When senior Business majors visit academic adviser Joy Petrie, she often asks, “If you could do things over, would you change your major?”
Some students come to Vanguard with their exact career paths, class schedules and course outlines ready to go. However, for some the initial years of college are a time of undeclared majors and a desire to look into numerous subjects.
In the interest of time and money, it is a question in the back of students’ minds how changing majors over and over, and sometimes very late in the game, affects their success as well as their pocketbooks.
It can be difficult to change majors after the freshmen or sophomore year. But advisers from different departments agreed it was possible, if students were willing to work hard. Students have also found that changing majors was not as painful as they might have thought.
“Changing from a Business major to a Sociology major was a big change, but after I took an Intro to Sociology class, I knew that I wanted to switch. It was pretty early on so the process was not that bad and it was definitely worth it,” said senior Brittney Riley, who is graduating a year early despite the change.
Music students find themselves in a bit of a bind since a large amount of units required are one-unit classes, like private instruction and recital attendance. Changing from a Music major to another major can be challenging but Dr. Suzanne Reid, Associate Chair of the Music Department, assures that it can be done.
“We try and be flexible with our students and help them get where they need to go. It is our main focus to get students prepared for whatever field they want to go into, and we will walk step by step with their classes until they get there,” Reid said.
Other departments, including the English department, have a significantly lower number of units required in both core and upper division, so students do not have as much trouble with changing majors since they would have taken mostly core classes until their junior years.
Petrie, along with most academic advisers, agrees that students must approach changing majors realistically and understand that the further they are along in their chosen major the harder it will be to graduate in four years.
Financially, a concern that students should take into consideration is that if they are required to take over 18 units to catch up, the cost per unit over 18 is $549. Also, if summer school is required, each unit is $310. These prices are in addition to regular undergraduate tuition.
Students changing majors should be prepared to spend some time in summer school to catch up on general units, but fortunately most departments are willing to be flexible with lower division courses that could cross over from major to major.