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  • Jessica Barbish ('22)

Transitioning Majors

Photo / Jessica Barbish

Transitioning your major in college is a very difficult decision to make, as it can result in changing several classes and possibly spending additional time at college. Whether you are struggling with your classes or just not as passionate about the subject, something

made you think about changing your major. There are a few things to think about when considering changing your major. You should think about why you would want to transition to your new major of choice. Is there something leading you to believe that you would be more successful? Do you see yourself with a future in that field? You also will need to look into the requirements for both transitioning into that major, as well as what you will need to do to graduate. It will help you to know what you will be committing to when you change your major.

Speaking from personal experience, I have transitioned my major relatively recently. I entered college as a freshman in general engineering and met the difficult decision of choosing what kind of engineering I wanted to pursue. After debating between a

few, I decided to go into Mechanical Engineering. I wasn’t sure of the decision as it seemed like a huge decision to make when I still didn’t quite understand how my future and career would be affected. However, I felt that I enjoyed physics and seemed interested in the field in general, so I decided to pursue the major. Sophomore year started off without much of a change, as many of my classes were still ones that

everyone needed to complete for several engineering majors. My choice of major had very little effect on my class schedule, and I made it through happily with my decision.

Then during my second semester of sophomore year, we were hit by COVID, which changed a lot in my life. School went online, and I was faced with the challenges of a new lifestyle and method of learning. In general, I didn’t like online schooling and the transition of not sitting in the classroom, but I kept on going through it all. During this time, I started to have my doubts about my choice in major. As soon as junior year came around, I started to ask myself the hard questions about what I wanted to do with my

life. I honestly was struggling to figure out what track I wanted to take in my career and what I wanted to pursue. I could tell my initial investment in the major had already started to waver, as I was starting to look at the possibilities not typically offered as part of Mechanical Engineering. I started to wonder if maybe I had chosen wrong back in my freshman year when I applied for the major change. This was just the first sign of many where I could tell that something was wrong, but I figured I was already too far into my major to change, as it was already my junior year.

Getting to the end of my junior year, I found I struggled with classes and did not have as much interest in my classes. It wasn’t that it was too hard for me, but that I wasn’t invested in the topics anymore. I wasn’t sure what to do at this point, as I knew that

I had a big decision to make: changing my major, taking a break from school and working for a year, or trying some alternative beyond that. The whole process took a lot of thought, and I ended up talking to several people to gather my thoughts and the reasons for each decision. After a lot of debate and discussing the further steps I would need to take for this decision, I decided to apply for Materials Science Engineering. I was accepted and began the transition into my new major.

I had never had success from the career fairs, but suddenly several opportunities became present at once, and I was fully invested in the thrill of my new found passion.

Transitioning majors did change my courses and would require me to stay for an additional year than originally planned, but I was alright with this change. I was worried that I may be making another mistake, but I figured it was best to just try my best to succeed and see where it takes me. As fall semester came along, I was completely immersed in materials courses from the very beginning. I found myself happy to actually enjoy my classes and lectures and be more invested in the topics discussed in class. I could tell I had a change from within. The spark of passion was reignited for me, and it made everything a lot easier for me. My classes became less of a burden and more of something I looked forward to in life. I attended engineering expo again and managed to secure two interviews and eventually two possible internships to choose from. I had never had success from the career fairs, but suddenly several opportunities became present at once, and I was fully invested in the thrill of my new found passion. I also was invited to attend the Materials Science and Technology Conference and loved the trip that let me learn about some current research in the field, as well as making

new connections. I can truly say that I have never felt more satisfied and happy with my decision to change to Materials Science Engineering. All this showed me that, while changing my plan in life was intimidating and a difficult decision to make, it was worth it in the end. I also learned that I was far from the only one going through this change, as

I made several friends who also changed majors too. I don’t think it is ever too late to change your future plans and find your passion. Always feel free to talk to others about the change or see the transitional advisors at Virginia Tech to help you make your decision. I am now happily continuing my classes in Materials Science Engineering and pursuing a career in the metallurgical field. I look forward to my future and can’t wait to see what will happen next in my life.

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