Opinion: It’s okay to change your major

For those who may feel uncertain about their current path of study, fear not — it’s okay to change your major. In fact, it’s a normal part of college life.

Like many students, I entered col­lege with a plan for my life — I wanted to become a nutritionist. However, after several science courses, intern­ships and an informational interview with a professional in that field, my interest in nutrition fizzled.

Distraught and desperate for guid­ance, I visited my academic advisor’s office and explained my sophomore year crisis to her. After listening to my pan­icked rant, she asked me the question that changed the course of my college career: “What makes you happy?” It was in that moment that I was forced to re­flect. I smiled and quickly answered her with one simple word: “Writing.”

Unfortunately, there’s a stigma sur­rounding students who change their majors — especially those who leave STEM fields for the arts. Far too often, those who desire to change their majors are made to feel like they’ve failed at life — as if they’ll never graduate or land a well-paying job. But this simply isn’t true.

Fast forward two years later, and I’m successfully finishing my Writing Studies degree at UW Tacoma. From copy editing and technical writing to journalism, I have researched a pleth­ora of opportunities to utilize my de­gree after graduation.

Despite the stigma, adjusting one’s major is quite common. In fact, The US Department of Education estimates 30 percent of students change their major in the first three years of college. Myri­ads of these students who make the bold choice of following their true calling will lead happier lives because of it.

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If you are considering making the big switch, review these tips:

PASSION + STRENGTH = HAPPINESS

Be it, a graduation ceremony or Ted Talk, I’m sure most of us have heard the “follow your passion” pep talk — and it’s true. Passion is the driving force which compels us to achieve our goals. When choosing a major, one should choose a field they are passionate about. However, please note that following your passion does not mean giving up each time you are faced with a chal­lenge or roadblock. To achieve happi­ness and sustainability, it is also impor­tant to know your strengths. Otherwise, you might end up paying for classes that will continually frustrate you or stuck in a job you resent.

TALK WITH YOUR ACADEMIC ADVISOR

For some, the decision to change one’s major might be complex. For ex­ample, your graduation date or financ­es may be affected. However, don’t let this nerve you. UWT is equipped with several academic advisors who are dedicated to helping you sort things out. Schedule an appointment with your advisor to discuss questions or concerns about your current course or academic progress. M ake sure to schedule as soon as possible as appoint­ments fill up fast. Once you set up your appointment, an advisor will be able to help you devise an academic plan for your major, give advice about reg­istration as well as relieve you of stress.

EXPLORE

As the saying goes, “Don’t knock it until you try it.” One way to determine your compatibility with your current major or career is to gain experience. Apply for an internship or conduct an informational interview with someone working in the area that interests you. You’ll either gain experience that will help you prepare for that career, or learn it isn’t the right choice for you. Not sure what you are interested in? Try taking a class outside of your ma­jor next quarter. You’ll be surprised at the things you will learn — not only in the classroom, but about yourself.

ILLUSTRATION BY BRUNO MARQUEZ