Why It’s Okay to Switch Programs
Updated: Feb 3, 2021
By: Sabia Bhuiyan (Ryerson University)
Changing my program was one of the best decisions I’ve made. Although the process of coming to terms with the drastic change to my life had been difficult, it was the right step towards the future I would like to achieve. Personally, losing a couple years midway through one degree is not ideal, but it is better than realizing and regretting something further down the line. As the saying goes, “ it’s better to do something sooner rather than later!”
What program are you in now? And why did you choose Ryerson?
Currently, I am at Ryerson University for Computer Engineering. The main reason why I chose to go to Ryerson was because it is close to home, which would mean I would not need to move out. Not only is Ryerson located in the heart of downtown, but the best perk of attending Ryerson is the countless number of options when it comes to deciding on what to eat. The convenience of also having the Eaton Centre in close proximity of the university made it a big factor for me as I had planned to work part-time alongside school during the semesters when I had a lighter course load.
While these are the reasons that drove me to ultimately choosing Ryerson, the most prominent factor was the program itself. Over the past few years, Ryerson’s name has climbed up to become one of the top universities of Canada. The engineering faculty is also highly recognized, as many alumnis are employed at big companies including AMD, Microsoft, IBM and many more. While that was definitely a compelling reason, many other factors played into the final decision. Before coming into the program I was a bit uncertain at times, but joining the Tri Mentoring program myself was one of the reasons why I was confident this program was for me. Tri Mentoring is a program offered by Ryerson, which allows new students to meet upper year students and share their experiences and give advice. Talking to upper years really gave me an insight what the program is like and made me feel like I would fit right in.
Another reason I decided on Ryerson was because they offered an opportunity called The Transition Program in which all first year Fall semester courses are offered in Winter semester and and all Winter semester courses are offered in the Spring semester so that students who do not adequately meet the course requirement will not fall behind a year. This opportunity is also offered for second, third and fourth year Winter courses, which can be taken in Spring. In engineering, it is common for students to fail courses and stay behind but this opportunity allows them to stay on track and knowing this was available for me was really helpful.
What program were you in before? Why did you decide to switch?
Previously, I was in Biomedical Sciences at York University, which I shortly discovered did not align with my personal interests. During my time at York, my interest to study in the engineering field sparked as my friends who were studying engineering passionately spoke about their studies. I realized I had never wanted to discuss what I was learning and made me contemplate everything I was doing. All throughout high school I had been convinced that my only option was biomedical science, since I had ultimately wanted to go into medical school. I had assured myself that this was my path and closed down any opportunities and options that ever came my way.
While I had never excelled in biology, it never demotivated me as I was so sure I would be able to reach the end by just making myself work for it. It had never occurred to me that it would be impossible to do something that I clearly had no passion for. While for courses like chemistry, physics, and math I had never tried as hard but ended up doing just as good as biology or even better. By the time I realized this was not my path, it was too late, I was in my first year and I felt like I had no way out. Around that time I had also looked into some of the difficulties and the overall lengthy process of going to medical school in Canada. After doing extensive research, and talking to those around me in my program, I realized that this may not be the best path for me, and not something that I would be able to thrive in.
That is when I decided to retrace my steps and try to work out what to do from then on. When my Winter semester had ended, all summer I was fixated on figuring out my next steps. Keeping in mind that I was interested in programs related to math, physics, and chemistry, I spent endless hours researching, and reaching out to those that were in the same position as me, and reaching out to those in the workforce currently. After a lot of thinking, I was certain about engineering, but I was confused about the disciplines, as some disciplines interested me more than others, so I had to research about job perspectives and job growth before I jumped into this plan. Finally, I decided on computer engineering, as it fit in with what I was looking for and even though I had never coded in my life before, I decided to give it a go and I seemed to adapt pretty well to it.
What was the process of switching programs like?
The process of switching was pretty simple and short. I first applied to Ryerson through a mature students portal where my high school and past university marks were taken. I also had to write a letter on why I had wanted to switch and the program I had wanted to switch into. Once that was submitted it took them around two months to get back to me with my acceptance letter. That was when I proceeded to contact York about formally leaving the university. Once Ryerson had seen my York transcript, they decided to transfer two of my courses, so during my first year at Ryerson I was able to have a lighter course load.
Do you have any tips for students who are thinking of switching programs?
I would encourage anyone who is having even the slightest thought about switching programs to consider researching their prospective field. It is important that students know that switching programs during their time in university is normal and common among undergraduates. I would advise students to not let the fear of falling behind get in the way of potentially entering into their desired program of study. Researching is very helpful and even if they decide not to switch, they will be more confident with their decision and be happy later on.
Another important tip that I have received from a mentor of mine is to make sure I connect with people who are already enrolled in the program of interest. By doing this, students are given a good idea of what to expect from the program and most importantly have a few reliable individuals to go during times of uncertainty. Most people in university do not usually graduate in the standard four years, and that’s totally fine because everyone has their own pace. It’s important to focus on yourself, because years down the line that’s all that will matter. It’s also very important to network during your undergraduate years with students and professors, as it can lead to many opportunities for internships and fellowships in the future.
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