Regardless of how certain your student seems about their choice of college major, 50% of students will change their major at some point during their college education – and many of those will do so two or three times, according to Dr. Fritz Grupe, founder of MyMajors.com. How concerned should parents be when their student decides to change their major?
Regardless of how certain your student seems about their choice of college major, 50% of students will change their major at some point during their college education – and many of those will do so two or three times, according to Dr. Fritz Grupe, founder of MyMajors.com. How concerned should parents be when their student decides to change their major? We explore the answers to this from two different perspectives – the first, a parent of a college freshman who is currently going through the process of helping his student choose a major and the second, a 2nd-year sonography student, who is changing careers after only a few years in her college-educated field.
The reaction of most parents when first hearing that their student has decided to change majors depends on two main factors: the first, being the frequency of their student’s decision to change majors and second, what year during their student’s college career the decision is made.
Choosing a major, determining a career, getting an education -– these are all part of the college experience. There are a few students who arrive on campus and know exactly what their major and career ambitions will be, but 80% of students do not.
Jeff Hughes is the father of a freshman at BYU-Idaho, and feels confident that his student is among the 20% of college freshmen that know exactly what their future holds, although he admitted that he had changed his major once during his own college career. Mr. Hughes explained, “Currently, she is majoring in Dance with a minor in Business.” While he is fairly confident she will not change her major, he acknowledges that “anything can happen; but I just hope if she were to change majors, she would make the decision early and not after a few years into school – and thereby adding a few more years of expense.”
When asked how he would react if she did decide to change gears during her junior or senior year, Mr. Hughes paused briefly and said, “I would be supportive as a parent. I ultimately want her to explore and make the right decision. I want her to do something she loves.”
In order to understand the possible repercussions of not finding the right major during one’s college career, we sat down with Chasity Kraus, a 2nd-year student of sonography in North Carolina, who graduated from North Carolina State University with a degree in Textile Chemistry in 1998 and later earned a Masters in Textile Technology in 2000. After spending five years in textile chemistry – exploring sales, marketing, lab work and everything else the career could offer, she made the decision to start over.
When asked about what prompted a change of careers, and more importantly the need to return to school, Mrs. Kraus responded, “A few years ago, there was a migration of textile jobs from the US overseas, which basically didn’t leave the opportunities I had expected to have considering my education and experience."
“When forced to find something new, I remembered I had always enjoyed biology – and decided to look into becoming a sonographer,” she explained further. “But in retrospect, I realized that I had always enjoyed biology more than chemistry while in school and had, at one point, considered a field in medicine; but instead, at that time, I was seeking the challenge chemistry offered me over the enjoyment I found in studying biology. I now realize I should’ve followed my heart.”
When asked if she ever considered changing majors while in school, Mrs. Kraus replied, “While I had doubts about textile chemistry, it was mainly self-doubt, because textile chemistry is a very competitive and challenging field, I never really considered another major. I gained a significant amount of life experience on the route I took to get where I am today, it just would’ve been nice to have made the right decision the first time around.”
When asked her advice to parents of college students who are considering changing majors – regardless of when during their college career, Mrs. Kraus suggests, “parents should keep in mind that as students go through school they learn more about themselves and their likes and dislikes. If they choose a field to study that they love and really enjoy, they will stay interested longer and as a result, be more successful. When it comes to choosing the right career, it’s obviously easier if it happens early on, but it is never too late. ”