Published: Oct. 5, 2022

student on campus

During your time in college, you may discover new interests and skills. And with that, you might be thinking about changing your major. This is common, and many students change their major or add a second major in their first year. If you’re thinking about exploring other academic programs, here are a few tips to help you make your decision.


Take time to reflect

Understanding more about why you want to switch your major can help with your decision. Take some time to reflect on your academic experience so far and ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you feeling appropriately challenged in your courses? Have you lost interest, motivation or focus?

  • Are you struggling to manage your coursework and do well?

  • Is it unclear how your current major relates to careers and jobs you’re interested in once you graduate?

  • Is there anything that has changed between when you declared your major and where you are now? 


There are no wrong answers to these questions—be honest with yourself and aware of how you feel when you think about your current academic path. Your answers can help you make the decision to change your major or maybe add another major, minor or certificate to your academic experience. 


Explore different paths 

If you’re trying to decide if you should change your major, sometimes it can help to reverse the way you think about majors—start by thinking about career options and job roles that sound appealing. There are online tools, like What Can I Do with This Major? and the Majors Card Sort, that can help you explore and narrow down your interests. Or try the Design Your Life mind map for a nonlinear way to reflect on your possibilities.


YouScience is a free assessment offered through Career Services. It uses a series of brain games to measure your aptitudes (abilities most important to career success). The results include a review of your natural strengths and interests, and how they match to potential careers. You can then explore different academic programs that can help you get started in those careers. To find out more about YouScience and get access, connect with Career Services during office hours.


Research other academic programs

Once you have narrowed down a few majors of interest, do some research. Run a degree audit to understand the credit hours you will need to graduate. What courses are required, and do they sound interesting? How much additional time will it take if you change your major? Department websites and the University Catalog are also great places to check for information. 


If a major of interest will require additional courses or time investments that don’t align with your goals, consider exploring minor or certificate options in these areas instead.


Speaking with an academic advisor is another great way to learn more about the curricular details of new academic programs. It’s also an opportunity to ask questions about the area of study so you can check whether it will be a good fit for your goals. Visit Advising Open Hours or make an appointment with your advisor. 


Ralphie’s Advising Help Lab is also a great resource to get advising help. While the lab doesn't replace appointments with your academic advisor, it is a supplemental resource that allows you to access general advising or enrollment help quickly and conveniently. The help lab’s advisors can assist with things like dropping courses, switching majors and answering any advising questions you may have.


Ask others

Reach out to your fellow Buffs who are currently pursuing degrees in the academic programs you’re interested in and ask questions. Your peers can be great resources as you explore, and can share a first-hand account of what it’s like to be a student in that program. 


If you don’t know any students who are studying in your areas of interest, meet with your academic advisor or a career development advisor. They can help you connect with students and professionals in those areas.


Test it out

Look for volunteer opportunities or events to further explore your interests. For example, you could volunteer as a peer tutor or apply to be a TA if you’re interested in teaching. Many academic departments also host events with guest speakers and lecturers that are open to everyone. Check out upcoming student events and browse the CU Events Calendar to find upcoming events.


As you begin to think about spring course registration, consider taking an introductory class from a major you’re interested in before making the change. This can be a good way to gauge whether you enjoy the subject area and gain a clear understanding of the field.


Learn more about exploring majors and careers.