How University of Waterloo Students Can Decide to Switch Their Majors

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Should You Switch Your Major?

Choosing a major is an important rite of passage for students. Yet, because it’s a big decision to make, it can be a bit daunting. Many students select their major under pressure, only to reconsider in the future. In fact, most college or university students change their majors at some time. Since this decision will affect your career path, it shouldn’t be made under duress or to please others. If your major doesn’t fit your preferences and career goals, consider making a change. Of course, even this choice isn’t always so simple. Below are some considerations to help you make an informed decision about switching your major.  

How Will You Know You Should Switch?

The right major should fit your interests, passions, personality, and lifestyle preferences. A major that doesn’t align with these factors may therefore call for reconsideration. Fortunately, the brain tells you when something isn’t right. You’ll likely receive intuitive signals or signs that the fit just isn’t there. These may manifest as negative feelings and outward behaviours. Yet, because student life can have its up and downs, it’s easy to overlook these signals and write them off as regular aspects of student living. It’s, therefore, important to be on the lookout for the following signs that your major may not be right for you:

  • Failing grades despite keen effort
  • Dreading to complete assignments or attend classes
  • Lack of interest in or enthusiasm about your (major-specific) courses
  • Boredom during most classes

While you won’t find every course or assignment exciting, you should have a general interest in your academic program. If you don’t, then that program is likely the wrong fit, even if it’s what you always thought you wanted. Although making the switch may seem overwhelming, keep in mind that it could open new paths and provide options you didn’t know were there. Plus, it may alter your feelings about school and academic outlook.

Should You Consider Your Graduation Timeline?

Most people don’t want to stay in school longer than absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, changing your major can delay graduation, since it may mean new prerequisites and electives. If you’re a junior when you change your major, this could be a major setback. Upperclassmen are typically better off not changing their majors. So, if you’re interested in another program or unsure of your major, take a leap and change it as early as possible. This will help ensure a timely graduation, and will allow you to focus on cultivating your skills and interests in a field that matters to you. Of course, it’s always a good idea to consult an advisor, who will walk you through the potential impacts of changing your major.

How Should You Choose a New Major?

Once you’ve made the choice to switch, carefully consider the offerings of your potential new major. You should also consider what made you feel unsatisfied with your current major to avoid choosing another unfulfilling field. Spend some time brainstorming and make your way through the following steps.

  1. List the pros and cons of switching majors, as well as the pros and cons of your current and potential major.
  2. Identify any significant problem areas with your current field of study.
  3. Compare the course load and tuition costs for each major.
  4. List any courses you like and dislike from each major and compare those lists.
  5. Consider how each major fit with your personality, interests and wants for a future career.

Meet with your advisor to help refine your list and thoroughly explore your options. You may even be able to audit classes of interest or participate in projects related to your potential new major. Hands-on experience will test your passion and interest level to help confirm your choice. While these steps may seem like extra work, they’ll go a long way in solidifying your decision to make a switch or stick with your current major.

How you feel about what it is that you’re studying in school will play a big part in your overall student experience – so will your housing. If you’re currently looking for an off-campus University of Waterloo residence, book a tour or contact us for more information.

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