Changing Majors

Nathan Gallagher is a writer and comedian vetted by the mountains that run through James Madison University where he got his Bachelors of Science in Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication. His areas of expertise include humor writing, personal narrative, business writing, and field research. Nathan loves bringing a bit of humor and truth to everything he does, whether it is writing a sketch or drafting up a memo.

“Oh, that’s nice. Good for him.” I said mustering only the waves after waves of undeserved condescension a sixteen year old could manage. I had just found out that an acquaintance who had graduated two years previously had changed his major in college, and I thought he was dumb because of it. Even though I was just a junior in high school, I knew what I wanted to major in and what I had wanted to do with my life since I was ten.
Cut to three and a half years later where I was finishing up my winter break of my sophomore year. I had just woken up when a large realization had hit me. I didn’t like any of my major classes, my G.P.A. was suffering because of that, I wasn’t enjoying school and the people around me, and I didn’t want to pursue post-grad studies in my major –which was necessary for me to get a job in the field of psychology. In short, I was faced with the problem a lot of college students find themselves in; I needed to change my major.
A study conducted by the University of La Verne shows that around fifty to seventy percent of students change their major during their time in undergrad and those who change their major once, are more likely to change it again. There are a lot of factors that go into resisting changing your major. A lot of people don’t want to abandon all the credit hours they have done in their current major, some people have parents to convince to do a separate major, a large concern for many is not graduating on time, or if you are like I was then it was about not wanting to feel directionless.
College is not about leaving it the way you started it, unscathed and unchanged. In fact, it is just the opposite. This is why most all colleges have a general education program that students are required to finish. While a good portion of these “gen eds” are kind of annoying, they are there to help you explore. They are the best tool for finding out what your new major should be, should you decide to change it. Getting into a class helps you get a feel for what is to be expected in the major, what material is studied, and how it is covered.
A tool that was useful for me when I was picking a new major was my friends. I didn’t know what classes to take cause I didn’t know what direction I was going in. I sat in on a few of my friend’s classes during the first week back from winter break and transferred into the ones I liked before the add/drop date deadline. I found out that I liked writing through a Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication course. As I journeyed deeper into the major, I felt more fulfilled. I was not only more likely to do my work, but be excited about it. I felt like I had found purpose in my life. And while it did feel like I was waving goodbye to my childhood dreams it was because I was not a child anymore. I changed, as people are apt to do from ages ten to twenty, and with that so did my dreams. I had new dreams and goals and directions that suited me now –that made me happy –and that makes the discomfort of changing majors all worth it.

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