A Change of Heart (and Major)

Many students jump into college with a major declared and the intent to keep it throughout their college experience. This is unsurprising when you consider how students are strongly encouraged to find their future career early on. In high school, it is engrained into students that they should participate in numerous extra-curricular activities and be sure of what career they’d like to pursue. Because of this mentality, high school students tend to spread themselves thin with a multitude of activities to add to their college applications and can become quite narrow-minded when considering future professions.

I arrived at Belmont University as a nursing major and was absolutely sure that I wanted to be a nurse. Then, the spring semester of my sophomore year came around, and I had a change of heart. I’m more passionate about caring for people in ways that are not physical. So, this began my self-exploration and also my major-exploration.

Terrified of not knowing what I wanted to do with my life, I ventured to the GPS Office on campus at the end of the spring semester. I was hopeful that they could help direct me towards my purpose and ultimately, the right major. This article is not about my journey to the right major or how to find the perfect major for you. Instead, I want to share what I’ve learned throughout my experience.

There is a negative stigma that surrounds changing your major in college. However, changing your major means that you are growing and learning more about yourself. Another aspect of changing your major is opening up the possibility for a happier life. Do what you love and love what you do. People say this all the time, but this statement changed everything for me. I realized the importance of studying something that I was truly passionate about. If you force yourself to stay put in one major throughout college despite that area not being the best fit, you may end up working in a job that doesn’t bring you happiness or a sense of purpose.

When I was a nursing major, I felt really excited about my future career but felt disconnected in a number of my nursing courses. This was the first red flag that led me to question my future in nursing. Later on, I had to write an essay in one of my classes about how I see myself in the nursing field and had a difficult time with the assignment. That essay was ultimately what prompted me to consider other areas. If I couldn’t really see myself as a nurse, then it was time to search for a better fit.

Many students have that gut feeling or second thoughts about their major soon after taking major-related classes. Don’t ignore these feelings because they might not go away! Also, it is much more productive to think about changing your major sooner rather than later. As the semesters pass by, it will become more and more difficult to work out. If you’re miserable in your major-related classes or are really struggling in them academically, maybe think about whether that major is right for you.

If this sparked a mid-college crisis or made you feel panicked, fear not. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, approximately 80% of students in the United States change their major at least once in college. However, as normal as it is to change the direction you’d like to go in, I recognize how scary this big change can be. The few months I spent trying to find the right fit for me were some of the toughest of my college experience. With so much pressure to commit to your major, it is easy to forget that college is the time to explore. Use this time wisely and discover your interest and passions. Most importantly, don’t give up and force yourself to stay in a major that you’re unhappy in. Put your purpose and happiness at the forefront of your life choices, including your career.

Pictures by Chibird, Wifflegif and Bruce Mars