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Have you made a major mistake?

Many students enter university knowing exactly what major they want to specialize in — at least they think they do.

Many students enter university knowing exactly what major they want to specialize in — at least they think they do.

But as students, we encounter new interests and challenges, giving us new-found perspective and knowledge. These insights can contradict existing notions and fall contrary to previous expectations.

I, for one, always knew that I wanted to study journalism, but I decided to enter university under another major so that I could work toward a greater understanding of my future program. In doing so, I built the proper knowledge, resources and mind-set required for journalism school.

But switching majors is not as easy as it seems. As someone who switched majors during my undergraduate degree, I know finding the right major for you can be difficult and overwhelming. There are many things to consider when doing so.



Meeting requirements


Each program has different requirements. Some programs are based on a grades-only application, whereas others require grades plus non-academic submissions, such as portfolios, or audio and tape submissions.

When I applied to Ryerson University’s journalism program, I applied under the grades plus program, which required me to submit a select number of published works. I completed a lot of work outside school hours so that my portfolio would guarantee me acceptance into the program.

Switching to a more specialized program will demand a lot more than high grades. Additionally, if you are applying to a program that is in-demand, you should make sure that your grades surpass the minimum grade requirement to get into the program.

Researching the program

Before deciding to switch programs, it is necessary to research exactly what your intended field of study entails. You can never know too much, so do your homework prior to switching majors.

Seek resources within your school; talk to department heads, people at the career centre and anyone who can help guide you in the right direction.

Do your research and don’t forget about the simple, yet crucial requirements, such as having a minimum number of field-related courses and making sure that you do not miss crucial deadlines for transferring.



Sacrifice


Most people forget about the sacrifices that come with switching majors. When you decide to transfer programs you are agreeing to forfeit your existing major. Since program requirements vary, this could mean that the one or two years spent in your program will essentially be discredited and not counted toward your new major.

It also means having to start from scratch again. I was extremely happy to switch programs and be able to study my true calling. I was, however, a little disappointed when I realized that all my hard work was not going to be accounted for. It is a difficult reality to grapple with, especially if you are someone who wants to finish school as quickly as possible, or if you face major financial constraints.

Then there are other minor inconveniences such as the transfer process, which can be difficult and laborious. There are many forms to fill, fees to pay and places to drop things off to.

Ultimately, however, you have to be in a major that is complementary to your abilities and preferences. If you are unhappy with what you are studying, it is not worth spending your time and money continuing.

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