Major confusion

Blythe Alspaugh

Meredith Kinder’s love for animals and nature shows pushed her to study zoology. With an older brother studying astrophysics, science seemed like the right path.

After receiving less-than-satisfying grades despite her constant studying and working on homework, she was ready for a change.

“I wasn’t happy in my classes, and I was struggling so much,” Kinder said. She switched her major to English before the 2013-2014 school year. “I had always done well in English classes, so it seemed like the right choice.”

Mark Manley, Physics Department undergraduate coordinator, said low grade point averages are often a reason why students change their majors.

“If you look at [students’] grade point averages, they just are not doing well in their coursework,” Manley said. He also said that students who struggle with certain core concepts to their major realize that they aren’t best suited to pursue that course of study.

Another reason students change his or her major is because they don’t enjoy their classes. Colin Schalk, a sophomore communication studies major, switched from photojournalism for this reason.

“[The classes] were not very fun,” Schalk said. “I feel that my communication studies major is a little bit easier to do now, and it works better with my various other activities that I have to do.”

For sophomore Champaign Bounds, her major switch was prompted after a friend asked her what she wanted to do for a career. She started out in psychology because of her interest in how the brain works, and switched to pre-medicine psychology to pursue neurology.

However, she wasn’t done. That question — what do you want to do? — made her realize that at the core of it all, she wanted to help people. Her friend pointed her to human development and family studies.

“She said I would like the classes a lot more,” Bounds said.

She didn’t.

“I switched to something else that was very people-based, which was communications,”  Bounds said. “I love it. It’s the best major ever.”

Switching so frequently can have its consequences. For Bounds, she has fallen behind on her track to graduation. She has, however, found a solution.

“If I take 18 credit hours each semester that I have left, I’ll be able to graduate on time without doing any extra semesters,” she said.

Many have found that switching majors has lifted a stressful weight off of their shoulders. Such is the case for Kinder.

“I was working so hard and making myself miserable studying [for zoology],” Kinder said. “As an English major, for the most part, things have been a lot more relaxed and any heavy workloads have come from my own procrastination. Since English comes naturally to me, though, I don’t find myself needing to spend every waking moment studying and stressing.”

Sometimes it takes one try to find the right fit, and sometimes it can take several more. For these three students, the trial and error has been worth it.

“I love my classes and the things that I am learning,” Kinder said. “I’m a lot happier than I was this time last year.”

Contact Blythe Alspaugh at [email protected]