To Change or Not to Change: Gabriella Messina’s Advice on Changing Majors

With many students pressured to choose a major before entering their freshman year of college, there are often times instances when their intended major just doesn’t work out. Sophomore Gabriella Messina started her freshman year at Marist College studying Biomedical Sciences. Transferring her sophomore year to Boston University, she realized that the pre-medical track wasn’t a good fit and switched to English. She shares her experience with changing majors, stigmatisms, and advice for those who want to do the same.

Q: What major did you change from and why did you decide to change it?

A: I started out with a declared major in Biomedical Sciences, which is Marist College’s Pre-Med path. I ultimately decided to change because I couldn’t handle the pressures of the major. Ironically, I became physically unwell. I wasn’t eating or sleeping, and all I did was study. Once I almost got locked in the library because I was there too long and I didn’t notice that it was almost closing time.

Q: Was there any challenges you faced in the process of changing majors?

A: Not really, but it was much easier to do so at Marist. All I did was fill out a paper. What was nice was that my biology lab and lecture fulfilled the science lecture and lab requirement at Marist, but didn’t transfer over to BU. So in that sense, I wasted a class and time, which is stressful and annoying.

Q: Was it easy changing between different colleges? (i.e. CAS to COM)

A: It was easy. I just filled out a form and had two deans sign it.

Q: How was it specifically changing from a science major to liberal arts?

A: I had planned on med school for about three years before going to college. I’d shadowed doctors and created a life plan based on how long my undergrad, med-school, and residency would take. It was really, really difficult to suddenly have nothing. No plan, no direction. The hardest part was saying out loud that I wasn’t going to medical school. It took me months to be able to say that to myself and frankly, I still have a hard time admitting it. It was a part of my life for so long, and suddenly that plan was completely abandoned.

Q: Do you think there’s a stigma behind changing majors?

A: Absolutely. Especially switching out of science. Pre-Med is an entity of itself. It’s completely consuming and is a lifestyle. When you’re in that major and you’re surrounded by all these other pre-med students, it’s scary to admit that this might not be for you. It’s an extremely competitive and judgmental major. When there are so many applicants for med school and so few spots open, it encourages the students to be really cutthroat. And when you switch out of the major, you’re suddenly looked down upon by these people who used to be your peers. It kind of sounds like you’re weak or you couldn’t handle it, or the most popular: you weren’t smart enough. That judgment can be really hard to deal with, I’m not going to lie, but the worst was how I judged myself.

Q: Any advice for the people who want to change their majors?

A: Do it. Yes, it’s scary to start fresh, but it’s worse to force yourself to do something that you don’t like and aren’t enjoying. I love my major now. I don’t have any of the anxieties or stresses that I had when I was Pre-Med and I’m physically doing much better. Sometimes it’s hard to determine if switching majors is really what you want to do, but ultimately, college is a place for you to explore and find yourself. Take different classes and try new things. These are all ways that will lead you to gain a better understanding of yourself and what you really want to do.

 

If you are feeling similar uncertainties about your major, consider looking into other programs offered. Though you may face some challenges along the way, you will ultimately find something that better suits you and gain an overall better understanding of yourself along the way.

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