Entering college, your student may have been mapping out an idea of what their life will look like based on their major. They may have told you of their dreams of being an engineer, a doctor, or a scientist and explained to you how their classes were going to help them achieve those goals.
Then you get that phone call. Now they have a different dream! They tell you they took a class, talked to a professor, or read a book that has inspired them to change their major and pursue a different career path.
As parents, we should not panic when our children change majors. College is the perfect time to really figure out what interests your student and what doesn’t. Through research, clubs, internships, and course experience, your student will get a more accurate picture of what they want to study in their four years at UMass. It is also okay if it takes longer than four years to achieve their college and career goals.
Entering college, my student had a strong image of herself double majoring in Political Science and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) at UMass. She saw herself working in the policy sector with a focus on gender issues. However, after two classes in the WGSS Department, my daughter’s vision for the future changed. As an entering college student, she could only make assumptions about what her courses were going to be like. Once she had taken two WGSS courses, she felt her interests aligned more with the History Department. With this major change, her future plans in policy changed with it. Though I was worried that she would fall behind by changing her major from WGSS to History, she created a curriculum plan or a list of courses she needed to take each semester with the help of her advisors and professors. Ultimately, she successfully completed both her Political Science and History degrees and even added an Economics minor in four years.
By changing majors, your student is taking a leap to follow their interests and make their UMass experience better for themselves; and if they do not know what they want to major in or are looking for careers outside of their major, the Career Development and Professional Connections office can help. They have multiple resources including one called, “What Can I Do With This Major” that helps students explore different careers for a given major. Students are truly supported by advisors, professors, and peers in their college journey, and hopefully you too!
So don’t fret if you get that phone call, text, or email from your student exclaiming about their new and exciting major they have switched to. UMass is the perfect institution for students to feel comfortable switching their major because there are so many highly accredited programs.
It is fantastic that your student has identified a major that better fits their interests. Go on their journey with them and UMass will be there for you both.
Tracey O’Neil is a parent of a UMass alumnus and a current UMass junior & a current member of the UMass Amherst Parents Advisory Council.