Parents

 

Can Switching Majors Delay Graduation?

While graduation in four years is the most efficient and economical path through college, some students get re-routed along the way.

Why Switch?

Freshmen are the most likely students to switch majors. Sometimes a student's quandary results from picking a major based on the advice of a guidance counselor, parent or teacher, or from the results of a testing program designed to guide students with career selection.

Once at college, a student may discover his/her successes and limitations.   For example, the student who did well in high school math might find upper-level calculus to be a struggle.  Likewise, an individual who never took a sociology course before may find it to be intriguing and a natural career choice.

For these reasons and more, many students start college with an undeclared major or find themselves changing majors along the way.    

Time Wasted?

Fortunately, most students realize early on if they picked the wrong major and change after the first semester or year of college.  At this time, it is fairly easy to stay on track to graduate in four years. 

But even if your student is changing majors during the sophomore year, families shouldn't fret.  According to the college catalog, a BW student is asked to declare a major and minor by the end of the second year.  However, a student who is considering a major with many prerequisites should talk with his/her advisor about getting started in those courses as soon as possible.  

From a practical standpoint, a student who switches majors can apply courses originally taken for one major and use them as core requirements and/or elective credits toward graduation. In other cases, a student may elect to minor in the area he/she originally was going to major in.

Delayed Graduation?

Depending on when a student switches majors, there are times when graduation may be delayed by a semester or two.  While this may seem disappointing to students and/or their families, the important consideration is the final outcome. 

Perhaps more difficult than seeing a student delay graduation is learning at commencement that a student was too embarrassed to switch majors during his/her college years and graduated with a major he/she is uninterested in.

But even in those circumstances, a student with a liberal arts degree is marketable.  Sometimes the student elects to earn a graduate degree in another field and other times the person begins employment in an alternative career field.  This is because one of the benefits of a liberal arts education is the breadth of academic disciplines a student experiences through core courses.   

A college degree is only one prerequisite to a career path.  Experience and serendipity also play a role.  The key is flexibility and an understanding that college is more than a parking meter ticking away.  It is only a beginning.

 

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