I’ve Changed Majors 5 Times In 3 Years, Here’s What I’ve Learned

Here are a few things that I have learned these past few years that I hope will help anyone who is considering switching majors!

Switching out of my first faculty was simultaneously one of the scariest and easiest things I have ever done.

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I started university in the Faculty of Nursing, much to the joy of my nurse parents. I quickly realized that I did not want to be a nurse, I was simply good at memorizing details for exams and really liked Grey’s Anatomy. Towards the end of my first year, I realized that I couldn’t stay in the faculty because I was stressed over something that I did not even enjoy. I decided to apply to transfer to the Faculty of Arts to complete my prerequisites for a Bachelors of Commerce. Why, you ask? Because I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I knew I needed to pick something that would make decent enough money so I could at least justify to my parents why I left nursing. I quickly realized that this was also a mistake because thinking about the economy, finances, and the various effects of capitalism just fills me with exorbitant amounts of existential dread.

So I thought to myself, I’ve always wanted to study English at university and become a professor, why didn’t I do this in the first place? So I decided to just stay in the Faculty of Arts and take various English courses with the hope of just graduating with an Arts degree. But then I remembered why I didn’t go this route in the first place: while I do love English literature, the variety of jobs that I could put an English degree to use to was oddly frightening. Such a diverse degree gave me too many options.

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That brings me to where I am now, in my third year of a Bachelor of Secondary Education. I really thought that it would be my last change. I was initially an English major, but after taking one fateful first year physics class, I decided to take a leap of faith and switch my major to Physics (even though I did not take any physics classes in highschool — I know, ludicrous!) and make English my minor.

After a few years of self-discovery and exploration, I discovered some things about myself: I love both science and the arts, I love learning in general, and I need direction in my degree but still room to explore. I cannot think of a degree that is better suited for me, and it has taken some time, but I can truly say that I have no regrets with changing my major so many times. I also want to acknowledge my privilege in being able to change majors and contemplate my professional goals in the first place, and preface that all of my advice does come from a place of privilege. I truly believe that I wouldn’t be where I am if I did not have the freedom to make those decisions early on in my university career. So I have compiled a few things that I have learned these past few years that I hope will help anyone who is considering making the leap and switching majors.

It’s okay to explore

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Use your optional credits to explore other disciplines you’re curious about. One of the reasons (aside from not connecting with the profession) that prompted me to move out of my first faculty is the fact that there were so many other courses that I just would not be able to try out because of the rigidity of the program. There is nothing wrong with the faculty or profession itself, but it was the fact that I was pushed to choose a major/potential profession so early in my life before I had even gotten the chance to explore other options. That’s why I definitely suggest trying out as many different types of courses as your degree permits. You never know what you may discover about those subjects or yourself.

A class that doesn’t go towards your degree is not a waste of time

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This is something that I have beaten myself up over so many times these past few years. I really struggled with knowing that, that because I changed majors so many times, a large portion of my courses don’t go toward my final degree requirements. But I am still thankful that I went through this struggle because it helped me remember what education truly means for me: learning. Sure, many of my courses won’t count towards my degree, but I learned so much in those courses, whether it is actual knowledge from the course or soft skills such as critical thinking and reading. If you are able to shift your perspective from viewing the purpose of your degree and your education as something that is solely meant to get you a job, to viewing it as something that causes you to grow as a person and learner, then no class is ever truly a waste of time.

It’s never too late to change your mind

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Are you really a university student if you haven’t heard at least one person say, “I don’t really love what I’m doing and I’d rather be doing something else, but I’ve already spent so much time on this degree I might as well keep doing it”? Speaking from my own experience, this is a sentiment that I have heard from my friends countless times. While I do understand where they are coming from, I truly believe that spending an extra year or two in university to get a degree in something you actually like is much better than spending then next part of your life working in a profession you don’t like.

A degree will not define the rest of your life

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I know I just said that I think it’s better to spend a bit of extra time achieving something you want versus spending years working on something you don’t like, but I’ve also come to see that the degree I leave university with does not and will not define what the rest of my life will be like. I used to dread the idea that after I graduate and get a job, even if it is a job that I like, that the rest of my life would become a cycle of doing the same thing every day (quarantine has definitely solidified this fear). But I believe that if you aren’t okay with working the same job the rest of your life, then you don’t have to. It really is that simple. Life is too long and too short to be doing mindlessly doing things for the sake of doing them.

Be critical of what you want

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It’s okay if you end up hating a subject you thought you loved. There is no shame in being let down by a course or even degree you thought you would love or you thought was perfect for you. Who you are is not set in stone so don’t feel like you need to force yourself to like something you thought you once loved!

There is risk in everything you do

I think everything I can say about this piece of advice is greatly summarized by this quote by Jim Carrey that has helped me throughout all of my major changes: “you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”

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If you’re considering changing majors or are questioning the degree you’re currently in, this is your sign that you’re not alone! Try not to feel bad for wanting to change what you’re studying, at the end of the day you should prioritize your own happiness. This is also your sign to consult the Career Centre! I wish I knew about these resources when I was major-hopping, but they have so many amazing services like Career Exploration Interviews, career advising, and countless other resources.

Good luck!

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