20 Signs It’s Time to Change Your Major

Tyson Schritter / Colleges of Distinction »

If you think about it, it’s kind of odd that many of us go through high school expecting that we should know what we want to do for the rest of our lives by the time we’re 18 and off to college. And while it is perfectly normal to enroll in college with an undecided major, plenty of students feel pressured to commit to a field of study early on. Similarly, even more might find midway through college that their field of study just isn’t interesting anymore. Are you feeling uncertain about your major? Here are 20 signs that it might be time to switch.

1. Everybody else was doing it.

Lots of people settle for majors that they aren’t necessarily passionate about simply because it seemed like a popular option. This happens most often in pre-professional programs like biology, chemistry, and philosophy. Referred to as “feeder” programs, pre-professional areas of study appear to have a clear track to a career. Students who might not have an idea of what they want to do may default to a program they’re not necessarily interested in but has some sense of direction. 

2. Your heart’s not in it.

If you’re simply uninterested in the classes you’re taking, that’s reason enough to start looking elsewhere. Because high school was, for the most part, all general education, you might not have been so interested in school. But college is not just a box to check off your list; it’s a place at which to explore and discover your passions. If you think you’d be more interested in studying anything else, follow that urge!

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3. You are not performing well in your major classes.

College is challenging, but it’s not supposed to beat you down. Are you just mustering through your major and barely skating by? Are you not grasping the material? Consider the possibility that you might get better grades in another subject that comes more naturally to you.

4. Your major is incompatible with your ideal career path.

Maybe, at some point in college, you realized what profession you hope to pursue after you graduate. If that discovery isn’t in line with the field of study you’re in now, see if there’s a way to pursue a major that has more relevant course material. 

5. You cannot correlate your major to your future goals.

Similarly, you might have a hard time understanding how your major would even translate to a career, even if you are studying something that interests you. It may be wise to reconsider a more defined path that has a clearer career trajectory.

6. You chose a major compatible with income, not interest.

Just because doctors make a considerable amount of money, that does not necessarily mean that majoring in a pre-professional feeder program is right for you. Money isn’t everything. Imagine being in this line of work two decades from now—will your efforts have felt worth it?

7. You struggle to connect to your major’s approach.

Your major will often influence your thinking, and those who succeed are those who can adapt their thinking to the way their courses need them to. Social science students, for instance, need to be able to think about how micro- and macro-level systems interact with one another. These subjects play with abstract ideas and the way that they manifest in tangible ways. Students in the natural sciences, on the other hand, might find it more beneficial to rely on empirical data and detail-oriented factors in order to find accurate results. If you are struggling to keep up with the very way of thinking in your field of academia, it might be time to switch to something with a different intellectual culture.

8. Your current major does not match your strengths.

Maybe the idea of biochemistry is fascinating to you, but you actually struggle to keep up in class. It’s great to have a wide variety of interests, but you can’t be expected to be a master of everything that excites you. Where do your strengths lie? You don’t need to abandon other subjects entirely, but you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to stay invested in them, either. Pick some subjects up as hobbies while otherwise majoring in a field in which you can succeed.

9. You find more interest in another field.

If you have a genuine interest that’s tugging at you, stay curious! It’s worth pursuing something that grabs your attention. Think about whether you can (and if you would prefer to) commit to that interest. If so, it might be time for a change. 

10. The overall work is challenging.

Being challenged at school is a good thing. You’re forced to grow, adapt, and learn from your mistakes. That said, it might be an issue if you are spending a considerably larger amount of time on course work than you feel like you should be. Remember that when you select a major, you have at least eight semesters’ worth of toiling away. Think of a challenge that you can take on, not one that you feel forced to deal with.

11. It’s impacting your relationships and mental health.

If your course work is taking a large enough toll on your social life that you are losing your friends and sanity, then it may be time to re-evaluate your major choice. If this is the case, seek out a counselor through your Student Health Services so that you are adequately supported. And then take the steps necessary to get you out of the situation that is causing you stress. 

12. You find no interest in the course format.

Let us face it: a majority of college work is textbook based. That is a given that is not always all that interesting. If you are especially uninterested in reading about the subject, however, it will continue to present a challenge for you over time. Outside of textbooks, you may also have an issue with the lab work, discussions, or general class format specific to your major. 

13. Your academic advisor recommends a new path.

Academic advisors are trusted education professionals. If they are recommending a new path, it’s likely a good idea to take their advice. They may even catch onto your aversion to your major before you do!

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14. You participated in an internship and hated it.

It’s always recommended to participate in an internship. Not only will you learn about your area of study, but you will also get hands-on experience in your field of study. Learning and working in the actual work environment of your desired career path is the best way to know whether it truly is the career you want. If you try working in your field and can tell that you won’t want to be doing it for the remainder of your working life, then it is definitely worth the change.

15. You spend time researching other majors.

If you are spending time researching other majors, that speaks volumes. Meet with your advisor and let them know about your doubts!

16. You’re nervous about your employment prospects.

Picking a major that may not necessarily lead to a career may lead to a less-than-satisfying post-graduate experience. Your education lays down a discipline-specific foundation that is going to be more useful in one career than another. And, unfortunately, not all disciplines fit neatly into solid career trajectories. Consider the challenges you might face in finding employment and paying off your student loans! All this said, it is not at all necessary to major in something directly related to your desired career. College is always a worthwhile investment regardless of major, but take the time to consider your choices.

17. You no longer want to go to the classes.

Look, opting not to go to classes can get you in big trouble, whether your class has a grade for attendance or if you simply can’t miss out on explanations of the course material. It’s a big problem to find yourself skipping class. Likewise, even considering skipping class on a regular basis is indicative of some desire to change.

18. You were pressured into a certain major.

Especially if your parents are helping you pay for school, you might feel pressured into pursuing the degree that they want you to get. But what’s the point of being miserable for the sake of others? Try having a talk with whomever it is who is pressuring you to study something specific. Mention all the reasons you feel disconnected to your area of study and then play around with the ideas of whatever else you’re interested in. Trust your gut, and try not to let others tell you what you should study.

19. You are enjoying your elective courses more than your major courses.

This one’s a bit tricky to navigate. Of course, almost everyone loves electives, as they often come with less strenuous studying and course work. An elective theatre course, for example, may be your favorite class one semester, but it might not be what you want to study and get a degree in. 

It is important to consider, however, that electives are also one of the best ways to try out a field of study and discover what a different discipline is like. If more than one elective course, particularly in an employment-generating field, stands out, it is probably time for a change.

20. The program is not worth the investment.

It takes a lot of work to find the college and program that fulfill your needs. If a school is underdelivering while still taking all your tuition money, it’s worth considering a change. College is an investment, and it needs to be worth it. If school doesn’t feel that worthwhile in the long run, both professionally and financially, it’s time to weigh your pros and cons of studying the major you have now.

There is no shame in changing your major. In fact, it’s far more common than you might think it is! What’s most important is that you feel like you’re getting a worthwhile investment while building the skills you’re passionate about. For more tips on how to find your passion and thrive in college, visit Colleges of Distinction’s Advice section for both future and current college students!