How to Change Your Major in College

by Ashley Eneriz

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Chances are you’ve grown out of your childhood dreams of becoming a superhero or astronaut. Of course, this is entirely acceptable as you mature and move on to other interests. The same principle applies to changing your major.

If you’ve been wondering how to change your major (and if it is even a good idea), know that you aren’t alone. According to the Education Advisory Board (EAB), an estimated 75 to 85 percent of students switch majors before they graduate. In fact, many students change majors more than once.

Is It OK to Change Your Major?

Just as you aren’t the same person (with the same aspirations) as you were at five years old, you aren’t the same person after you have a year or two of college under your belt. College classes are meant to stretch you and point you toward new interests. Earning a degree is not just about picking a potential career that has the biggest paycheck. It is about choosing a degree that aligns with your strengths and talents and allows you to fulfill your unique purpose.

Considering the number of majors there are to choose from, you may not pick the right one the first time around. And that’s OK. Take advantage of any programs your school offers that are designed to help you choose a major. For instance, Azusa Pacific University offers an Exploring Program to help students find their calling within the community. After having their talents and passions assessed, participants are matched with vocational ideas and majors.

If you’re worried about graduating on time, you can rest assured that switching has little impact on graduation rates. “Students who switch to their final major in their junior or senior year graduate at nearly the same rate (a little more than 82%) as students who make their final declarations earlier,” the EAB explains.

Try not to think of your major as simply a means to an end. It’s not just a requirement of graduating—it’s the path you choose that will provide you with the training and education you need to better the world around you. Finding your calling takes time, effort, and patience.

Should You Change Your Major?

Before you change your major, spend some time thinking about why you want to change it. Here are three signs a degree change might be right for you:

  1. Have your interests and goals changed? College offers many more options and experiences than high school, which means it is only natural to discover exciting new passions in your life.
  2. Are you performing poorly in your classes? Don’t change your major to escape a hard course. Instead, use free student resources to achieve academic success. If, after several classes, you realize that a degree is not suited to your natural strengths, then it might be time to consider a different field.
  3. Did your parents pick your degree, or did you have the wrong motives for choosing your major? Many people select majors based on job and earning potential. The problem with this approach is that a big paycheck will not satisfy you the same way pursuing your calling will.

How to Change Your Major

The good news is that if you change your major within the first two years of college, most, if not all, of your credits should transfer to your new curriculum. Typically, the first two years of college consist of general education units that are designed to be the foundation for most majors.

To change your major, you will need to complete the major declaration process. Meet with an academic advisor beforehand to better understand what credits will transfer to your new degree. If you have completed coursework in your original declared major, you always have the option to minor in that field instead. This will ensure that your hard work is not wasted.

Once you declare a new major, an academic advisor can help you create a new educational plan to ensure that you know and can meet all of your new educational goals within the desired time frame. Although switching majors in the middle of the semester is possible, do not drop (or stop attending) classes just because they don’t apply to your new desired major. It is still important to do the coursework and earn good grades to keep a strong GPA.

If you are certain your current major is not the one for you, then meet with an academic counselor today. They can help you create an academic plan and point you toward student service opportunities and career workshops that will help you find—and define—your passions.