In college, there is an unspoken stigma surrounding the people that decide to change their major during their first year at the university. During high school, we're told to know exactly what we want to do, and be able to articulate it well enough for a 500 word personal statement in hopes of getting into a university. We're taught to get the perfect SAT score, achieve all As in our classes, be in sports, and have multiple hobbies in order to be the most well-rounded student possible. In the pursuit of perfections, we have lost the joy of discovering what we are genuinely interested in, thus spurring on the rise in changing majors within the first year of college.
When I first started at UC Riverside, I never wanted to change my major. I wrongly thought that the people that changed their major were just confused, or unambitious, or boring. I entered as a Political Science/International Affairs student, and had high hopes of becoming an international human rights lawyer and genocide prevention activist. However, as I continued my first year of college, I realized that a better fit for me was not just learning about political systems and ideologies, but the application of my knowledge into real-life policies that could help other people. Thus, I began the pursuit of changing my major from Political Science to Public Policy, a more specific track to my end goal of making higher education in California the best it can be.
Thankfully, my dad was extremely accepting of it, but that's not always the case for students who decide to change their major. Regardless of what your relatives might tell you around the Thanksgiving table or what side eyes your peers may give, check out the top reasons why changing your major is okay as a first-year college student.
Changing your major means that you are getting something out of the education you pay for. I spend a lot of time talking to my fellow peers, and nothing is more frustrating than seeing students that only attend class to get a passing grade, go home, and graduate with the blissful ignorance that they earned their degree in mediocrity. College is supposed to be the time of our lives, an unstoppable era where our interests are infinite and our dreams have no limit.
When you change your major because you found something else that sets your heart on fire, you are getting something meaningful out of the thousands you are spending in attending college in the first place. It shows that your classes have shown you that there is more out there than what you originally saw, and that your potential is still untapped - waiting to be discovered. Instead of sitting in a lecture room occupying space, you are claiming a stake in your education by deciding to study content that you genuinely take an interest in. At the end of the day, isn't that we all want in the first place?
Changing your major means that your personality is evolving. Before you know it, you'll be graduated with a piece of paper and the obligation to enter the workforce, start a family, or pursue other professional goals. Now is the pivotal moment where we ought to spearhead our maturity as people, becoming civically engaged, personally aware of our strengths and weaknesses, and hopelessly curious about what potential lies ahead.
When I first entered as a Political Science student, I thought that was the peak of my existence, and I didn't see any opportunities for work beyond being a lecturer or perhaps a public official, if I summoned the courage. It wasn't until I realized, through classes, that I genuinely enjoyed the way legislation can change the lives for other people, and it made me want to learn more and more about a field that seemed to have no limits.
There are enough people who graduate with a degree in a major they never wanted in the first place. As soon as they enter the workforce, they have nothing to fall back on because their entire mentality is focused on concentrations they never even cared about. Now is the time to take hold of our constantly evolving personality and to acknowledge where our passions are taking us.
Changing your major means that you're doing something for yourself. I hear too many stories of the people who go from being an art major, for example, to an engineering major solely on the basis of wanting to find a job after college. Their heart couldn't be further from engineering, but they pursue it because they want to make their parents proud. They exert laborious amount of energy for the hallow return of security or some form of contentment, but it's not what they actually want.
Changing your major is a bold claim of what is rightfully yours - what you want to study and the type of future you want to pave for yourself. It is greater than the scrutiny of people who haven't even taken the time to understand your passions, but are the first to judge you once you decide to commit to them.