By Dixie Somers
The value of any college degree is incredible, but first you must choose a specialization and major to focus on. Many college students change their majors at some point in time during their academic careers. In many cases, this is not a problem, but in others, the change may set you back a significant amount and require you to take more schooling than you planned. Here are five keys to changing majors without getting behind schedule.
1. Plan Ahead
The single best thing you can do to avoid getting yourself into a pinch is to have planned ahead. Don't procrastinate with declaring your major and put some serious thought into planning what you want to do for a career. Exploration of subjects is necessary, but make changes quickly when you realize an area of study isn't right for you or another one is better suited to you.
2. Take Extra Classes
Most schools do allow you to load up on extra classes, but occasionally you will be required to get permission. Go through the process of obtaining permission and take those extra classes at regular intervals to lessen your load. If your class schedule for the next semester simply wasn't going to be full when you decided to change, it should be pretty easy to pick up another class come registration time.
3. Make Every Course You've Taken Count
Before making the decision to switch, see if any courses you have already taken, whether as an elective or for your previous major, can count towards your new one. For example, if you have taken some history classes as part of an Asian studies major and then switched over to a history major, those credits should count towards your new history major. Even some high school courses or classes taken at other universities might count.
4. Take Online Courses
If your new major’s schedule isn’t what you planned on and clashes with your work or vacation schedule, you can try taking online courses for credit at your leisure. Make sure the credits will transfer and count before you enroll in any program. If you have the motivation, you could even earn an entire extra degree, like a healthcare administration masters degree online, if you have the money and the time and really can't bring yourself to choose.
5. Talk to Your Adviser
If you're unsure if you can make it work or want specialized advice to your situation (as everyone's situation is going to be just a little bit different), make an appointment and talk to your academic adviser. He or she should be able to tweak your schedule to make it work or offer suggestions you might not have thought of on your own.
Deciding to change your major is a big decision and can be very stressful, especially if you're doing it rather late in the game and don't want to tack on extra semesters. The tips mentioned above can help you avoid getting behind schedule while still being able to get the major you really want.
Dixie Somers is a freelance writer. Find Dixie on Facebook.