Changing Majors

Majors don’t have to be forever, but changing degrees can be scary! Here are some tips for making the process easier, and helping to embrace the excitement.

By Ellie Younger March 1, 2021
two arrows labeled with Plan A and Plan B

This January, amid the second semester of my sophomore year, I made the difficult decision to change majors, which meant transferring from one U-M college to another. Numerous complicated factors affected my choice, and making it certainly wasn’t easy. What it mostly came down to was this: my dream of a nursing career had changed.

I was terrified to make the switch, scared to disappoint my friends and the people around me, worried about catching up on the degree requirements, and uncertain about what my future would hold. Fortunately, it turns out there are so many people here willing to help you transfer colleges within the University of Michigan.

People change their majors all the time, because the point of college is to learn and grow into a better understanding of who we are. You don’t have to stay with one choice the whole way through. Here are some of the things that I learned throughout my process of completing what is known as a cross-campus transfer, to LSA (and don’t forget to check out LSA’s interactive What Will You Do with an LSA Degree? wheel).

LSA building

1. What matters most is what you think, not what other people think.

I spent fall semester unhappy, pondering other majors, making pros and cons lists about leaving, and ultimately not doing anything because I was worried people would see my choice to change my major as quitting.

When I finally cross-campus transferred to LSA, I realized that I wasn’t quitting or running away from a problem; I was running toward a solution. I worried that people would judge me for leaving a major that I had previously repped as my dream, but I was pleasantly surprised when they understood, and instantly supported me. Let people surprise you.

2. If there is a chance for you to be happier, by all means, take it.

I was holding myself back by prioritizing finishing something I had started over starting something that could be truly wonderful. I worried that by changing my major, not only would I be leaving something that I had previously been passionate about, but I would also be leaving a steady job and income to head to a degree that was a big question mark. In the end, I wanted to choose my major and future career path out of love and passion, not out of obligation.

3. You are more capable than you think.

You’re capable of advocating for yourself, finding your new path, and discovering a way forward. I transferred when the semester had already started, which meant I was having an identity crisis at the very same time that classes were hurtling assignments at me. Once I made the decision to transfer, I found it easier than expected to catch up on my work because suddenly I was reinvigorated and filled with interest in my studies.

4. Embrace the excitement of change.

Celebrate your bravery and your new major as well as all the possibilities and opportunities that can come with it. For me, transferring felt like a huge weight off my shoulders, so I celebrated the end of a long process of questioning the program I had been in, and looked forward to the joys of the next one.

5. Know that once you are a Michigan student, some U-M school/college majors are only accessible to you through cross-campus transfer.

If you want to major in education, public policy, public health, dental hygiene, or information, your only option is to start at Michigan in a school or college that admits first-year students. Then you would begin the transfer process during your sophomore year, for junior year entry. If this is your plan, you’ll want to be aware of course requirements for the so-called upper-level admitting units, so you are eligible to transfer.

sunny skies

Whether you change majors five times during your years here, or stay with one, the most important thing is that you keep growing within your degree, discover new things that excite you, and find reasons to keep studying.

There are more than 280 majors at Michigan, making the possibilities almost limitless. Transferring colleges within U-M to change majors and follow your interests is an option, and it doesn’t have to be a scary one when you have the right people by your side supporting you.

Ellie Younger

Ellie Younger is a sophomore in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts and plans to study Biopsychology, Cognition and Neuroscience. Ellie volunteers with the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center (SAPAC) and is happy to have found her U-M community in the club Survivor Michigan, for which she is an HR executive. She loves hiking in her home state of Oregon, conversations about social justice, and good poetry.