Statistics show that between 50-70% of undergraduate students change their major at least once while in college. The decision to change your major is a personal decision, but how do you communicate how the skills you’ve gained in your first major are transferable? Here are two scenarios that model what one should do when discussing their transferable skills between their majors.
A student on the path toward an English degree has decided, after talking to several Journalism majors, that they want to switch their major from English to Journalism. The skillsets from these two majors align quite nicely with one another. As an English major, this student should have solid communication skills, and Journalism is essentially also a communications-oriented major. The difference is in what is being communicated; objective facts in Journalism, subjective details within a fictional text in English. This kind of linear transition, with largely overlapping skillsets, pertains to many major changes within the humanities. If a History student was looking to transfer to an English program, they’d use many of the same written and verbal communications skills.
But what if the major change does not appear to be as linear as an English to Journalism, or a History to English switch? My younger brother, Bryan, is currently a Business major with a focus in Accounting at Merrimack College, but when he entered college, Bryan was an Engineering major with the intent of working in the video game industry. After a long talk with his academic advisors, he made the switch from Engineering to Accounting. It may not seem like a natural progression, but he was able to bring from his prior experience the skills of problem-solving, data analysis and modeling, and attention to detail. When the time comes for him to write cover letters for job or internship applications, my brother will be able to demonstrate unique strengths thanks to the transferable skills he brought from his Engineering past.
College is a time of learning and growth. You are not the same person you were at 18 as you are when you graduate, and you may not have the same goals or interests when you finish. Every course you’ll take, both in and out of your major, helps you develop a brand new skill. You just might find one of those new skills you’re excited about is the backbone of another major!
Talk to professors, advisors and students in your intended major, as well as people in the field, to discover whether making the switch from one major to another is the right decision for you. You can even attend a CCD workshop, Career Directions, to discuss your major options (find an upcoming session on our calendar). Through self-examination, research, and by following your interests and values, you will end up in the right program for you.