Thursday, February 21, 2013

College Blog: Major Changes

Posted By on Thu, Feb 21, 2013 at 3:14 PM

What you intend to major in is an important factor when deciding on a college.

You wouldn't go to an art school to major in mechanical engineering. Nor would a tech school be your first choice for a degree in art and architecture of the early to mid-French Revolution.

That said, many students pick their major, go to their school of choice, and discover that they've made a terrible mistake and regret ever thinking they could base their life around that choice. And I was one of these students.

When I first came to RIT, I was majoring in physics. Bright-eyed and innocent, I was just coming off of high school algebra-based physics with a teacher who made science fun. I had no idea what was coming. That was when I looked at my first quarter classes, among which was “Introduction to Special Relativity,” a look at how physics gets all wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey around the speed of light.

A little red light should have gone off in my head at that point, but I stuck it out. In fact, that sentence pretty much sums up my entire first year at RIT. I continuously forced myself to try to adapt, but I just never fit into physics the way I would have liked. So in the spring, I finally folded and switched into the journalism program. And I've never looked back.

When it comes down to it, it's not right to expect high school students to know exactly what they want to do with their lives, and that's why the possibility to switch majors exists. Now, this does have its drawbacks. If you switch too late in your academic career, you may need to spend more time at school to meet all the requirements of your new major, which translates into more loans and more crippling debt.

On top of that, your school might not offer a program you really want to switch into. If an engineering major decides they'd really rather pursue their longing to be a writer, their school might have a poor or non-existent liberal arts department. It might require transferring to another university entirely, which is its own flavor of headache. There are a number of perils, and not everyone can consider switching majors a back-up plan, nor should they. But it's nice to know that the option exists in some form or another for those who really need it.

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