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When Is It Too Late To Change Your Major?

Is your college student thinking about changing their major? If so, they aren’t alone!

Between 70-80% of students change majors in the course of their college career. However, many students and their families wonder “When is it too late to change your major?”.

The answer to this depends on their unique situation, such as what year of school they’re currently in, the specific major they chose, and more. If your college student is stuck between switching majors or staying put, here are a few factors they should consider to help them make the best decision possible.

While it may be too late for some students to change their college major due to financial limits or additional constraints, other students may still have time.

When Is It Too Late To Change Your Major? Factors To Consider Before Making The Switch.

Time Equals Money: Does Changing Your Major Affect Financial Aid?

Depending on your student’s year in school, a change in major could be easy or cause for an unwanted extended stay in college. As many classes in the first years of college are general education classes, a freshman or sophomore major change can be more feasible than a second-semester junior year jump.

If your student makes a change that late, they risk graduating on time. Why does that matter?

Graduating in 4 years is ideal as a 5th or 6th year of school may not be funded at the same level, leaving your student with possible mounting debt. 

Direct Admit Is Harder To Quit

Your child was accepted into a highly selective engineering program as a freshman! Great, but now they don’t like engineering, so what should they do? 

Some competitive majors offer an opportunity for your student to have a guaranteed spot in their major through direct admit admissions. Majors like business, nursing, and engineering often have students scrambling for spots because of their popularity and competitiveness.

Although it’s exciting to have that spot, this type of admissions status can make a change in major more difficult. Students in this situation will need to review their college’s policies on major change, have an extended conversation with their academic advisors and review their course sequence before attempting to change to a new option. They may even be required to reapply to the university for stricter colleges.

Major Change Loading

After thinking through these challenges, if a major change is still the best option, check out these quick hacks for a better outcome.

  • Talk to everyone! Your student should talk to their academic advisor to review how a major change will affect their time and finances. They can also visit the career center to research options, as well as set themselves up with internships or other exploratory choices to make a well-researched switch.
  • Consider parallel majors. Your student can look to majors with similar course sequences and requirements. This should help them cut down the time in school and amount of new courses needed.
  • If at all possible, try before you buy! Before your child enters college, ensure they have access to rich career exploration opportunities. They can request informational interviews, do site visits, attend career-based field trips, or choose summer pre-college programs in their possible major to really get a feel for the real day to day of a job.
  • Look for colleges that offer a liberal arts experience with several exploratory classes.
  • Look for colleges that are less rigid about major changes.

A change in major isn’t unusual but it could seem daunting if it will add years and debt to your child’s life. Ultimately, recent research has shown that students who change majors in a timely manner actually have a stronger graduation rate than those who commit freshman year and never change.

This could be due to your student having time to explore and mature while in school. Although we as humans don’t love change, it’s a constant force in our lives.

If your student is following their passions and interests, then a change can be good!

Is Your College Student Undecided About Their Major?

Almost as common as switching majors, many students enter college with an undecided major. If this is the case for your student, then we encourage you to read our guide on what to do if your student is undecided about their college major.

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Has My College Planning Team helped you or your student with financial aid planning or academic services? If so, we would greatly appreciate your honest review on Google!

Kate Kaushal has been a professional high school counselor in the Chicago Public School system since 2011 and has played many roles including: senior academic and social emotional counselor, post secondary counselor, head of counseling, ACT test coordinator, CPS selective enrollment test proctor and master counselor for the district.

She received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Saint Xavier University and a Master’s in School Counseling from Roosevelt University. Prior to 2011, she worked in various positions in social service, including a partner organization to DCFS, a group home for young men, and an experiential outdoor education camp for at-risk youth in North Carolina.

At Phillips Academy in Bronzeville, she started as the Junior counselor and then moved into the post-secondary arena where she found her passion. She believes in holistically working with students and prides herself in her ability to match students with resources, especially scholarship opportunities and enrichment programs. In her years as a postsecondary counselor, she drastically increased the amount of scholarships (from 500,000 in 2015 to over 15 million in 2019) earned by the graduating classes and received a Data Impact award from Chicago Public Schools. She was also a final nominee for College and Career Counselor of the year in 2018 and has presented at multiple CPS School Counselor professional development events.

Kate is a lifelong learner and is excited to join the My College Planning Team to help families find the best holistic college fit for their child and the most scholarship money possible to offset their educational costs. Kate also has a knack for matching families to the resources they need, including alternate options like trade or gap year programs. Outside of work, she enjoys running, yoga, event planning and spending time with her 2 young children.

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