For WVU junior Melissa Stone, finding the right path in college was difficult.
“Everyone just assumed that I was going to go into business,” Stone said.
Once Stone transferred from Potomac State to WVU after studying business for two years, she decided she could not stick with the major anymore.
Stone is one of 33% students in the United States pursuing a bachelor’s degree who end up changing their major, according to the Federal Education Department.
The same study showed 28% of students pursuing an associate degree changed their major once and about one in 10 students switched their major at least twice.
Students in STEM programs such as engineering, mathematics, natural sciences and computer and information sciences were more likely to switch majors than their non-STEM counterparts, with 35% of STEM majors switching compared to 29% of non-STEM majors.
Overall, students studying math were the most likely to change their major. Fifty-two percent of all students who initially declared math as their major changed their major.
Other majors with high percentages of students who began majoring in something else include 40% of students in the natural sciences, 37% in education, 36% in humanities disciplines and 32% in engineering and general studies.
Sara Troupe, staff psychologist and outreach coordinator for the Carruth Center, said switching majors can sometimes give students a feeling of uncomfortable uncertainty.
“Some things that I have heard from students is that there’s a lot of pressure for some students to be in a certain major,” Troupe said. “Shifting that can come with some questions of ‘What does this mean for my future?’”
Troupe said many students come into college knowing what they want, but are often exposed to different courses their first year and begin to question their initial choice.
“It’s maybe this idea of concern around ‘What do I actually want?’ and ‘Is what I’m doing right now what I want?’ and ‘What if I don’t know what I want right now for my future?’” Troupe said.
Troupe said it is completely normal for students to question their major, especially when their minds have been opened to new options.
However for Stone, the decision to switch majors is not one that seemed normal, especially going into her junior year of college.
She had originally decided to go into business marketing because it was something she had always known, but after taking courses, she realized she enjoyed the creative aspect of marketing and not the analytical side she was learning.
That’s when Stone decided to switch her major to journalism.
“Going from marketing to journalism wasn’t too bad considering you need a lot of the same GEFs, but now it’s like playing catch-up,” Stone said.
Although switching majors her junior year of college has proven difficult, as Stone feels she needs to work harder to be on the same level as her classmates and classes, she definitely recommends changing majors if you are unhappy.
“If you want to switch your major, it is not too late,” Stone said. “If you are questioning your major, you need to look into it because the worst thing that you could do is go to school for four years, graduate with a degree and realize that you don’t want to do anything that your degree can help you with.”