4 Serious Things No One Told Me Changing Majors Would Entail

4 Serious Things No One Told Me Changing Majors Would Entail

It's no longer a "fresh start" when you're nearly done with freshman year and ready to switch majors...

Inevitably, at one point or another, you will switch majors in college. In fact, according to one study, at least 50 to 70 percent of students change majors at least once when pursuing a bachelor's, so on average, at least three times before the graduation! Like many others, I went into university determined to stick to the major I had spent hours mulling over. But soon enough, two semesters into my first year, I already had to change my major. And as I later found out, changing my major impacted a lot more than just the classes I would take...

1. The list of majors you can pursue shortens considerably, based on each major's credit requirements and your financial constraints.

My first major, computer science, was selected after I succumbed to encouragement (AKA peer pressure) from friends and family to pursue a lucrative, money-making degree. But after facing the onslaught of college level calculus and chemistry fresh out of high school, my resolve crumbled mid second semester.

I decided to follow my heart (at least for my associate's degree) and consulted a counselor about switching over to journalism. My counselor just nodded, gave me the print-out version of the online form and that was it. But as it turns out, had I gone along with my counselor's nonchalant attitude and switched over without a second thought, it would have delayed my graduation by at least a year's worth of classes. My college's journalism major track required at least two semesters of foreign language, over five other general ed courses and then another five classes for my area of study.

I was able to avoid making that switch-over mistake and costing myself another year of financial drama and missing credits by this special program: Degree Works — an online checklist of all the classes I needed to complete for whatever selected major. DegreeWorks also shows you what classes would carry over and what you would need to take if you were to switch majors. This played a vital role in my decision to switch, because as I soon realized I'd have to spend at least eight months or more than usual to obtain an associate's in journalism, I dropped the major from my list. Instead, I chose my second option: criminal justice, which allowed for all my already completed general ed core classes to be carried over, so I was able to graduate right on time!

Some students may prefer to pursue a specific degree, even if it takes them an extra semester or two to obtain it, and that's totally fine and up to each individual, but understand how many hours and financial aid you will have to commit to obtain the degree. That vital information plays a key role once it's time to make a decision. Some counselors may not be of much assistance when it comes to selecting the right major for you based on personal factors like your financial situation and total number of credits already obtained. That was my case, and by putting in the time to weigh the options myself, I was able to pick a major that suited me financially, interest wise and worked with my time constraints. Even if your college doesn't have DegreeWorks or a similar, helpful program that tracks the classes you've taken and need, comparing degree programs' requirements list can help to narrow down options and select the right major for you.

2. Depending on which college you attend, your degree program may have few to zero extracurriculars and scholarships available.

Each university is a different story, but it's a story you should read through before joining mid-chapter. There are a variety of degree programs available, yet not each program offers extracurricular opportunities, including career fair, company connections or even something as basic as club activities that may be essential to panning out a future for yourself in the workforce after college.

For example, at Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC), the technology department is still new and fairly underdeveloped, with only a dozen or so professors holding lectures versus the numerous professors leading other fields of study. Because the tech programs are still under development, they don't offer many club activities or student associations — something I took for granted going in, since every other well-known college in the area did offer extracurriculars for tech majors. But GGC doesn't. I didn't even learn of this until I attended orientation and spoke with an adviser. The webpage for GGC's school of technology and science doesn't mention it either, but it's definitely something to consider when you're switching majors.

Is it important that your college offers various leadership opportunities and connections in your field of study? Or are you willing to start a few or connect with others on your own, individually?

Another serious matter to research for students in need of financial aid is the list of scholarships every college sends out prior to the beginning of the semester. Georgia State's Perimeter College, for instance, offers several scholarships geared towards English, education, nursing and dental hygienist majors. The college also offers a chunk of their financial awards to incoming freshman and students on specific campuses, but each school has its own pie chart of scholarships, varying slices for a few specific majors.

If you're dependent on financial aid, be sure to check which degrees receive the larger slice of the scholarship pie to factor into the decision-making process. There will obviously be more competition for certain scholarships and majors, so take student bodies (as divided by their majors) into account as well.

3. Your resume skill set list and approach to interviews changes drastically, as do your job prospects.

If you're majoring in something that's sure to land you a company job straight out of college like computers science or information technology (according to... well, practically everyone), then one perk is you can pretty much copy-paste your skills set from Google straight onto your resume, recite the list of programming languages you've learned plus a bit of career experience on the side and boom — hired.

But what about vague majors, like political science, English or even mathematics?

If you obtain a teaching certificate, that's one way to apply your knowledge of the field, but nowadays, many millennials are finding themselves in job positions that appear to the complete opposite of what they majored in. This can sound deflating for sure, as if what you major in doesn't matter at all, but that isn't necessarily the case.

For more abstract degrees, such as political science, you not only learn (the obvious) debate skills but also how to analyze stats to support your argument, broaden your perspective of the world and other cultures, religions and political structures that inhabit it. You master valuable communication and research skills that come into play during team projects, and when applying for management positions, this can prepare you to take leadership roles head-on. It's also vital to support your skill sets with viable experiences — namely, internships, volunteer experience as well as past and present jobs.

Walk your talk.

And with that, you can apply for almost any job — from traveling journalist to banking or other business.

Most importantly, if you genuinely cared about what you learned and can apply those skills, they will come in handy later on, which leads me to my next point...

4. All of your classes are important and matter. Yes, even "women's gender studies" and "underwater basket weaving."

OK, maybe not "underwater basket weaving," but hey, you've got to admit that could certainly come in handy someday. I mean, how many people you know are competing to score a spot in that field? If you're passionate and hardworking, it just may work out!

Many people have made fun of certain classes college requires, and they're understandably frustrated. I mean, as cool as it sounds, what does "street fighting mathematics" have to do with your history major? Besides that weird batch, there are the drier subjects like history from the 1500s, philosophy and physical education — all of which can be a headache to students who just want to study exactly what they're majoring in and be done with school. Paying fees for general ed classes like those can be irritating, especially if you can't see how they are useful to you, specifically.

But guess what? They are.

Shots have been fired, my bretheren.

But before y'all come for me, let me paraphrase quote my 8th grade math teacher:

"Learning a variety of subjects expands your brain, so you learn to use various parts of it. Whatever you choose to major in college or whatever field you want to work in later on, you'll use the underlying skills you learned from all those different classes to solve all the diverse challenges that will pop up in your higher studies, work place and even personal life."

For instance, my first year, I took a sustainable business class as a light burden to round off a 16 credit schedule, but it turned out to be my favorite class of the semester. I had next to no understanding or real interest in how businesses influenced the environment. I understood "environment" and "business" in separate contexts, yet by taking a class that combined the two topics into a transcontinental study of what turned out to be a fascinating, significant subject that affected my life directly, I changed entirely as a person. Now, I make it a point to invest in environmentally friendly products and research whether a business is truly all-natural before purchasing its products. This was not a class I'd ever choose to take on my own time had it not been offered as a college course, nor would I have stumbled upon it myself, but since I was required to take it, I know the basics of business if I'd ever like to start one!

Many people dream of starting a business or owning a shop, yet they seldom take the first steps towards their dream without failing on the first try because they are not understanding it in a proper, learning setting. Reading through "Business for Dummies" will not automatically prepare you, and it probably won't bolster your confidence either, unlike a class with an educated instructor and peers.

This is why understanding why you are learning something is just as important as actually learning it.

If you don't deeply understand the topics enough to explore outside of the controlled box they are presented in, then you are missing out on the opportunity to progress above and beyond the minimum standards you are held to. Don't think of yourself as a yet another student when it comes to studying what you love. It's amazing enough to be given the opportunity to study whatever you choose, so do not take that for granted, and rather, take full advantage of it by envisioning yourself as an explorer in a field that is always developing in leaps and bounds beyond the pages of your textbooks.

No matter what major you switch to, genuinely invest yourself in your studies, and you will prosper and enjoy life. And if you have a hard time accepting that from a college student, then here's a graduate's two cents on what a difference your degree makes, post-grad life.

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How Speed Dating Helped Me In A Class Where I Knew No One

In most classes, the first day (or few days) is mainly for reviewing and studying the syllabus, but clearly my professor had something a little bit more untraditional in mind.

Upon the beginning of a new semester, the start of new classes means there are a lot of new people to meet.

At my university in particular, our community is huge (40,000 undergrad), and we all have had many enormous lecture halls where it is basically impossible to get to know every single person in the room. However, there are certain classes where the amount of students is significantly downsized, and different types of students will have different reactions to this.

When I arrived on my first day of English-15 class (the required English class for every student in attendance at the university), the initial moments were awkward and somewhat nerve-racking. As I sat in my seat surrounded by 22 unknown faces, my professor instructed that we were going to play a game. In most classes, the first day (or few days) is mainly for reviewing and studying the syllabus, but clearly my professor had something a little bit more untraditional in mind.

My professor then said that we were going to be “speed-dating” with others in our class. I had always thought that the term “speed-dating” was to be used in a romantic sense only, and in my eyes, the classroom was not the appropriate place for this. As we were quickly organized to sit face-to-face with complete strangers, I was all of a sudden intrigued.

For twelve rounds, we were given about three minutes to talk to each of our classmates. While about half of the time allotted was filled by obligatory small-talk (i.e. where the other person is from, what they plan to study, how old they are), the other half of each conversation continually turned into something different each time I spoke with someone new.

I talked about many different topics of varying importance and seriousness, but the interesting part was that I created these conversations with people I had never even seen prior to the start of class that day.

Although it was nine o’clock in the morning and I would have usually left class feeling sleepier than when I arrived, this first day of class was far from what I expected and I felt energized by the end of it. Although it was difficult to keep track of what I talked about and with whom I talked about it, speed dating largely improved the dynamic of the classroom and made the situation a lot less awkward than most first-day-experiences I had previously been a part of.

Although talking to strangers has its way of making some people feel initially uncomfortable, it really is the most efficient way to break the ice among students.

As educators of all different levels are actively creating new teaching methods for this generation of students, being a student myself, I feel as though the beginning of academic success begins with comfort inside of the classroom. Although the terms “speed-dating” and “learning” don’t traditionally go together in an academic sense, they helped create a pleasant environment in our classroom that will ultimately motivate me to feel comfortable around my peers and my professor alike.

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I Rented My Textbooks From Chegg And I Saved Hundreds

Say Goodbye to overpriced books, and say hello to cheap ones!

Textbooks have to be one of the worst parts of college. I love to learn, I love my classes, but I hate the textbooks that come with them. It has nothing to do with the content, but the price tag.

In college, you pay a ridiculous amount of money for textbooks because professors either have you buy the newest edition where there isn't a rental or used book to purchase, they make it available only in an E-book format, or they have you buy the textbook that comes with an additional $100 access code just so you can do your homework. It's stressful and ridiculous and I always find myself spending over $200 for textbooks each semester. Yeah, not per year, per SEMESTER.

This semester, I decided to take a little more action when it came to my books. Instead of ordering my books through the school bookstore, I did some research. I tried Amazon, but they were about the same price as the bookstore if not more at times.

So, I scratched that off my list. Then, I turned to buying used books from other students. It worked with a couple books, but a lot of people didn't have the version of the book I was looking for or were also selling it for a ridiculous price. With only two of the six textbooks I needed in hand, I was at a loss for what to do next. Then, I heard about this website called Chegg. I actually stumbled upon it while looking on Pinterest for "Cheap College Textbooks." I had always heard of Chegg, but I always figured it was too complicated and chose to never use it.

Let me tell you, that was stupid. I looked up the three books I needed and the total price for the three of them had my jaw dropping. My total came out to $85, which was the price of just one of my books at the bookstore.

Below my total, Chegg told me I was saving over $200. Can you believe that?! On top of that? They also offered me free shipping and it would be in my hands in 2-3 days. Also, instead of having to return my books the last week of school, I had a whole extra month to do it. I mean, I probably won't need that long, but hey, life happens sometimes and you forget!

They also send you a label to print off and you just have to pack the books up and ship them off! No return lines, no waiting, just returning your books on your own time.

There are also many other features to Chegg that include free E-books of the textbook you just rented, study tips, and lessons that go along with the books you rented. It really helps when it comes time for homework and tests!

There is a Chegg App that you can download to keep track of your orders and you can also use it for some of these features and to sell some of your own books that you might have!

One last thing that made me just fall in love with Chegg is that when I opened my box, it had a bunch of free goodies inside! There was a sample bag of tide pods, a coupon for MORE tide pods (I can never get enough of those honestly), gum, some coupons and even some gift cards that could be used for cute things for my room and also for some meals! It was just a really nice thing to find because it made me feel like more than just a college student trying to get cheap books.

It actually made me feel like a real person. That may sound odd, but it's true! By them just putting in something extra in my box, it helped eased my stress and mind about all the book troubles I had and it showed me that the people who work at Chegg actually care. They could have just sent my rental books, but they took the extra mile, and I think that's what every textbook rental place should be doing. I ordered my textbooks from Chegg and I'm telling you, I'm never using any other rental place.

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