Rutgers advisor gives insight on switching majors
Eighty percent of students in the country change their major at least once during their college career, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Melissa Amaral, a School of Arts and Sciences academic advisor, explained the reasons why students change their major, and gave advice for students planning to.
“Students may feel influence or pressure to pursue a particular major from parents, friends or general messages from the media, but then realize it is not a good fit for their interests, values or skills,” she said.
Another common reason that students switch majors is not understanding the requirements of the major, or their expectations of the field not matching with reality. Amaral said that sometimes students repeatedly fail a course, struggling to meet the requirements of the major. Finally, students may find that they are simply unhappy in the major, thus pursuing something that better fits their interests and goals.
For students planning on switching majors, understanding its requirements is essential.
“Consider the classes you have enjoyed in the past. What classes might you enjoy in the future? Look at potential majors and narrow down your choices by considering which has the most appealing classes to you. Also consider any prerequisite requirements and how long it will take to get through the program,” Amaral said.
Students should meet with an academic advisor to discuss their academic plans in order to clarify major requirements and how they align with their goals. For the most part, students care more about the career implications of their major than necessary. Experience, in the form of internships and jobs, is more important than one’s major, Amaral said.
“Rather than worrying about finding the 'right' major that leads to the 'right' career, focus on gaining transferable skills such as oral and written communication, analyzing data, problem solving and leadership skills. These transferable skills can be developed in any major and is one of the primary purposes of the (SAS) Core Curriculum at Rutgers,” she said.
Cecil Osborne, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said they came into college as a cell biology and neuroscience major, and now are double-majoring in political science and cognitive science.
“In my case, I realized that although I'm really interested in science, I couldn't see myself doing such an intense major and I needed something more interdisciplinary. I also needed a major that was better for my career goals. I would say switch sooner rather than later,” Osborne said.