Changing majors seems daunting but is accessible

Photo courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels.

At the end of every semester, there is always a group of uncertain students who are considering changing their majors or career paths. Though this may seem daunting, it is possible.

Something I never saw myself doing was changing my career path. From the time I began applying to colleges during my senior year of high school to my junior year of college, my mindset was the same: I wanted to work in social media. I knew I would be a Communications major and did not think that would ever change.

Cut to the summer before my senior year of college, I made the decision that I wanted to become an elementary school teacher. 

I was extremely scared of this realization because I was going into my final year of college. It felt too late for me to change my major — I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want the last three years of college to go to waste, but I also wanted to move into an industry where I could see myself thriving and happy. So, I did it. I made the decision that I would get my education certificate. 

My experience is not an isolated incident; in fact, many Ramapo students have switched majors after falling out of love with what they initially went to college for.

“I started as a Communication major and [I took] a lot of PR and media courses. Obviously, I was 18 and unsure of myself so I just wanted to pick something that I thought I could build a successful career in,” said Sky Trela, junior, reflecting on their own experience switching majors. “I have an aunt who works in PR so I figured that’s an easy enough start. I was always more worried about ‘will I get hired’ than what I was truly passionate about.”

Trela changed their mind during the pandemic. “I decided to switch to a Theater major with a Stage Management concentration. I put off doing this major because I believed picking a Theater major would leave me waiting tables all my life. Honestly there’s just so much stigma around picking a career that is purely something people enjoy, especially in performing/visual arts. There’s so much pressure to major in something that’ll result in a high income or that has a higher hiring rate.”

For anyone who is struggling to see themselves in the field they have chosen, remember that you can always make a switch.

At Ramapo, it is not uncommon to see a student change their mind in regards to their major. According to the Center for Student Success, "While many students enter college with a major choice already made, nearly 70% change their minds in the first two years."

Kylie Suarez, a junior, changed her major to Psychology, and does not regret taking that step.

 

I wanted to change my major to Psychology since my career was to be a psychologist/counselor of some type, so [making this change] was the best way to get there." Suarez said. "[After changing my major] I felt more secure and comfortable that I was on the right path.”  

The best lesson I have learned in college is that you are never too old and it is never too late to change your mind. The most important thing in life is that you are happy or content with what you are doing. If you are unhappy with the path you are on, you can make that change.

There are so many benefits to changing your major to something better fit for you. In fact, according to the University of Tulsa, “Contrary to popular belief, switching college majors can actually increase a student’s likelihood of graduating from college, according to a new study from the EAB [Education Advisory Board]. Students who seek out resources on campus such as the university’s career services office or mentors have an 83% graduation rate when finalizing their major between their second and eighth semesters, whereas those who finalize their major in the first semester have a 79% graduation rate.” 

I must acknowledge that I am privileged to be able to financially afford this extension. I am so glad that I have made this switch, because I can now see myself working a job that fulfills me in the future.

We are expected to decide what we will do for the rest of our lives at the ripe age of 18. As an almost 22-year-old, I think back to myself four years ago and hardly recognize her. It is not only unfair for society to expect us to make this huge decision so soon but it is also unfair to expect ourselves to feel the same way about our careers at 18 and 22. 

Advice that all college students should remember is that you’re never stuck. You have the agency to change your mind and take control of your life. 

If you ever find yourself questioning your decision of your major or career, remember that you have the power to make that change, and there is nothing that can stop you from doing so.

 

agiampag@ramapo.edu