Major Changes
Jenna Morrison, Division 3, College freshman #ws18e-s3d3

In colleges, students are constantly changing their majors. An article by Doug Lederman, editor and one of the founders of Inside Editor Ed, states, “Almost a third of first-time college students choose a major and then change it at least once within three years...” (Lederman, 2017). Many students even change more than just once. Some majors have more tendencies to change than others. What many may blame solely on student’s indecision, is partially due to a flawed system. Now there are a couple reasons why students change their majors so often.

One reason is that there is a substantial amount of pressure on high school graduates to pick a major. Gayle B. Ronan from NBC says, “Eighty percent of college-bound students have yet to choose a major, according to Dr. Fritz Grupe, founder of MyMajors.com. But they are still expected to pick schools, apply to and start degree programs without knowing where they want to end up” (Ronan, 2005). Now while this is tough for freshmen in general, the pressure is doubled for high credit students. Many freshmen students coming in who have done programs such as Running Start or taken AP classes in high school already have many or all of their GURs done. Now these high credit freshmen coming in are then forced to immediately choose a major since they cannot waste any time taking mandatory GURs like other freshmen.These high credit students often end up choosing a major that they think that they might like, but aren’t sure. As they continue on through the mandatory classes however, they decide they don’t like it after all and thus end up switching. The same goes for their new major they switch to and so on until they find one with which they are content. Now this is just a waste of time and money for these students. Collegedata states that “In its most recent survey of college pricing, the College Board reports that a moderate college budget for an in-state public college for the 2017–2018 academic year averaged $25,290” (Collegedata). Many students cannot afford to pay the exorbitant prices for all the classes they take and so end up with high interest loans just so that they can find a career with which they will be happy. It is, in the words of our Declaration of Independence, the pursuit of happiness. This pursuit of happiness however is driving the future working Americans into the poor house. It also puts a lot of pressure on them to get good paying job once they graduate. Not only is it detrimental to the students in these ways but it is also detrimental to the school since these students are taking up spots that could be for other students already in the major who know they want to be there. Much of this havoc could be avoided with the right solution.

Another reason why students often end up switching their majors is because of some of the highly selective majors. Students may think they want to be, for example, a graphic designer, but they only really know if they like it until after they get in. Majors such as these often don’t allow for non-major students to take sample classes. Because of this, there is no way for aspiring students to confirm if they really like that career path. By the time they get in, or if they get in at all, they’ve already wasted quite a lot of their money taking other classes that they don’t really need just to buy their time as they work on trying to get into the major. Then of course once they get into the major, they realize that it wasn’t something they wanted after all.

There are a couple ways to help fix this dilemma; the one I shall focus on however, is that of early exploration. One way to do this would be to offer more hands on classes and opportunities to allow students to really grasp what certain jobs of interest would be like. Essentially the idea is to offer early internships to younger students. Traditionally internships are something that students do as they near graduation. Jonathan Jones, Head of Investment Talent Development at Point72 Asset Management, talks about the main idea of internships. He says, “Most talent-driven, high-quality organizations use an internship program as a strategic talent pipeline - a way of identifying and vetting prospective candidates for entry level professional positions” (Jones, 2017). While this is an excellent way for companies and graduating students to see if that particular person or company is the right fit for them, I think that we can bring this idea forward by broadening its participants. By tweaking this time tested process, we could make it compatible for younger students as well. Early apprenticeship programs would be perfect for young students, as they would be able to know right off if they liked that sort of career path. They wouldn’t be forced to go through a major before being able to experience that field of work. This sort of program would also be helpful for students who want to gain experience to help them get into selective majors. Colleges and even high schools would partner with companies to give opportunities to young students, so that they can have the freedom to explore. Young people would then be able to discover their interests and strengths in a hands-on learning format.

Another way to foster career and major exploration is allowing students to take classes within their prospective majors, even the selective ones. I understand that it is important to keep major classes open and specific to those within the major so that they can graduate on time, however I think that there should be at least a couple of classes that are open to everyone. This would help students to determine if that direction is right for them.

By implementing these solutions, we shall take the needed steps forward to improving this problem. Concepts such as that of internships shouldn’t stay stagnant when they have the ability to evolve and change to fit a broader audience of needs. Afterall, improvement starts with being willing to change. It is only when we step outside the confines of tradition that we can accomplish developing ideas into the betterment of a system, such as our current college experience. By providing a system that allows for early exploration for students to find their passion, there will more students who end up happy in their careers and life.

Works Cited:

Ronan, G. B. (2005, November 29). College freshmen face a major dilemma. Retrieved
September 17, 2018, from http://www.nbcnews.com/id/10154383/print/1/displaymode/1098/

Jones, J. (2017, November 13). How Valuable Are Internships To College Students' Future Careers? Retrieved September 17, 2018, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2017/11/13/how-valuable-are-internships-to-college-students-future-careers/#9fdfe281b14c

Lederman, D. (2017, December 8). Who Changes Majors? (Not Who You Think).
Retrieved September 13, 2018, from https://www.insidehighered.com/users/doug-lederman

What's the Price Tag for a College Education? (n.d.). Retrieved September 17, 2018,
from https://www.collegedata.com/cs/content/content_payarticle_tmpl.jhtml?articleId=10064
Shared publicly