Going into college, there’s one question everyone will immediately ask your student—what’s your major? The one flaw in this is that not every student knows what their major is or, quite frankly, likes their major.
When I started college, I was in a major I knew didn’t fit me. During the application process, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do for the next four years. One thing I had was that I was in a club in high school which lead me to Journalism, but I soon realized Journalism was never where I belonged. While it remains a fantastic program, my heart wasn’t in the subject. Instead, I found that I belonged elsewhere—Political Science and English.
Changing majors may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Being in a major you don’t fit or starting in the Division of General Studies has plenty of benefits. In addition, wherever your student is, their advisor is always going to help them transition into that major that does fit them best.
It’s never too late to start a new major. In my case, I’m starting two whole majors my sophomore year, but that doesn’t mean I’m behind. I’m still perfectly on track to finish two degrees within four years. The process of starting over is worrisome at first, but every program and advisor accommodates to your student’s needs and makes the transition easy.
While students in DGS have advisors designed to transfer them into a new college at the University, students already in a college or a different major have a bit of a different transition to make. For me, I started in Media and wanted to transfer into Liberal Arts and Sciences on my first day—what was the hardest, though, was finding out I couldn’t transfer colleges for a whole year.
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At first, I thought it was the worst thing—not being able to transfer right away. Staying in Journalism for the year came with so many benefits. I made lifelong friends in the major and worked with professors who were looking out for my best interest—professors who helped me think out a multitude of paths for different majors. My advisor never tried to keep me in a major I didn’t feel fit me best. Instead, he immediately helped me sign up for classes in the Political Science curriculum.
Intercollegiate transfers can be more difficult than just switching your major—with the different requirements each college demands and whatnot. The first step is going to an ICT meeting sometime during the school year. Being an over enthusiastic freshman, I attended mine far too early and was immediately deemed the lone freshman who still had months to wait. While a bit humorous, it was a great decision to get ahead and take care of those requirements months earlier than needed. It takes a major load of stress off your student’s back.
Following this, you wait until your timeslot opens and fill out a minimal application. Your student writes a few short essays and enters their GPA, and everything is taken care of from there. What’s important in this application process is making sure you fulfill all of the requirements to transfer into the new major. For instance, a difference between Media and LAS is their foreign language requirement. I, thankfully, completed mine back in high school, but it’s important to make sure your student covers all bases before going through it. For instance, psychology has a couple of core classes that must be completed prior to transferring schools.
Your student should also never be afraid to tell their advisor they want to transfer to a new major or college—advisors are here for them. They will guide your student into the classes they’ll need for a successful transfer. They’ll never hold them back—they’ll encourage them to start diving right into what they want to do. I know my advisor helped me a significant amount in the process.
The faculty at the University of Illinois will always have your student’s back. While starting from scratch may feel like an impossible task, it’s more than manageable. There are so many resources to utilize in this process for a smooth transition.
In the end, what everything comes down to, is if your student is happy with what they’re studying—that will always be what matters the most.