Normalizing the Norm of Changing College Majors - The University of Tulsa

Normalizing the Norm of Changing College Majors

It is a question everyone is asked from the time they are five years old, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Common answers from a five-year-old are an astronaut, firefighter, lawyer, doctor, or something along those lines.  

By the time a 17 to 18-year-old student reaches college, their idea of a major or career has likely changed. Some students enter college with an idea of what degree path they want to pursue, while others are undecided. My response to that is that it is perfectly normal! College is a time for students to investigate opportunities and explore new interests.   

As a practical matter, about 80% of students in college end up changing their major at least once, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. On average, college students change their major at least three times over the course of their college career. 

Is Switching Majors a Bad Thing? 

Contrary to popular belief, switching college majors can actually increase a student’s likelihood of graduating from college, according to a new study from the EAB. Students who seek out resources on campus such as the university’s career services office or mentors have an 83% graduation rate when finalizing their major between their second and eighth semesters, whereas those who finalize their major in the first semester have a 79% graduation rate. 

As a freshman student, many years ago, I initially declared a double major in Political Science and French. I had spent my junior year in high school living abroad and was convinced that I was going to work for the United Nations. While I loved my French classes, I did not love my Comparative Politics course. It was not for me. That was the first of three additional major changes in my undergraduate career before I finally landed in my first professional career. My takeaway from that experience was that I was focusing on “just getting a degree” instead of where I wanted to make an impact and what I truly wanted to do as a profession.  I encourage you to focus on your endgame goal, and our certified career coaches are here to help you do just that.  

What Can CaneCareers Do for You? 

We help students and alumni explore career options, develop professional skills, gain practical experience, and build connections in the TU community.  In addition to individual support provided including career assessment tools, resume and cover letter review, interview preparation, and job search strategies, the career coaches host a wide variety of programming and networking events on careerrelated topics. 

CaneCareers is here to assist you throughout your entire time at TU. If you find yourself questioning your chosen path, come visit with us. We have tools and resources to help you work through your decisions. The important thing to remember is that a significant number of students will change their major. There is no reason to stress about it as it is a normal part of a college journey. Enjoy your experience, explorelearn, and walk away with a degree and career you love.