Change Your Major, Change Your Life

Students rehash why they changed their majors and the new paths it led them down.

Tandon's official form for changing majors requires students to fill out a reason. Hear from several students who realized they needed to change course. (Staff Photo by Chelsea Li)

As 17-year-olds, we’re asked to make the life-altering decision of choosing a potential major to study when we apply to universities. We’re expected to choose a subject that we want to pursue a career in, but how are we supposed to know what we want before stepping into the real world? 

Unsurprisingly, it’s not uncommon for students to change their majors, especially at NYU. We’re lucky to be able to take pretty much any class imaginable, from Principles of Financial Accounting in Stern to Theatre Studies in Tisch to Politics of Food in Gallatin. These three students switched their majors during the course of their college career, reflected on their decision and told WSN about their journey.

Junior Anelis Hernandez switched from studying Nursing and Global Public Health to a double major in Sociology in CAS and Global Public Health.

“I didn’t like the rigidity of the curriculum,” she said of the Rory Meyers College of Nursing. “I really wanted my undergrad experience to be more exploratory and I didn’t have that option with the nursing curriculum — the first two years were pre-reqs and the final two years are clinicals.” 

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There was no room for Hernandez to take electives, which was part of why she changed schools. 

“I wasn’t 110% committed to that career choice,” she said.

Similarly, Grace Sessinghaus, majoring in Recorded Music at the Clive Davis Institute at Tisch, switched her major from Vocal Performance at Steinhardt with a concentration in Classical Voice, because the program was different from what she expected.

“I thought it was gonna be focused on classical technique and staging and opera,” Sessinghaus said. “But it ended up just being a combination of both musical theatre and classical techniques because the program is very intertwined. I was also under the impression I could double major in music business.”

Sophomore Trudi Fried explained why she’s now at Gallatin, instead of studying her old Childhood Special Education major at Steinhardt.

“I liked it,” she said of her old major. “But I didn’t know if I wanted to be a teacher, and it was a program that had a lot of extra requirements so that you could meet state requirements for teaching.” 

Fried shortly changed her major to an individualized concentration with sustainability in Gallatin. 

Hernandez cited her Intro to Sociology class as a factor that led her to switch.

“I’m really into social norms and different identities and how that impacts public health,” Hernandez said. “That’s very much like both my majors combined, so I found the perfect fit.”

She even had enough room within her schedule to minor in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies and Spanish.

Sessinghaus revealed that she had always wanted to study recorded music, but that she originally wanted vocal training from Steinhardt. 

“When I found the Clive Davis Institute, I just knew that it was a better fit,” she said. “It had everything that I wanted inside of the major and I knew that I could always study opera outside of school.”

While Sessinghaus and Hernandez have no doubts about their new majors, Fried seems less confident. 

“I thought Gallatin was a good way of giving me some freedom,” she said. “I actually feel like there’s almost too much freedom, at least if you don’t really know exactly what you wanna do with it. For me, I feel like it’s not career-oriented enough.”

Overall, these three students seem to be glad that they switched majors. 

“Do it as many times as you need to,” Hernandez said. “Undergrad matters, but if you’re gonna go to grad school, that ends up mattering more.”

“NYU is very challenging,” Sessinghaus said. “So your major can kinda become your life and if you’re not enjoying it and you feel like it’s not fulfilling you and it’s not gonna lead you in the right career direction, then I would say that you should change it.”

Fried agreed, suggesting to “do a lot of research and be really sure about the major you’re switching into.”

Switching majors is a significant decision and takes a lot of courage, but based off of these students’ experiences, you should consider it if you have an inkling that your current major isn’t cutting it.

Email Addison Aloian at [email protected]

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