Post-high school is a time for students to explore their educational options and potential careers. At this stage, students may feel pressure to have it all figured out. But in reality, university students are still exploring their options and learning what suits them best. They might even consider changing their major. This change may be unsettling due to the possible consequences, such as a lengthened study period, higher tuition fees and the feeling of uncertainty that comes with trying something new. However, view this as an investment rather than a cost. I truly believe that there are several benefits to taking the leap and changing your major, as it can be more rewarding than you think. If you are having trouble deciding, this blog is for you.
University is the time to discover who you are. At SFU, students are offered a variety of opportunities and programs, including social community outreach, student clubs, cooperative education, and volunteer opportunities to gain practical experience to use as a framework for self discovery. Students are also encouraged to consider minors, electives and to participate in academic activities to continue to expand their knowledge and experiences. Along the way, students might discover new interests, abilities or possibly determine they aren’t in the right major.
Students might feel expectations to pick one major at the start and stick with it for the next four years. Whether it's a major or future career, it's hard to know if you like something until you give it a try. Who ever said a med student cannot change her mind and become a literature professor? It is important to understand that we are still in the middle of a discovering process. Mistakes are unavoidable but are actually beneficial as you learn from them. The most crucial thing is to have the courage to explore possibilities, and opportunities.
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life."
Changing a major may result in a lengthened study period, which can feel like a waste of time and money. This is a valid concern. It is true that when you switch between majors, not all previous courses will count toward your degree requirements. However, it is important to understand that any course, even if it will not count toward your degree offers valuable learning and skills that may transfer into a new environment. After all, this is what university education is all about - learning and exploring. No class is ever truly a waste of time if you can change your perspective from seeing your degree as something that is only meant to land you a job position, to seeing it as something that helps you learn and grow as an individual.
If you ask a student why they chose their major, sometimes the response is "my parents want me to," "I was uncertain so I just picked one" or "I want to change... but I've already spent so much time on this degree, I can’t change now.” There may be a sense of guilt when it comes to re-evaluating your decision especially when it comes to accepting the fact that you might not have made the best decision in the first place. This can be difficult to accept because it can be intimidating to leave behind something that you have invested time and effort. However, there are risks involved in everything we do. And when there are risks, there also exist new possibilities.
It is true that uncertainty and making a big change is uncomfortable. However, you are not alone. According to a survey conducted by Businesswire, it is estimated that 58 to 75 percent of students change their major at least one time before getting their degrees. This continues once you graduate as Canadians currently change jobs or positions around 15 times in their careers. Gaining experience in how to make and manage large changes now will benefit you in the future.
It is stressful to consider changing a major. However, there are people that are meant to help students through this change. SFU has several resources that could help guide your decision and make your transition easier. Speak to an academic, career or financial advisor. (add in the SFU links) and have conversations with peer mentors, family and friends. These are the people who will not only help you find the best solution, but also fully explain the procedure and requirements, and provide any additional help you might need to support you along the way.
According to an several articles from Harvard Business Review, while previous generations tend to concentrate on strengthening their loyalty and steadily moving up the career ladder, younger workers have a higher intention to explore careers and find workplaces with healthy working environment, fair compensation that give them the highest potential to grow on their job investments. In addition, it can be challenging in the current economy to find full-time employment with some new workers starting in the gig economy – working for multiple employers on contract. In other words, change and managing change is inevitable. I suppose I'm trying to say that although change can be intimidating at first, it’s normal, and even has a lot of potential for you to discover yourself both as an academic pursuer and a person.
I'll end this blog post with a quote that I absolutely adore from Jessica's graduation speech (and yes, this is from Twilight) that I think could help you to get through this challenged circumstance.
“This isn't the time to make hard and fast decisions, this is the time to make mistakes. Take the wrong train and get stuck somewhere. Change your mind and change it again, because nothing's permanent. So, make as many mistakes as you can. That way, someday when they ask what we want to be, we won't have to guess. We'll know.”