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Things to consider before changing your major

There's nothing wrong with wanting to change your major, but be sure to do it for the right reasons. Source: Shutterstock

If you’re a university student who’s thinking of changing major midway through your studies, just know that you’re not alone.

While statistics vary, it’s estimated that nearly one-third of undergraduate students in the US change majors at least once. 

But just because it’s fairly common doesn’t mean changing major should be done on a whim.

Here are six things you should think about before taking the plunge.

Determine your reasons for changing major

There are many implications to changing your major, so it’s essential to understand why you’re considering it in the first place.

Some valid reasons for changing your major might include finding that the course no longer fits your academic or career goals, struggling to cope with the workload or the academic challenges of the degree, or that you discovered an interest in another subject and would like to further your studies in that area instead.

But if you’re currently taking a module you find boring or overly challenging, it may be a temporary problem you might be able to fix. You could try studying harder or asking for help from a classmate instead of taking the drastic plunge of changing major. 

Transferring credits

There’s nothing wrong with changing your major, but will you be able to transfer your credits to your new course or institution, and do you meet the entry requirements?

Here’s where you’ll need to do some research and check with the programme or institution you wish to enrol in.

Ideally, it would be better to change your major early in your degree. That way, it will hit you less hard financially if your credits are not transferable and you’ll waste less time, too.

Cost considerations

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Cost is a major factor for many university students, so if you’re thinking of changing your major, you may want to check whether or not you can afford to do so.

You may end up paying more for your education if your credits aren’t transferable, or if you’re changing your course from a shorter to a longer one.

Extending your education may also mean extending your student loan, which means being in debt for a longer period of time.

Student visa requirements

If you’re an international student, you may want to check whether changing your major will affect your student visa, especially if you are planning to enrol somewhere else.

Do some research and speak with your education counsellor for professional advice on the matter, or risk getting your visa cancelled if you fail to comply with the requirements.

Accommodation

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Depending on whether you’re pursuing an internal (within your current university) or external (different institution) transfer, your student accommodation may be affected.

If you’re doing the latter, you may need to find a new place to rent, in addition to shouldering the added cost of moving your belongings. You will also need to check your tenancy agreement to ensure you’re not breaking the terms by moving out earlier than scheduled and by giving your landlord sufficient notice.

The availability of public transport and how much longer or shorter the commute to university will be will also affect your monthly budget, so think it through!

Graduation

Are you in a rush to graduate and enter the workforce, either due to personal or financial reasons? You might want to assess how changing your major can affect this goal.

For example, if you’re transferring to a different major, you may have to wait if there’s no space in your programme of interest, which will ultimately delay your graduation.

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