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Changing Majors

by Sarah Wu

Photography by Ashley Griffin

High school students applying for college have a few big questions in mind—where they should apply, what their target schools are and what major they plan to declare on their applications. It’s not an easy feat—essentially choosing what path they plan to stick with for the rest of their lives. Fortunately, college allows indecisive students to switch majors throughout their time on campus, because realistically, what percent of the population actually knows what they want to do when they’re seventeen?

Boston University students are no exception—it’s common to hear about friends going to advising appointments to switch majors and considering a career change because they lose interest in what they’re studying. Not just once, but sometimes as many as six or seven times.

Lisa Hong (SED ’19) recently made the big change.

“Officially just once. In my head, like six or seven times,” she said. Her original plan was to obtain a dual degree in English at the College of Arts and Sciences and English education in the School of Education.

Hong considered changing majors at the end of her freshman year, but ultimately decided against going through with it. Then, she decided to take the plunge anyways.

Math and English were Hong’s two favorite subjects in high school, and therefore she decided on switching to Math Education so she could combine both of her interests into one major. The transition was difficult, though, as she decided to make the transition after the add/drop period for classes ended in the fall of 2016. She was stuck in the English classes she no longer wanted to take, and knew that in just a few short weeks, she’d be doing something completely different. Throughout the rest of the semester, she met with four different advisors, and is now finally settled in SED for Math Education.

Rocio Alquati (COM ’17) is an advertising major. She changed her major officially three times at BU; during her first semester freshman year (within CAS), after freshman year into Questrom School of Business and lastly after her sophomore year into COM, where she was debating between majoring in Film and T.V. and advertising.

Initially she arrived at BU as an International Relations major, hoping to study socioeconomic disparities worldwide and the international economy.

“Each time I have changed my major, I gained new experiences and knowledge from my studies and research,” she said. “Eventually, this led me to figure out key questions.”

These big key questions included, “What do I want in my life? How can I best achieve my life-term goals and still be happy in the journey?” amongst others.

Both Alquati and Hong, in addition to many other BU students, saw graduating on time as a concern; Boston University’s tuition is a hot topic in the community, and adding another year to the process is about $49,000, not including room and board.

To make up for lost time, Hong plans on taking classes over the summer, but this doesn’t diverge too much from her original plan. Alquati has no regrets—as she put it, she wouldn’t be as well rounded, or not know as much about her other past majors. Changing majors has given her a wider lens to look through when understanding other industries.

A common reason students give for switching majors is that they were simply unhappy—they wanted to study and pursue something they were more passionate about and would be happy doing in the long run.

“So far, my story has proved an asset when interviewing for internships and jobs and in networking events,” said Alquati. “It shows curiosity, and the ability to see something through while also recognizing something may not be for you.”

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