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Don’t do what I did. And switch majors with less stress!

Let me first be very straightforward with you: Changing majors, changing the course of your life is totally okay.

No matter how deep you are into a specific field of study or major, don’t be afraid to have a change of heart and go after something that you recently or for a while have been passionate about. But let me tell you it won’t be a simple walk in the park.

In my experience, I went through trial and error, trying to figure out how to switch my major and consequently add a minor. It was not a fun time. The Summer before my Freshman year of college, amidst a pandemic, I woke up one day and told myself “I do NOT want to major in Medical Technology.” Now, this wasn’t a spontaneous or spur-of-the-moment type of feeling, but simply put, I finally came to terms with myself I wasn’t going to find my purpose as a Medical Technician (sorry mom and dad).

But it was soon later that my parents were in total support of my decision (thank goodness). That was the easy part. After that ― reality hit. l had no classes registered, no idea of what major I was going to switch to, and school was starting in less then a month and a half.

All I could do now is to figure it out and to “get it together!” 

The first steps were always the most tedious and definitely most stressful, but so that you don’t have to go through that, I found that knowing where to go and who to go to will save you a lot of time and money.

Do Research And Contact Your Academic Advisor

To first find a major, I went to UH Manoa’s Catalog and did my research! There are a lot of majors that UH Manoa offers and picking one that aligned with my interests and career path was more challenging than I thought it would be. Though, once that was decided, I made sure to call or email my advisor as soon as possible to discuss the next steps to declare my new major.

Tip: Be sure to let them know why you’re switching majors. They might have helpful resources or options for you to take toward your interests and passions. If you don’t have a major and are ‘undecided/undeclared,’ jump straight to the advisor of which college/department coincides with your intended major.

Get Paperwork & Any Supplemental Documents TURNED IN

This might have been common sense, but I did not know that there would be paperwork involved. I was stressed and I learned very quickly that even though electronic documents are quick to complete, sign, and send, it felt as if I used snail mail.

Tip: Make sure to fill out any paperwork as soon as you get it. Put into consideration the time it will take for processing and handling because trust me, this will save you some stress and worry.

Update Your Financial Information

By the time I had the first couple of steps fulfilled, I forgot the one thing that I thought was the least of my worries ― my finances. It turned out that I was overdue on canceling my housing plan (since all my new courses were moved online) and had to pay a late fee. I could have definitely saved a couple textbooks worth of money, but now I know and so do you.

Tip: Checkup on your financial aid or tuition expenses that could have changed due to registering for other/new classes, housing, and more.

And boom! By the end of these steps, I was able to (very closely) make it in time to start my semester successfully, declaring my new major as Public Health. Nevertheless, these steps are subjected to be flipped around, have sub-steps, and in some situations you might be in for a long waiting game. 

But don't freak out! All of this is totally normal and in the end, the second-guessing, stress, and research that you do will all be worth it. Go bows!

Aubrey is a second-year student majoring in Public Health and pursuing a minor in Biology at UH Manoa. Being born and raised on the island of Maui, Hawaii, she aspires to help others, focusing on community outreach and underrepresented minority health. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, journaling, and going on picnics/watching films with family and friends.
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