Are you unsure about your major? You’re not alone

Headshot of Elise Deschamps. (Photo by Xander Ordinola)
Headshot of Elise Deschamps. (Photo by Xander Ordinola)

The average college student will change majors three times, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Even further, only about a quarter of college grads actually have a job related to their major, according to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. 

In an informal Instagram poll on my personal account, I asked students whether or not they have ever changed their majors, how many times they have switched, and why.

Nearly 70% of 250 college students who responded to the poll said they had switched majors at least once.

Eighty-three students switched once, 43 students switched twice and 38 students switched three or more times.

Fifty-eight students switched majors during their freshman year, 68 during sophomore year, 17 during their junior year, and six during their senior year. A few more expressed that they switched majors every year of being at college.

Unless you are completely set on becoming a nurse, doctor, engineer or the like, it’s likely that later on in life, you might find yourself in a career field far different from anything you could have imagined in college.

Before I even made it to Southern, I was set on a career in engineering. I took dual enrollment classes in high school that set me up for the career I thought was perfect. Even though I had been saying for years that I wished I could just be paid to have conversations with people, I decided to ignore that passion and strength of mine. And instead, I channeled my energy into my calculus class. I quickly realized after my first physics class that, for me, a career in engineering would not be fulfilling. 

I started college majoring in international development studies. Halfway through the semester, I switched majors to public relations. For a while, I had a feeling that I still wasn’t where I needed to be. But I decided to stick with it through my entire sophomore year out of simplicity and ignorance of other opportunities.

Over this past summer, I switched to the major I had been too afraid to pursue in the first place: journalism. For the first time since coming to college, I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be. Even still, I have no clue whether or not I will actually end up in journalism, but I am okay with that. What I do know is that I am in classes that excite me and inspire me as much as they exhaust me, rather than only the latter.

My experience is not unique. Plenty of students, if not most students, have the same realizations and very similar stories.

“I was very indecisive and didn’t know what I wanted in life, what my strengths and skills were, or what degrees Southern offered. I did a ton of research about what careers I could pursue in the communications field. I want to have a job that allows me to travel, and there are a lot of opportunities for communication majors. Another thing that made me realize I found my place is how my talents have aligned with the different experiences, both school work and job related, I’ve had while at the School of Journalism and Communication.”

– Sarah Manuel, a junior who switched from allied health pre-dent, to English, to marketing, to media technology and finally to mass communication with an emphasis in advertising.

“I realized that I wasn’t doing something that was true to me, but rather was what others expected. At first, I still didn’t know if social work was right for me, but I knew I wanted to help people in a different way. The more classes I took, the more I fell in love with social work and how much it fit me,”

– Sierra Dunzweiler, a junior who switched from general studies, to nursing, and finally to social work.

“I had no idea what I wanted to study or what would make me happy. I am finally happy with my major, and it is worth taking an extra year of college. I wish I had taken time before I came to college to match my interests with my talents, and I wish I had known all the career options/majors available to me.”

– Sierra Ureta, a senior who switched from biology pre-med, to nursing, to business administration, to business and public relations, and finally to public relations with a minor in marketing.

“Passion fuels purpose, and that is more important than money.”

– Words of wisdom from Jordan Jablonski, a senior who switched from marketing, to computer science, to business administration, and finally to graphic design.

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