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I’ve Switched My Major Three Times and That Is Totally Okay

There is a lot of pressure put on us when we are 17. You are balancing academics, clubs, extracurriculars, friends and relationships all while deciding what you want to do for the next 50 years, where you want to live and where you see your life going.

When I was 17 and applying to colleges, I’ll be honest and say I had absolutely no clue what I wanted, and I am sure that is the dilemma so many of us were faced with. 

How are you supposed to know who you’re going to be at 17? Unless you are one of the lucky ones who found their passions at a young age, then the question on college applications of “intended major?” becomes a huge struggle. 

photo via @ucla

When I was faced with this question, I froze. I scrolled past every major in the book from agricultural science all the way to zoology, researching what I would be interested in and what I could see myself doing. Needless to say, I ended the process feeling more lost than I did before. It was the overwhelming feeling of choice. When you have too many, it intensifies the pressure of the situation ten-fold. How do you pick the right one?

Well, spoiler alert, I didn’t choose the right one. And then I chose the wrong one again. And maybe I will one more time, but I’ve realized it is 100% okay. Because like I’ve said, how are you supposed to know who you want to be at 17?

So, when I did fill out the “intended major?” question, I went with the most ambiguous option: undeclared. Oddly enough, this option came with a lot of shame. I had friends applying as biology majors on the pre-med track, computer engineering and political science. I felt clueless. It can be really intimidating when it feels like everyone around you has a plan except for you. As a sophomore now, I’ve realized that was not the case at all. About 90% of the people I know have switched their majors at some point. They’ve had a change of heart or realized a deeper passion they had. It is about time we normalized switching our majors.

Going in undeclared is a scary thing because the pressure to find a major that’s right for you is so much higher. You start the process of trial and error. My first trial was business economics. In high school, economics was a subject that came naturally to me. Supply and demand graphs clicked in my mind and it seemed like an interesting career to pursue.

photo via @ucla

And despite seeing how cutthroat the major was during freshman orientation (where they told me that I shouldn’t expect to do well because even though I was in the top five percent of my high school, I’m going against the top five percent at every school), I continued on and began taking the classes. I realized pretty quickly that even though I understood the concepts, this might not be the career path for me. I wasn’t interested in banking or finance and I did not see myself working a nine to five in accounting, so by the end of Winter quarter, I was ready for my second switch. 

I had always had an intuitive nature for emotions and feelings because I dealt with mental health concerns growing up. I cared about understanding why we feel the way that we do and how I could help other people with understanding this, so I turned to psychology. It seemed like a perfect fit. The classes were subjects that I cared about and I even considered a pre-med path.

And while this worked, it had a fatal flaw, which was that by becoming pre-med, it left no room in my schedule to pursue my other passions. With whatever major I decided on, I knew I wanted to double major in communications. I had always pictured myself one day living in a major city, working in the media in one way or another, and writing has been my outlet my entire life, so to pick pre-med, a very rigorous and set path, I would have to leave this idea behind. 

With the pre-med path off of the table, I continued to pursue my psych degree as well as communications, yet I still wanted to try more. By my sophomore year, I knew the time was coming where I needed to make the hardest decision so I could begin taking upper divisions. There was one other field that interested me, but it seemed unattainable because all my classes so far did not match up with the major requirements: computer science. Silly as it may sound, I loved messing around with the programming in RStudio in my Stats 10 class. I wanted to do more of it, but really had no clue how or what I could take that would keep me on track to graduate. 

I remembered a conversation I had with a friend about her major, cognitive science. Upon further inspection, I saw that it was eerily similar to the psychology major, except there was an emphasis on coding. It was a perfect match. With the cognitive science major, not only are you learning about psychology, but you have the option to specialize in coding. And so, once again, I switched my major.

Now I am currently on the track to double majoring in cognitive science and communications with a specialization in computing and I feel more secure about my major choices and my future than ever before. I’ve rekindled my love of learning and am actually excited as I do my assignments. 

video via @ucla

I’m sharing this story because I am sure that someone reading this may have questioned their career path in one way or another and it can be a daunting feeling. The point of college is to try these new things and learn about subjects that interest you. It’s the time to branch out and see what clicks and what doesn’t. It is normal to not get things right on the first try which is why it is so important to break the stigma on switching majors. It doesn’t matter if you graduate a quarter early or a quarter late as long as you are confident in your decision!

So, if you are considering taking a different path, give it a go! You can always switch back to what you were doing before, but don’t be filled with regret later in life because you didn’t take the risk. Life has a way of working itself out, and although college is a time of immense pressure, it will always be worth it in the end.

Hi :) My name is Jade and I am a second year at UCLA! I am a double major in communications and cognitive science and I am super excited to be apart of Her Campus
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