Students choose their college major for a variety of reasons, and it is quite common to not get it right on the first try.
According to a 2017 report by the U. S. Department of Education, 33 percent of students in bachelor degree programs changed their major at
least once in their first three years of college, and nearly one in 10 students switched more than once.
Ferris environmental biology junior Molly Fitzgerald said she came to Ferris with full intentions of becoming a doctor and was passionate about that career path, but her first semester “was literally hell.”
“I quickly switched and found something I was much more passionate about, which I didn’t think was even possible. I think that college,
in general, is an area to explore your options through majors,” Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald said she chose her major because of her passion for the environment, wildlife and conservation.
“My passion has definitely grown as I got into more major-specific courses and I was able to grasp what I really wanted to know… once I found the major I was interested in, I haven’t felt my passion waver,” Fitzgerald said.
Students formerly in STEM programs (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) changed majors at a rate of 35 percent, with 52 percent
of math students choosing a new major, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Non-STEM majors changed at a lower rate of 29
Ferris pre-pharmacy freshmen Grace Jipping said that students might change out of STEM majors more frequently because of the difficulty
of math classes and because “most of the subjects are kind of interconnected so they can just switch from math to science and that kind of
Another recent study performed by psychologists, titled “Implicit Theories of Interest: Finding Your Passion or Developing It?”, suggests
people who believe a passion will provide endless motivation and that pursuing it won’t be difficult, lose interest quickly when they realize
this isn’t the case.
“Urging people to find their passion may lead them to put all their eggs in one basket but then to drop that basket when it becomes difficult to carry,” the study said. Instead, the study suggests that understanding that interests, like relationships, require work to grow can help people continue to pursue those interests.
Fitzgerald said in her first semester, she was able to narrow down what she was passionate about and found her new major through a biology
course that was required for pre-medicine.
Exploring different interests is another main point in the theories of interest study, which suggests that continuously exploring new interests helps people find and develop their passions. For students unsure about their passion, Ferris offers a career and education planning class (CARE 102) to help students find a major that they consider attractive.