Picking a major in college is a lot like dating.
Many students will know exactly what they want to do with the rest of their lives, pick a course of study, and go on to a rewarding career. It’s kind of like knowing early on when that special someone is perfect for you; it just feels right from the start, so a long-term relationship, marriage, and family come naturally.
Others may need to play the field before finding the right fit, so taking it slow for a while makes perfect sense. Then things start to get serious, and you begin thinking that this major might be “the one.” There are lots of good moments, but there are other times when things seem a bit off, and you can’t place your finger on exactly what it is that seems out of place.
That out-of-place feeling may signify that you’ve picked the wrong major. Neglect to examine why you feel this way and you could be stuck with an undergrad degree in a field that ultimately doesn’t suit you.
Here are some telltale warning signs that you may have picked the wrong course of study, and how to know if changing majors is a smart decision.
1. You’re always bored in class
No college class is going to wow you all the time, but if the coursework in your major consistently fails to interest you, you may have picked the wrong major.
One simple explanation for being bored in class could be that you have a short attention span or aren’t concentrating enough. But you should have some level of interest or excitement for the classes and material you’re taking.
You should also be stressed out at least some of the time; it shows that you’re willing to embrace and tackle the challenges of your major without giving up. But if these elements are missing and you hate getting up everyday to go to class, it might mean that you and you major simply aren’t a good match.
2. Your grades are suffering
Getting A’s and B’s across the board is a mean feat no matter what your major is. But if a pattern of C’s and D’s begins to emerge, there’s likely a direct, obvious reason why you’re not doing well.
Maybe you’re not studying hard enough come exam time, or you’re phoning in your homework assignments. However, if you feel like you’re honestly giving it your best college try but your classes are just too challenging, your academic talents may be better expressed with a different major.
3. You picked your major without much thought
If you’re still undeclared while everyone else has got the ball rolling on their majors, you may feel the need to hurry up and pick something. Or maybe your parents, peers, or a professor have talked you into majoring in what they think is best for you, rather than what you want.
Whatever the case may be, if you can’t explain or justify why you chose your major, there’s a good chance you don’t have a real passion for what you’re studying. Even if you excel in your major, it might still feel wrong. Your college major doesn’t have to be bad for it to be bad for you.
4. You chose your major for the money
If you chose your major solely because it’ll land you a well-paying job, you may need to adjust your priorities. While it’s always a wise decision to major in something that will provide you with plenty of career opportunities and a decent income, majoring in something only because it will pay well isn’t a recipe for success.
Chances are you’ll get exactly what you want after graduating — a high-paying job, albeit one you’re not interested in or passionate about.
5. You dislike (read: can’t stand) your professors
No matter your major, you won’t get along with every single professor. Some teachers place different standards on their students and have their own instruction or lecture style that might not align with yours.
But if you’re not on the same page with any of your profs in your major course of study — the very teachers you should have a good rapport with — then it may be a sign you’re in the wrong major. Your professors should be your mentors, and you should be communicating, rather than clashing, with them.
6. Other majors sound more appealing to you
When you don’t share the same enthusiasm for the subject matter that your classmates have, you might be in the wrong place. Moreover, if you find yourself envious of other students who are excited about what they’re majoring in, it might be time to think about changing majors.
If you can imagine yourself succeeding and excelling in another major — any major — different than yours, see it for what it is: a big clue that it’s time to start studying something else.
Should I change my major?
Changing majors depends on a lot of factors, not just the ones we’ve listed above.
First, consider your costs to attend college. How much tuition have you already paid? How many student loans have you already taken out? Switching majors can be relatively affordable in the right circumstances, but delay too long and you could incur more debt if you start your new curriculum from scratch.
If you’re considering changing majors, arrange a time to meet and talk with your professors or your academic advisor. They can help you determine which course of study might be a better fit for you in the long run.
With the wrong major, you might flounder and fail, and need to start again at great financial expense. Or worse, you may graduate but gain experience in the wrong field, never enabling yourself to pursue what it is you may really want to do in life. And the longer you wait, the harder it becomes to change course.
The sooner you determine if your major is right or wrong for you, the quicker you can get on the path to a fulfilling life in college and career — without regrets.
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