Mom, Dad, I want to change my major…

“Mom, Dad, please sit down I have something very important to tell you. I’m dropping out of school to become a ski instructor…” pause and wait for the reactions. “Just kidding, I am changing my major to X.”   Although this is probably not the way to tell your parents that you want to change your major from, let’s say, Pharmacy to perhaps Art; there are some words of wisdom I can give you, but first lets rewind.  Before you change your major there are some steps you need to take:

1)      Take some time to explore new majors. What does your university have to offer? What are the credit and/or GPA requirements? What are the core curriculum requirements? Some majors require you to have a minimum number of 30 credits or a GPA of 3.0; and some require you take certain courses, so understand what is needed for the majors you may be considering.

But Alicia, I have NO IDEA what I want to change my major to! Not a problem that leads me to step two.

2)      Meet with your Career Coach. Here in the Career Center we have multiple assessments we can give you to help you; starting with free and leading to very expensive; ok $20.00 but when I was in college that was very expensive.

3)      Research, Explore, Discover. Take some time to look at the career options for the majors you are considering. Find out the daily task, skills, working conditions, employment outlook, related careers, and salary potential. Two website I recommend are the Occupational Outlook Handbook at and O*net Online

4)      Come back to Career Center to talk about Job Shadowing, Externships, Internships and Co-ops. How are you going to get the experience you need to be marketable when you graduate?

5)      Meet with an advisor. At the University of South Carolina we have an office called Cross College Advising; this office is designed to help undergraduates with this process. They will help you:

  • determine how classes you’ve taken would fit into a different major before switching
  • compare various majors and college/program requirements side by side

At your university this may be different, but you will need to talk to someone about classes and the switch process.

6)      Meet with someone in financial aid because there are financial implications if you have to stay an additional semester or year to complete your new degree. Ask yourself, are you willing to finance this additional time yourself?

Assuming you have completed the six steps above you can have a conversation with your parents. Keep in mind, your parents are probably going to be concerned about a couple of things: How much is this going to cost and are you going to be employable when you graduate?

Now for my breaking the news advice

Don’t actually do this over your holiday dinner, and by the same token don’t wait until the day you leave to come back to school either. Find a quiet or relatively quiet time to sit down with your parent(s).

Explain why you don’t like your current major.

Share the research you’ve collected; this will show them you did not react impulsively and provide them with peace of mind.

Your family loves you and ultimately wants you to be happy with your choices and life, so be enthusiastic and patient with their questions.


About Alicia "Just Ally" Bervine

Asking me to summarize who I am in one or short paragraphs is a close to impossible, I am so much more than what I can write in a sentence or two, or three :-). I am a child of God, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a woman of Alpha Kappa Alpha. Vocationally, I am a the Director of Human Resources for Student Affairs and Academic Support at the University of South Carolina. I am a educator, coach, cheerleader, and advocate for our students. I received my MSHR in Adult Education and Human Resource Development from Fordham University and my BS in Mass Communications and Journalism from St John’s University.
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