It’s Okay to Change Majors
In a world of infinite possibilities, sometimes it can be hard to know what you want to do with your life. College is a time of exploration – a time when everything is within your reach and all you have to do is pick a direction. This is a big decision, indeed, but selecting your college major, though it may seem like it, is not the last big decision you will make in your college career. In fact, according to MyMajors.com, 50 percent of college students who declare a major end up changing it.
Students often get caught up in the misconception that changing majors is a bad thing. In the end, the reason most people attend college is to find out what they are passionate about studying and what they want to do with their lives. Choosing a major you are not comfortable with is not the end of the world. In fact, changing majors can reveal to you your true calling, something that many people do not find until much later in life.
When I first applied to college, I knew I wanted to be a computer engineer – or at least I thought I knew. My dad studied computer science and is now the co-owner of his own company. Even today, after meeting some of the brightest students and professors, I see him as the smartest person I know. When I began scrolling through the list of majors that many colleges were offering, computer engineering jumped out at me because it was familiar. If I had half the brain my dad had, I would have no problem becoming a computer engineer and likely making over $50,000 a year after graduation. So, that is what I did for my first year of my undergraduate career at Howard University.
The work came naturally. I understood what I was learning, I worked hard on projects, and I saw the potential benefit of being able to program and build computers. At this point, there was only one problem. I knew that I was being sufficiently challenged and that I could handle it, but for whatever reason, my heart was not in it. Was this really what I wanted to do for the rest of my life?
It was at that moment when I experienced a huge turning point in my college career. I decided that the East Coast was not working out for me, so I moved back to California. I followed a buddy of mine to a school I had barely heard of by the name of University of the Pacific in a town that I had heard of maybe once. I also changed my major from computer engineering to something a bit more human to me: English. I had been passionate about the English language from as early as I could speak it, so my thought was, why not see what it is all about?
As soon as I stepped foot into my first English class with Professor Brendan Prawdzik, I knew I was walking into an entirely different realm. I entered a world of literature – where everything was questioned. Everything from word choice to punctuation placement has meaning. Authors like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau captivated me with their transcendental language. Though my appreciation for the English language grew, my curiosity to learn about the world which they described outpaced it.
After my first year as an English major, I had another decision to make. I loved reading and writing, but did I really want to spend my life doing that? After all, I was blessed with a scientific brain that likely would not be fully utilized as a writer. I needed a major that was practical, that would allow me to utilize my skills, and would allow me to make a lasting impact on the world. I finally decided to change my major yet again. This new major would combine science with humanity by requiring both analytical skills and a passion to help. Environmental science was it, and it took me changing schools once and changing my major twice in order to figure that out.
I had to work harder than most in order to catch up and graduate on time, but I have no regrets. Studying computer engineering proved to me that I had the brain. Studying English proved to me that I had the heart. Studying environmental science, the way the world works, and how things interact gave me a platform on which to build my future career. I have no doubt in my mind that this is what I want to do, and I would not have landed here if I had taken the safe route and not changed majors.
So, take your time. When deciding what you want to do, you must understand that the answer will not come to you overnight. The answer, instead, will reveal itself to you piece by piece. Making a decision based on just one of those pieces could leave you wondering what could have been. Your job, then, will be to pick up the pieces, solve the puzzle, and figure out what lights your life’s fire.