Why it’s OK to study something new

This story ran as part of a VCU Student Media Center summer special publication, The Compass, which serves as a guidebook for new students.

Andrew Ringle, Managing Editor

Don’t feel bad for deciding to change course in college. Whatever you chose to study in your application to VCU isn’t permanent. In fact, it’s normal for your interests to change before you graduate. For some, changing majors is the best option to make time spent at the university worthwhile. 

I came to VCU as an environmental studies major. I wanted to impress my family by studying something scientific, and I thought I would enjoy the work involved with the degree. But after my freshman year, although my grades were fine, I realized I wasn’t passionate about what I was studying. I didn’t want to work in the prospective job fields for people with my degree, so I decided to go undeclared.

Going into my junior year, I’m now a mass communications student. This decision helped me get involved with extracurricular work on campus. I started writing for the independent student newspaper, The Commonwealth Times, and I’ve met new colleagues while securing professional experiences that’ll help me after college.

Changing majors made me happier and less stressed, and it might do the same for you. Here’s what I advise if you’re having second thoughts about your degree.

Find what you’re passionate about. If you can’t see yourself working in your field after college, it isn’t worth paying thousands of dollars for the degree. College is too expensive to waste time studying something you don’t love. 

Finding your passion is certainly easier said than done. But chances are, you’ve already found it. Whatever keeps you up at ungodly hours working on something you aren’t required to do — that’s your passion. 

Whether it’s photography, journalism, biology or business, chances are VCU offers a degree in the subject. Visit vcu.edu/academics to see if the university offers a degree in something you’re passionate about. 

Consider advice from others. Discuss your plans with those who care about you, like your family and your close friends. Talking to others will help you organize and weigh all your options, and another trusted perspective might reveal something you didn’t consider alone.

If you have friends or family members who studied something you’re interested in, ask them about the classes they took for their degree. Ask them what they plan to do after college, or if they’ve already graduated, learn what their daily life is like in the workforce.

Do it yourself. Above all, the work and research required to change your major is yours alone. Advisors will help, but it is up to you to decide what you want to study in college. The task may seem daunting, but it’s part of adulthood. 

Embrace the independence of choosing your own major as much as you can, though that might be harder if your family members have strong opinions on what you should study. No matter what others may suggest, you know yourself better than anyone. Pursue your most personal ambitions during your time at college and you will be on track for a rewarding career afterwards.

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