Switching Majors: One of My Best Decisions
Updated: Jul 28, 2020
Written By Vin Venkatesh
From Management Studies to Political Science
Switching programs is a difficult, and sometimes scary, decision. However, when I first considered transferring into Western University’s Political Science program, it was fueled by the understanding that it would be far more difficult to spend three additional years in a program I had little to no interest in. There were three highlighted thoughts that kept surfacing: preparing to enter a new area of academia with a different framework of courses, dealing with the uncertainty of keeping my grades up in a completely different environment, and telling my family about the decision. These were all less terrifying than the prospect of potentially remaining in a field of study in which I could never see myself being happy.
I entered Western’s Business Management and Organizational Studies (BMOS) program in first year, knowing it covered a broad range of management-related topics such as finance, accounting, consumer behaviour, and human resources. My aim was to preview all areas of business management and specialize in upper years based on what peaked my interest. However, sitting in lectures of a thousand students listening to professors talk about screening and hiring processes or the formal definition of a liability, I realized that not only was I uninterested, but the program was not geared towards my strengths or learning style. I began to live for Wednesday night political science lectures and tutorials where my understanding of concepts is constantly tested and challenged, both by the material and other students. The course essays provided me an opportunity to take the hypothetical arguments I would have with myself in the shower and refine them into something worthy of academic recognition. Arguing with peers was something to be encouraged, as long as it remained civil, and creating a debate within the class was mandatory instead of pretentious.
One of the biggest misconceptions about switching majors is that it indicates uncertainty and is a failure on the student’s part. As university students, nearly everyone is unsure about their eventual career path, and the only way we can mitigate that uncertainty is by exploring all our options. This involves joining extra-curriculars outside our field of study and taking electives that peak our interest, as opposed to those that are allegedly easy, in order to accumulate a wider scope of experiences to base decisions upon. Making a well-informed and educated choice to switch majors as a result of these experiences is one way to move closer towards your end goals, and it is a mark of decisiveness rather than uncertainty.
With that being said, make sure the decision is not purely as a result of stress, or one made on a whim. I originally considered the option of switching into political science during a tear-inducing study session before a consumer behaviour exam. Coming back to the option after completing and doing well in first year BMOS courses, led me to realize that the stress was not the typical student exam experience. It was due to being enrolled in a program that demanded hours upon hours of memorizing information that I personally did not find engaging. The choice to switch programs should be pragmatic and the result of genuine interest in a subject, rather than the result of exasperation.
As always, universities have innumerable resources to make the transition easier — whether this be academic counselling, upper-year students, or faculty members — and all of which can be used for guidance. For me, switching majors has resulted in being both engaged and challenged in class, and was well worth the risk. Ultimately, the choice is yours. If you have a passion for a field of study outside your current major, can see your academic endeavours in that field as more rewarding, and believe it will be more fulfilling — both personally and as a career path — then it may be in your interest to switch programs!
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