Picking a college major is a pretty huge deal. After all, if you’re going to study one topic for four years, you probably want to pick something you have a true passion for and curiosity about. Which sounds simple enough…until you consider how dramatically people change during the years they typically go to college.
So what happens if you look up in the middle of your college career and find you have serious doubts about whether or not you’ve picked the professional path that accurately reflects not just who you are, but who you’re going to become? What do you do when you think you chose the wrong college major, and you’re seriously stressing about what to do next?
Here are all the reasons why you shouldn’t worry if you think you’ve picked the wrong major.
1Your college major doesn’t define you as a person.
In those first weeks of school, it’s probably enthralling to introduce yourself by saying, “Hi, I’m so-and-so, and I’m a history major.” You can feel a sense of kinship as the semesters begin, sharing classes with fellow history majors and perhaps even joining clubs and extracurricular activities, surrounding yourself with your people.
But your college major doesn’t actually mean that much in the grand scheme of life, despite how it seems right now. Really! After you take off that cap and gown, we’re fairly certain you’ll rarely be asked about your major anyway. Which brings us to our next point…
2Many people don’t end up in the intended career path of their chosen major anyway.
To put it bluntly: A college major is not a life sentence, and you’re not getting married to it. Ask any number of adults in your life what their college major was, and there’s a good chance the answer will surprise you, because it might have nothing to do with their current career. Sure, plenty of people end up in a fulfilling career that lines up with their major, but life is extraordinarily unpredictable, and an older and wiser person will assure you that it’s not a predictor of your future career success if you’ve picked the wrong major at age 18.
3You’re still learning tons of valuable skills.
Whether you’ve realized you chose the wrong major as a freshman or as a senior (and yes, it happens), any college education is a valuable one. We promise. You can’t un-know what you know, and you can’t unlearn what you’ve learned, so it’s worthwhile to take from your degree what you can, remembering that you’ve still picked up an arsenal of tools, lessons, and skills that will help you in any career path you end up choosing.
4You can still learn a lot from your classmates and teachers.
Any relationships you make in college are important, but especially valuable are those of your fellow classmates and professors. So even if you end up as a museum curator when you studied microbiology, you’ll more than likely end up forging connections and relationships with people in those four years that will last a lifetime. And that’s one of the best things about college in general! You will learn so much from the people around you in your classes no matter what direction your life takes afterwards.
5You can (and should!) network in other fields.
If you think you’ve chosen the wrong major but might be stuck staying in the degree path or else you risk graduating late, one thing you can do is to network in other fields. Attend conferences, seminars, and mixers in the field you’re more interested in, so you can make connections and learn from other like-minded individuals. Join clubs or groups related to your true passion, so that even if your workload doesn’t reflect your true passions, you can still immerse yourself in the field you love. It’s easier than you’d think.
6Take electives or internships.
We know it’s tough when you’re carrying a full course load, but one way to find your true passion is by taking electives or internships that sound fun and interesting to you. Electives are a great way to keep learning and honing your talent but when it doesn’t directly impact your degree path, you will find them so much more enjoyable. Internships can give you the skills and connections in the industry you eventually want to be in, and often aren’t major-dependent.
7You can always switch majors.
OK, so we know this one is very obvious, but people tend to forget that you can actually switch majors. If you’re in the wrong major, and it’s still early enough, you may be able to switch majors while still graduating on time or slightly late. This isn’t realistic for a lot of people, we know, but it’s still worth checking in with your academic advisors to see if it’s actually possible to switch to something you’ll truly love.
8Remember: You’re allowed to change your mind.
If it’s just not feasible for you to change majors, it’s worth taking pause and remembering that you’re still super young. We’re here to tell you that basically no one knows what they truly want out of life in their early twenties, and if they do, they’re a miracle human. People grow and change — what you wanted as a wide-eyed freshman likely probably isn’t what you want at 25 or 35. You will be fine. Your degree will not go to waste.
9You may still be able to apply your degree to your future career anyway.
Even if you graduate with a degree that doesn’t fit who you are or what you want out of life, take comfort in knowing that you may still be able to use your degree in totally unexpected ways. Really! If you studied math but want to own a bakery, you’re definitely gonna need those mathematical skills. All is not lost, and you have your whole life ahead of you to figure out how your education can help you find your true inner success and happiness.