My name is Kathryn Monsewicz, and I am a journalism major at Kent State University. Let me rephrase that: My name is Kathryn Monsewicz, and I am an art history major at Kent State University – no, wait, a communications major – no, correction, a journalism major – no, no, my major is… Welcome to college, where the first thing you get to decide is what you are going to do for the rest of your life. What happens after you’ve been sentenced to four years of nursing or mechanical engineering? After you’ve paid for the textbooks, taken the exams and spent sleepless nights getting that final project done, it seems as if you’re locked in for life. What do you do if you decide you actually hate your major and want to change it?
Pat Benatar preaches it; “Love is a battlefield.” So, are you studying your brains out for something you love, or something you thought you loved? What on earth should you do if you hate your major?
Don’t panic. It might just be that one class.
My first assignment in journalism: Here’s a camera and a microphone. Go interview five strangers about a social issue, film a ton of secondary footage, and edit it into a two-minute video with this very expensive video editing program we’re not going to teach you how to use. Oh, yeah, you have 24 hours. The only class I was taking for my major at the time, and I already hated it. Impossible deadlines, superfluous assignments, and a professor who expects more out of you than your own mother.
You begin to question your own abilities in your major. How will I survive the real world of (insert major here), if I can’t even make it through this one class? Don’t panic. It is just this ONE class. So what if you don’t do so well? It’s not like future employers are going to hound you for getting a “C” in Essentials of Epidemiology. One class should not get to determine how you choose to live your entire life.
Remind yourself why you are in this major in the first place, and what it means for your future.
What made you decide to study advertising? Why pursue business management? Oh, you’re an art major? Aren’t you worried about, you know, having a job? You came to your college or university for more reasons than to go thousands of dollars in debt and only have a piece of paper to show for it. You’re here for a higher education, to study something you enjoy doing, to open up real career opportunities, and to make your loved ones proud. Ask yourself, do you honestly hate your major, or are other people making you think you should hate your major?
Talk to your professors in that field.
These are the professionals. They’ve done their time, they’ve been out in the real world, they are the mouths and minds preaching to you the very information that you’ll need to become like them. Therefore, your professors are the best people to talk to about having doubts in your major. Office hours are for more than questions about a test grade or a difficult homework assignment. Take advantage of their time that they’ve scheduled just for their students. Experience is the best teacher. They can help you figure out if you have the potential to be in the real world of your major.
Talk to teachers from your high school who knew you before you felt the need to change.
This may seem like a bit of a stretch if you’re digging deep for answers. Your high school teachers, especially those in the field you’re studying, are professionals with experience, too. More than that, they are professionals who saw the raw potential in you and the newborn light in your eyes when you first began dreaming of college. They can remind you of the young love you once had for your major. They might even tell you that they expected you to change and that they knew where you truly belonged. It’s okay to let your past identity help shape your future.
If all else fails, don’t be afraid to set up an appointment with your academic advisor. That’s what they are there for!
“Hello, Mr. Academic Advisor? Would you be willing to give me advice about my academics?” Who knows what makes a person qualified to be an academic advisor. Is it experience in the field like professors? Or a working knowledge of how the Kent education system fits with the outside world? Regardless, your academic advisor should be your go-to person for any doubts you have about your studies.
They can’t help you with grades, of course. Instead, they help you follow your road map to graduating with the degree you chose. If you discuss changing your major, but you want to stay within the same college, they can guide you down a similar road map of a different major. You might want to transfer to a different college, like from Arts and Sciences to Mass Communication. They will help you make that decision, but it’s best to also meet with an academic advisor from the new college you wish to attend so that advisor can fill you in on all of the requirements of your newly sought-after major.
The future is scary. That’s why, as humans, we form plans that we hope will solve those fears before they ever happen. The problem with these plans is that they change quite often, and therefore we must adapt. The last thing you want is to be stuck hating your major and plan, but suffering through it anyway. What does that say about your future? Will you hate the future you have, too?
I changed my major twice my freshman year and might soon change again as a sophomore. Am I afraid I’m doing something wrong if I change? Yes. But do I feel like I’m doing something wrong by not changing, too? Yes. That’s why we have professionals seeking to share their experience with us. They want to help us right our wrongs and turn hate into love.