Change your major: Improve college GPA and student advantage

If you feel unsure about your major, look into changing it. (Credit: Phillip Martin)

If you feel unsure about your major, look into changing it. (Credit: Phillip Martin)

Now that you have a year or so of college under your belt, maybe you’re having second thoughts about your declared major. There’s no shame for college students in changing your major. The goal of college is to give you an education in a subject that interests you and to help you get a job you will enjoy in your career. Changing your major offers a student advantage by improving academics, helping you do better on midterms, improving your reading level and possibly getting a higher overall college GPA.

Reasons to change your major

There are many reasons college students change their major, minor or add another minor:

• Your major is more difficult that you thought it would be

• Your parents encouraged you to major in a subject you’re not interested in

• You chose a major just because you thought it would get you a high paying job

• The subject matter is not as interesting to you now that you’ve begun to study it

• There were so many choices of a major you just picked one at random

• You want to explore other classes in other fields to discover what you’re good at

• You fell in love with the subject of an elective class and want to make it your major now

• You realize it’s okay to turn your hobby into a career (ex: turning making fun videos for your friends into a film career).

In “10 reasons why students change their majors,” by Shelly Williams, posted October 10, 2012, in The Shorthorn, “Ylona Cupryjak changed majors three times before deciding to major in English. She was a pre-med major, a theater major and a radio, television and film major. ‘In high school, they never encouraged us to figure out what we wanted to do,’ she said. … ‘So I never knew what my skills were. As soon as I got to college and was thrown into all these different people and different ways about going about life, that’s when I had to figure things out.’”

Are you sure this is what you want to do?

Stop and think before you change your major. If you’re a business major and that one chemistry elective you took blew you away, changing your major the next day to chemistry might be too quick a decision. Give it some time to mull over in your mind. Read thoroughly the chemistry curriculum, which includes all the other classes involved in the major, to see if this is exactly what you want to do.

How to change your major

Colleges and universities have different rules about changing a declared major, so check with your school. For example, students must be current, degree-seeking undergraduates who have never applied for degree conferral or graduation. Some colleges have a Change of Major Form to fill out, and some have a GPA minimum (usually 2.0).

For example, the University of Minnesota explains how to Change your major or college or add a second undergraduate degree program: “Students may change from one major to another or declare additional majors and minors by following these steps for declaring a major: 1. Talk to your academic adviser or your college’s career services professionals to help clarify your goals. 2. Each college at the University has its own policies and procedures for changing majors. Some majors are competitive and require an application or portfolio review.”

Does any of it matter anyway?

There’s debate in the academic world about whether your college major actually matters in relation to your career potential. In “Your College Major May Not Be As Important As You Think,” by Zac Bissonnette posted in the New York Times blog The Choice on November 3, 2010: “Most people will graduate with higher G.P.A.s if they study something they are passionate about. High G.P.A.s help graduates land jobs, and there is a fairly strong correlation between class rank and career earnings. Great grades also help with graduate school admissions… Majoring in something that interests you is just the obvious thing to do. You’ll have more fun, have a richer experience and be less likely to drop out if you are actually passionate about what you’re studying.”

Have you thought about changing your major? If so, why? Share with us in the comments.

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