Many research findings suggest that anywhere from 50-80 percent of college students change their major at least once.
I became a part of that statistic halfway through my first semester. But I’m here to tell you that it’s okay — I learned a lot.
One of the main conclusions I made from my first year at UNI was that a combination of
living under oppressive rules in high school and 18 short years of life is not exactly an ideal recipe to get to know oneself, let alone know where I should focus my studies in college in order to receive a degree that I will be expected to apply for the rest of my life.
It did not matter how well I thought my high school education prepared me, I was bound to face struggles with my newly found independence in college, an independence that would challenge my concept of self and, consequently, change my course of direction.
I came in as a history education major — a product of my somewhat narrow scope of experience. I didn’t really know what was out there, or what I was interested in.
At 18-years-old you do not know yourself well enough to decide what you will enjoy doing in the future, not to mention other factors that make the decision more difficult, such as the steady increase in college tuition, demanding job markets, high unemployment rates, the “vocationalization” of higher education, etc.
God forbid the expectation of attending college right after high school would allow time for the student to gain confidence in being an independent person before racking up thousands of dollars in potentially unproductive student loans. We should give young people a chance to explore themselves.
Not only would more time between high school and college allow for a more gradual transition phase into independent adulthood, but it might provide adequate time to become more familiar with yourself and what you might like to do the rest of your life.
College and adulthood are supposed to be about decision-making though, right? So far, dodging some decisions that I have been met with in college has been easy, like deciding to avoid the doctor because I don’t want to go without my mom (it just wouldn’t be the same).
Unfortunately, deciding my major (and sticking with it) was one supposed responsibility that was difficult to dodge. After all, I, and so many other college freshmen attending their first class, was immediately submerged into a culture that is hinged upon planning for the future.
I now understand (and empathize with) the classmates that have told me about their “deciding” status on their major more than ever. Deciding your future is hard, especially when you just graduated from a time in your life when you had to raise your hand to ask permission to use the bathroom.
Telling someone that you plan to switch majors is often met with laughs, eye rolls, horror or the worst, concern. No one should be concerned. I am here to tell you: it is okay to change your mind. It’s fine if you want to switch, add or drop a major once, twice or five times, just to end up with the original major you came into college with. Do yourself a favor and take some time to get to know what you actually like and just forget about graduating early or even on time. It’s a myth.
And please, whatever you do while you’re here, do not let another person make you feel like you should have this figured out already.