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Changing Majors Late, Taking Awhile to Finish

  1. Feb 21, 2016 #1
    Hello Physics Forums,

    I have been a member here for some time, and though I keep up with many of the forum discussions, I have never posted anything until now. So here's my deal. My first two years of college were spent at a community college planning to be an economics major. By the time I transferred to a University I decided I wanted to simply pursue math, even though I hadn't even taken calculus. I made the switch, and as far as personal enjoyment and grades are concerned, everything has gone reasonably well (this is my second semester at the University). However, as I am sure most of you are well aware as you read this, I am really behind, and it is going to take me quite a bit more than the typical four years to graduate, even while taking a heavy course load.

    My plans are to go to grad school for a master's in either statistics or math. I am wondering if this late switch, and the time it will take me to graduate, will look poorly to Universities where I apply? I have seen somewhat similar discussions, but none of them (that I have been able to read, of course) seem to address a situation or question particularly similar to mine?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 21, 2016 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    Why worry? What difference does it make? It's not like you have a time machine and can change the past. Don't worry about it. Just work hard in your classes.
  4. Feb 21, 2016 #3

    Fervent Freyja

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    Consider yourself well-rounded. Why confine yourself to one area to begin with just because many others do so? This is putting too much power in the hands of others. You cannot see these people as any better than you or be intimidated. What are your standards and expectations of them? Why so trusting of people to present information that you pay dearly for to process?

    Really, this shouldn't be looked at any differently than continuing education.
  5. Feb 21, 2016 #4


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    In general taking longer because you decided on a different direction won't have much of an effect on the decision of graduate admissions committees. Lots of really good students take a few extra years to finish and there can be many reasons for this. Taking an extra year or two to decide on an academic path is a perfectly legitimate reason for taking extra time. What matters is how well you do on that path once you've decided on it.
  6. Feb 21, 2016 #5
    I agree with the other comments. Should have no affect. If anything... it could help you.
  7. Feb 21, 2016 #6
    Vanadium - Fair questions. You're right, there is nothing I can do, but it is hard not to worry sometimes, I guess.

    Fervent Freyja - Nice questions, that does sound like a good way of looking at it.

    Choppy - That's encouraging. I honestly wasn't sure if this was common. For some reason most of my friends appeared to have everything together, and will graduate quite a bit sooner than me. So it's nice to hear I am not alone.

    mechpeac - Glad to hear it.

    Thanks everyone for the responses. This is such a great forum.
  8. Feb 21, 2016 #7
    Don't worry too much about it. Only a minority of students graduate in 4 years in the degree program they started in.

    Would you rather be stuck in a career you don't like for the rest of your life because you didn't want to spend an extra year in college?
  9. Feb 21, 2016 #8

    Fervent Freyja

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    "Fervent Freyja - Nice questions, that does sound like a good way of looking at it."

    Changing majors within the first two years seems to be common. There is too much stress on young adults to declare a major before they even finish high school. That is unrealistic. It is difficult to gauge what that career really consists of without having encountered some basic coursework in that area, too many ideals and guesswork are involved in making that decision so early on. Beginning college by following some list doesn't give much room to follow your own curiosity after you meet general requirements. You would have likely opted for courses that led you to declare mathematics anyway.
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