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Burning out or time to change?

  1. Nov 10, 2014 #1
    For all of you that have finished your undergrad: I always hear about people burning out, which is completely understandable, given how stressful classes can be. But how do you differentiate between a burn out and a message that it might be time to change your major?

    I feel like I have a small burn out halfway through each semester, I'm nervous if this is a message that I might need to change my major. I've never even thought of doing anything else (at least not seriously).
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 10, 2014 #2


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    1. Do you still enjoy what you're studying? You don't have to look forward to all of your lectures. In fact it's okay to even hate a few of them. But up to this point, do you get any enjoyment from your studies?
    2. Are you academically successful? It's fine to face some challenges and stuggle with a few courses, but are your grades slipping below an acceptable level for your goals. If, for example, you're hoping to make it into graduate school, your GPA should be well above a 3.0 on a 4.0 point scale. And you should have at least a couple course that you've done outstanding in.
    3. When you have free time are you still interested in your major? Do you still read up on interesting developments in the field (even on a superficial level)? Do you take the time to investigate possibilities for graduate school, in terms of what projects you might be interested in working on? I certainly don't mean that you need to spend every waking minute going through journals online. Rather, if you had some extra time, caught up on your assignments, etc. would you read up on things in the field that interest you?
    4. Do you have and explore your own ideas outside of class time? Do those ideas relate to your major? Again, would you choose to do such things if you had some extra time?
    5. Are you finding yourself pre-occupied with another field? Are you developing other interests? It's fine to be interested in multiple things, but if you're developing another love, are you ready to seriously explore that?
    6. Why are you in the program in the first place? Did you choose it because you want to prove to the world that you're intelligent? (There are many ways to do that). Did you feel pressured into it? Were you fascinated by the popular science media, but now you've learned that it's not black holes and cats that are both dead and alive at the same time, but eigenvectors, oscilloscopes and WTF is a waveguide?
    Unfortunately, there's no clear threshold for when it's time to quit. Everyone get's burned out to some degree or another at some point. We all have days where we don't want to look at another problem or the thought of sitting through another lecture with a particularly boring professor makes your stomach churn. Everyone will answer negatively to some of the above questions at some point.

    I think the key is really when they start to accumulate, or when you go through an entire semester or more constantly feeling like you're in the wrong program... then maybe it is time to consider changing majors.
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