No Shame in Changing Educational Direction

Around two years ago I made an extremely fateful decision in my life: I changed my major from mechanical engineering to business management. While this may not seem a huge deal for some, for me it was the end of the legacy of 4 years of high school engineering classes — time spent following in my father’s engineering footsteps. Despite this, I couldn’t be happier with my decision. I want to encourage students to consider taking advantage of the registration period to change your life’s path.

My decision was impactful to me due to my previous bias against changing majors. Having a plan and sticking to it seemed like the best way to maximize the college experience. However, considering my experiences, and those of people I know, it is clear that not even those with the most passionate intentions can predict how their major will work out. Often majors turn out to be much different than expected, or your abilities do not measure up to standards. It is important not to let those biases hold you back from realizing the truth.

Think through whether your major should be continued. Consider if you can keep going through the remaining courses in your major without significant GPA difficulties or boredom. Those two factors are easily related, and can quickly turn entire semesters into wastes of time. Do not ignore current course experiences. Any negative feelings you have about your classes now will only be magnified as required courses become more difficult and specialized. Consider this sooner rather than later. It is easier to change your major in a predictive manner like I did rather than wait to experience catastrophic failure, and extending your graduation schedule.

Perhaps the most important thing you can do when deciding whether or not to change your major is consult your parents during any crisis of direction. Often they have significant financial investment tied up in your college experience. You may be switching out of the major they preferred and will not want their investment to go to waste. Both sides should take the time to think through the options and end up with a sustainable path.

You may not be on the wrong path if you are currently experiencing trouble. Changing your major should be viewed as a path of last resort, not as a salve to temporary difficulties, and switching your major too many times can be just as bad as sticking to a second-rate path. But if you know your current plan is going to fail, try developing some other skills.