About 80 percent of students in the United States end up changing their major at least once, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
I am a part of that statistic. At the end of my freshman year, I changed my major from English Secondary Education to pursue a degree in Communications with an emphasis in Journalism.
I’m sure that of the 80 percent mentioned, there are only a handful that thought they would ever change their major; I am not one of them. From the sixth grade, I had always wanted to be a teacher. Many of my role models were the English teachers that I had in class; I looked up to them and I wanted to emulate them. So, I decided very early on that I will major in education.
Then the 2018 Teacher Strike hit West Virginia, and I cooled to the idea of being a teacher. However, I continued down a path of declaring a Secondary Education major when I decided to apply and attend Concord University.
I applied to Concord due to its history of being a teacher’s college and its numerous accomplishments in the field of education. Once I was accepted, I quickly found my way into student teaching opportunities but afterward, I felt numb.
I realized this wasn’t what I wanted anymore.
After completing the necessary hours for my student teaching at the local high school in Princeton, I re-declared my major. As my eyes roamed through the list of possible majors, I had to reevaluate what I wanted to do in my life and career.
I was struck with the overwhelming feeling that English wasn’t necessarily the wrong thing to pursue, but teaching wasn’t for me. I have always wanted to write and the 2018 WV Teacher Strike left a profound impact on me, so I still wanted to help those in the educational industry.
I was struck by the importance of the news coverage during this time and how a primary role of journalism is to provide information to the public and act as “a watchdog over public affairs and government” according to the Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics. I wanted to earn a degree in Journalism to enhance the voices of the public as well as provide the necessary tools and information to minimize the harm those impacted by governmental policies may face.
This is what drove me to declare a major in communication arts with an emphasis on journalism. I felt that this new major would allow me to enjoy my passion for writing as well as amplify the voices of teachers and others impacted by political issues.
Despite my conviction that this major would be better for me, I was still apprehensive. I remember thinking, “What will my parents think?”
Throughout this entire process, I realized that I wasn’t worried about changing my major but I was worried that I would let others down, especially my mother. I still remember how my hands trembled and how my knuckles turned white as I held the phone in a death grip, waiting for my mom to pick me up to tell her about my decision.
I grew up poor, and my parents only wanted their children to get an education and have a financially stable career. Stability was not something I was familiar with growing up, living paycheck to paycheck. It made sense why I would want to choose a career in education due to its stable job market, salary, and benefits.
Fortunately, my mother was supportive of my decision. Her support helped to reinforce my resolve to change my major to Communication Arts with an emphasis in Journalism.
Even without her support, I would have redeclared my major. I kept reminding myself that I was doing this for me. If I would have turned back then, I knew I would have been letting myself down by continuing to be an education major.
Now, I am on my way to graduate with a degree in Communication Arts and I’m excited about my prospects in terms of career opportunities and growth.
I want to leave you with this advice as you continue your academic career at Concord University and you may find yourself a part of that 80 percent previously mentioned: it is okay to change your major. You are going to college to improve YOUR life, and you should be proud of yourself. Remember, you don’t need anyone to be proud of you because you and only you know how hard you have worked or are working for your achievements.
If you are thinking about changing your major, contact your advisor to review your options.
by Grace Watson