College of LAS « Illinois

For parents

Major changes

It is the end of the second week of the semester and we have been seeing lots of students in the LAS Student Academic Affairs office since before the start of classes. Some are here with last-minute questions about their registration for fall, but a good many are here to change their majors, since this is one of five times each year that we designate for students to do that.

It is not unusual for undergraduates to change their major—according to a recent survey of colleges and universities, about 60 percent of students change their major at least once during their undergraduate career. At Illinois, most students declare a major at the time they are admitted, although some students, like those admitted to the Division of General Studies, don’t do so until the end of their freshman or sophomore year.

If your student indicates that she or he is thinking about a change in major, here are a few things to consider:

  • Encourage them to articulate the reasons they are thinking about a change. Have they discussed their interest in changing with an advisor? Have they taken at least one course in the proposed new major? Some of our majors require students to meet with an advisor or to complete a set of introductory courses before they are eligible to declare the major.
  • We generally encourage first-year students to wait to change their major until after their first semester, since most are still making the adjustment to college-level work and may not have a good feel for their chosen major yet.
  • Students who change their major may need additional time to graduate, but not always. Some students make up the time by taking summer courses or a heavier course load during the fall and spring.
  • Some students are reluctant to investigate a change of major, even if they don’t particularly like their chosen major, or their grades suggest that a change may be a good idea. Remind your student that they can always discuss their major progress with a department or college advisor or dean to see how they are doing, and to see whether there are other options open to them.

Karen Carney
Associate Dean