Normalizing Changing Majors & Taking Your Time With School
In my first year and a half of university, I was completing a science degree. Growing up, I felt socially and culturally pressured to satisfy the needs of others and place my happiness second. My degree choice was one of them. I saw that the majority of the people around me, including my high school friends, relatives, and family-friends, wanted to pursue STEM-related degrees. Familial biases also came into play so I gave in and decided to pursue sciences, without even questioning what my interests and goals were. Long story, short: I did horrible and my grades were tanking semester by semester. I wasn’t enjoying any of my classes and I had no image or goals of what I was going to do with my degree, where it would take me, or what I would do career-wise. I was lost and scared, and I was way too depressed to even attend school.
However, I did learn valuable things whilst taking classes in the sciences and I didn’t want any of that information to go to waste. So I decided to do some research myself to see what degree would best fit me and my interests. I took an introductory criminology class and found the theories I learnt to be super interesting and I wanted to learn more. I would find listening to true crime, mysterious phenomenons and investigations as a hobby where I would always devise my own theories to put puzzle pieces together. I started to watch forensic documentaries and found it very intriguing, so I decided to switch to a criminology & psychology joint major, with a forensics certificate.
After expressing my interest to switch majors to family and friends, I initially received resistance. I listened to statements like: “It’s going to take too long”, “what are you going to do with this degree?”, “you’re going to stay in school longer?”, “will you find a job after?”. My intentions are to stay in the field of academia after my undergraduate degree, but the main thing was that I genuinely feel interested in this field. I went ahead and switched majors without hesitation and I can confidently say, I’ve never enjoyed school as much as I do now. I’m so happy with my choice, I enjoy what I’m learning, and I look forward to my classes. My mental health has improved because of this change and I’ve met so many amazing TA’s, classmates, and professors along the way that have supported me and have helped me with this journey.
I initially felt bummed that I wasted one and a half years of university in a field that I wasn’t interested in, but this is what university is all about. It’s about exploring your choices and figuring out your interests. Education doesn’t have a time limit and nobody should be ashamed for taking “longer” to finish school. I feel that society has labelled an undergraduate degree as a stable and solid ‘four year program’ which pressures students to finish within a timeline. However, in reality, a timeline doesn’t really exist within receiving education. Take your time, figure out your goals and interests, and connect with people! Talking to others who are in your position helped me see their perspectives on how to move forward and build a constructive plan.
If you are in my position, my advice to you is: do what makes you happy and feel engaged. Don’t abide by societal norms that tell you to finish school by a certain deadline, or to figure out your career and everything right after high school. Take your time in exploring your options and do research on what intrigues YOU. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others for assistance and guidance, bringing in other perspectives can help you see things with a clearer lens. And just remember: everything will be okay and you will figure it out. Changing majors and taking longer in school is not the end of the world, it’s just the beginning of a beautiful chapter.