Changing majors: When it’s time for a fresh start

Changing majors: When it’s time for a fresh start

Many students find out after they start at university that their major isn’t right for them. As such the daily routine becomes a pain. Changing majors may be the remedy.

The same old every single day: You get up as late as possible, and look for reasons to skip school today, and haven’t even mustered the motivation to finish your assignment. And the deadline is the day after tomorrow! You had no idea that studying would be like this. Changing majors sounds more and more compelling to you. But how do you go about it?

What at first sounds like an unfortunate isolated case is not uncommon. According to  Spiegel Online, one in four students drop out from technical colleges, and at universities the figure is even higher at one in three.

“The most frequent reasons for it are false expectations of what the major would be like,”explains Lars Holtvoeth, President of BiTS.

Here you learn how dropping out could actually be an opportunity.

If it just won’t work

Boredom, stress, frustration, the wrong major can have many faces. However dissatisfaction with school can have other reasons. In order to find out the exact reason, you should first consider a few things.

A good place to start in this case may be your classmates: Is it really only you? Even though everyone has his or her abilities and limits, some clear patterns are sometimes observable. If others are also feeling overwhelmed by the subject or ignored by the instructors, then it could just be a difficult stage. In this instance, it is worth persevering and waiting for the next quarter.

Perhaps the reason is hidden in your schedule: While it can be fun to have a job alongside school, to pursue numerous hobbies, and to meet your friends as often as possible, the strain of this should not be underestimated. After all, this new routine is a huge change for students in their first semester. Check whether you regain your passion for your subject first, by finding more time for it. If that proves to be the case, you should think about finding a different job or set clearer priorities for your leisure time.

If it is neither the workload nor your time management, then it is worth looking into your major. Consider this: What had you imagined studying this subject would be like? How much of it has met your expectations, how much hasn’t? Support may be available by discussing the situation with the faculty. Ask for feedback and also inquire whether your expectations for the subject match. If the responses confirm your concerns, then you can breathe easy. No, changing majors is not your downfall. This is where things really get going!

Changing majors: What happens to your resume?

If the decision is to drop out early from the degree program, then many students have to contend with self-reproaches. Should I have known better? Do I still have a chance at a career? These worries are completely unfounded. As a high school graduate, you can experiment, make mistakes, and give it another go. That is human, and employers know that.

The so-called linear career progression is rare these days. The job market is dominated by lateral entrants and people who have been able to gain perspectives from many sectors. Be aware of the advantages: You have gained insights into a sector in your first major, which you would not have otherwise encountered. And you now know exactly what (and how) you do not want to study!

In addition: The fact that you want to change your majors doesn’t mean that all the effort was in vain. Depending on what subject you choose next, some credits may still count towards your degree. If your issue with the major was only the approach and not the subject itself, then a transfer to another university is possible. In this case, you lose no semester credits as a general rule.

You should not normally be concerned about disadvantages in your resume due to changing majors, especially if you can justify your decision well and reinforce it with your later stages. The only exception would be dropping out in the last or penultimate semester: You almost have the degree in the bag, you should complete it if possible. Afterwards you can always follow up with a second degree and demonstrate your sense of responsibility and perseverance by doing so.

Choose the right degree

In choosing your new major you should not rush. If it is not a match again, then the loss of time would certainly be greater. Don’t forget to ask yourself if the teaching approach was right for you. In what conditions do you study best? Are you looking for more or less support from the university? Do you need predominantly theoretical or practical content in order to get closer to your career goals?

Give yourself plenty of time, receive feedback, and use the range of information that universities offer, such as public lectures, course materials, information events or even trial courses. This way you are guaranteed to find what really works for you.

We wish you success!

Further reading: Which program is best for me?

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