleges, who started college during the 2011-2012 school year, ended up changing one’s major. And roughly one in nine students, who were pursuing a bachelor’s degree, changed their major twice. Students who selected a major in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) were the most likely to jump to a different major. And among all majors, math students were the most likely to abandon their original major. Fifty-two percent ended up with a different major. Those intending on majoring in the natural sciences, which includes physics, chemistry, geology and biology, were the next most likely to bail on their major (40%).” So, not that scary, right? It is much more common than many think. 

Overall, do not forget about how much time we still have ahead of us, IHS, and do not fret about something that can be as simple as changing your major.