Changing Majors – Why and how?
When entering University, students don’t always know what their true passion is. They may choose a major because that’s what their older sibling took, because they don’t know what else to take or because that’s what they were accepted for. Or maybe, they entered University thinking that their true passion and desire was to become a doctor/engineer/journalist/teacher/etc. and then they realize that their true interests lie in something else.
Whatever the reason, they may want to change majors. Many students change their majors after their first semester or first year because their original degree didn’t turn out to be what they expected. While this seems like a big change, and it can be, it is not uncommon for students to have a change of heart.
There are two types of changes. One is an “Internal Program Transfer” where a student would change from one degree program to another. For example, this would look like a student in a Bachelor of Science changing into a Bachelor of Arts. The other type of change is to change the specialization within a degree program. This would look like a student changing from a major in History to a major in English within a Bachelor of Arts.
Depending on the type of switch your student wants to make, this will affect the steps they must go through.
For an Internal Program Transfer, students must actually apply to Admissions Services as an internal applicant (meaning that they are a current student at the University of Guelph). There are specific deadlines for this and an application form must be filled out. Admissions Services will evaluate the student’s grades and suitability for the program. Click here for a Quick Fact Sheet from the Undergraduate Academic Information Centre about Internal Program Transfer. You have to click on the Internal Program Transfer pdf. Click here for admissions requirements as it's different for different programs. Click here for deadlines (generally May 1). And lastly, click here for information about how to actually apply.
To change a specialization (i.e. History to English), it is a bit easier of a process. To do this, they need to visit their Program Counsellor and get a special form filled out. Click here for a list of Program Counsellors.
Note that some specializations do not allow students to enter the program before or beyond a specific semester level and some specializations may require a minimum average for entry. Students will also need to catch up on courses they may have missed (same as an internal program transfer).
Having worked with first year students for the past three years, degree and specialization changes is an issue that comes up a lot. University is a time of learning about oneself and finding new passions. This may lead to a change in your students’ interests. I urge you, as parents, to support your student in this. I have worked with numerous students whose parents “strongly encourage” them to study a certain thing, even if that certain thing isn’t their passion. This leads to much frustration and lack of motivation for students.
I hope that you are able to provide that support to your student may need to find their true passion. Having the opportunity to study and pursue something that you are passionate about is an incredible gift and privilege. As my Dad always says, “Do what you love and you will be successful! And even if you're not, at least you'll love what you do!”