We envy the students who knew what they wanted to major in before they left for college. In fact, we even envy the students who still feel committed to the major that they enrolled in, two years later. Why? Because in today’s day and age, commitment to anything is a lot harder to come by. Overwhelmed by indecision (and told we have the ability to do it all), most millenials are finding that because there are so many career options to choose from, picking exactly the right one that will guarantee success and happiness is harder than ever.
First world problems for sure, but that doesn’t mean they’re not real.
Are you undeclared and on the fence about what major you should enroll in? Are you in a major that doesn’t seem to feel right -- you find yourself dreading every department class, wondering what it’d be like to switch to liberal arts, or worse, considering dropping out altogether because of the tremendous uncertainty? Consider these five tips before you make a switch.
Dive inward. Oftentimes, we’re riddled with indecision and overwhelmed by the pressure to make a decision because we may not know ourselves well enough. How often do you spend time alone, pursuing the things you enjoy most and learning more about other things that interest you now or that did when you were a child? If you’re like most time-stressed college students, you’re probably spending a fair amount of time either staying so busy you forget to breathe, or finding ways to procrastinate. It’s time to get to know yourself better so you know how you’d like to structure your days (read: at least 40 hours of the week) for the rest of your life. Got a restless leg and hate sitting still? You might be more aligned for a career requiring you to be in the field than behind a computer. Spending your days crunching numbers in accounting and wishing you had a blank canvas and some watercolors? Start thinking about pursuing a field that allows you to be just as creative as logical.
Assess your goals. First of all, we’re hoping you have thought about long-term goals. Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 20 or 30 years? What does your dream job look like? What do you feel called to accomplish in this lifetime? If you haven’t already, spend some time thinking about what you want out of life, particularly as it relates to you professionally. Write down your goals, and then try to work backward -- how can you get there? What classes should you be taking, and what extracurriculars should you be involved in that will help work towards those goals? If you’re noticing they’re not aligned with the major or school you’re studying in, it’s time to make a change.
Go on informational interviews or look into internships. The best way to figure out if your degree is in the field you want to want to work in longterm, is to try it out. Find second or third connections on LinkedIn who are doing what you think you’d like to be doing, and ask them for a bit of their time for an informal interview on what it’s like to be X for a living. See if you can do mini-internships of a week or two at the organizations you could see yourself working for. Shadow someone you know who’s in your potential dream field. Lots of times, those roles can appear glamorous from the outside, but the day-to-day tasks look nothing like your idealized scenario. Make sure you have proof and realistic expectations before you commit.
Talk to a counselor. Your college has a whole department dedicated to career services and pays career counselors for a reason. Use them! Counselors are trained to provide you with the help and direction you need to see yourself through the uncertainty. Especially if you’re thinking of switching majors -- you’ll want to make sure all of your credits transfer and everything you’ve done can be applied. Also consider talking to the advisors within your school or department. Since they’re so close to the industry, they’ll have more specific answers regarding the field that a general counselor may not.
Remember, nothing’s written in stone. National statistics show that about three fourths of all college students change majors at some point during their college career. And some change majors more than just once or twice. If you feel you're already too far along and changing majors would mean two more years of school that neither your parents (nor you) are willing to pay for, go ahead and get the degree. You’re not tied to the field, and oftentimes employers are eager to hire graduates with degrees in an alternative major. For example, if you’re thinking of dropping out of biology because you no longer want to commit to six plus more years of med school, but also love to write, try taking English, literature or communications classes that could allow for a career in science journalism or medical publishing. Build skill sets across the board so that you don’t have to depend on your degree to find you employment.
Lastly, don’t forget to sleep on it. Sometimes one bad professor or one challenging class can leave you wanting to do a 180 away from your current major. Weigh things out before making a switch, and be smart about making a decision.