When I started looking at schools, I had two requirements. 1) It had to be near a beach, and 2) it had to have a marine biology program. Many of my friends in high school looked at me strangely, and asked, “Why? You’re really good at English. Don’t you want to be a writer or something?”
And I did, but I also knew that if I got a degree in English, I’d be labeled as, “The girl who is going to teach”, or worse, “That girl who says she’s writing a novel.” Despite the fact that math was by far my weakest subject, I knew that I wanted to be a marine biologist. I planned to work hard to get through my introductory science classes so I could get to the more interesting upper division classes like ichthyology, marine ecology, and invertebrate zoology.
My plan failed spectacularly when, in my sophomore year, I failed chemistry, disqualifying me from the marine biology major. I was devastated and heartbroken. I was being forced to give up on my dream. My life as I knew it was over.
Yet, a year and a half later, I’m still here. I’m doing well in my classes, and I’m loving my new major (literature). I’m living proof that switching your major is not the end of the world. Whether you discover you hate your major after one class, or whether it takes two years for you to figure out that this is not the work you’re cut out to do, you can start down a new path.
Between my three roommates and I, we’ve collectively switched majors six times. We all came into college with a plan, and that plan changed. That’s okay. Part of the reason you go to school is figure out what you’re good at, what you like doing, and what you can see yourself doing for the next 10 or 15 or 20 years. One of my favorite parts of talking to my professors is hearing what they’ve done. It gives me ideas about how I can use my degree, and what sorts of careers I can look into.
If you do decide to change majors you should keep a couple things in mind.
- First: changing your major from say, marine biology to literature, or art to neuroscience, is going to dramatically change your academic plan. Talk to your counselors to make sure that you can graduate on time, or at least as quickly as possible. The last thing you want is to be stuck in school, watching all your friends graduate while you still have another quarter to go.
- Secondly, re-evaluate your long term goals in relation to your new degree. Look into what sorts of internships, jobs, and opportunities are best suited to your education. Don’t wait until after college to do this sort of research. Prepare yourself for the job market.
- Thirdly, and most importantly, remember that you are not your degree. You are not your grades, you are not the school you are going to. You are a human being with friends, and family, and other people who care about you. Mostly, they just want you to be happy. So make sure you do that. Whatever path you decide to go down, make sure its something that makes you happy.