The second week of classes has barely begun and I’ve already switched out of my program and changed my major back to undecided. Writing that sentence seemed scary at first, as if by putting it on paper I’ve cursed myself with an unknown future career path, much less a clear direction later in life. Maybe as a reader you’re subconsciously thinking, “Glad it’s her and not me.” In fact, I used to be glad that I was not the friend in the group jumping through hoops to get out of a major they hated. After all, no one wants to be the “hot mess” friend. But here I am, almost reveling in it. How did I get here?
Obviously, my first instinct when I realized I didn’t enjoy my program was to call my mom. And as I did, she sent me article after article assuring me a major change wasn’t a death sentence. While I knew changing your major was fairly common, I didn’t know that according to the National Center for Education Statistics, in a study of 25,000 students enrolled in postsecondary education in 2012, about 30% of students with a declared major had changed their major at least once. Now, being in that percentage myself, I can say it’s not a bad group to join, even if I never thought it’d be me. After all, didn’t I, along with the many other undergraduates now changing their major, apply to specific universities based on their program offerings? I struggled with leaving a pathway I had originally been so proud and excited to take, but I also didn’t want to stay somewhere I was unhappy just because I used to think it was what I wanted.
Settling this internal debate wasn’t easy, and certainly did not happen overnight, but I have since fallen in love with the idea of a major change. Realizing that you want to pursue something else and actually having the autonomy to do so is empowering. It reminded me that I’m in college because I want something more out of life. Thus, I might as well study what I enjoy.
Changing your major keeps you from viewing the future with a bitter disregard. It’s the same reason I would argue for dropping the class that has a nightmare of a syllabus and a painful first day. “Toughing it out” only hurts your happiness in the long run. If you don’t like where you are, find somewhere new.
Meetings and paperwork are generally a hassle, so maybe a major change doesn’t seem worth it. But in my opinion, happiness is priceless and definitely worth much more than a few trips to the Office of the Registrar. These offices are there to help students. Utilize them! In high school, advisors warned me that choosing a larger school like the University of Connecticut would give me a lesson in advocating for myself. I now attend UConn knowing that I need to fight a little harder for what I want, to avoid slipping through the cracks. Staying in a major I no longer have a passion for would not fit into this theme of self-advocacy.
My biggest takeaway from my first week of college not over Zoom is that advocating for yourself is extremely important. Part of this process for me required changing my major, which ended up being the best thing to happen to me last week (despite the cliche). So, if you have some doubts regarding your current plan of study, and the opportunity to do so, change your major! After all, in the grand scheme of things, a little change of plans in your undergraduate experience is barely even a bump in the road.