The scariest thing I ever did in university was switching programs.
I still remember sitting in the car during my second term, when my mom turned around to me and asked me if I wanted to switch programs. Going into university, I had my mind set on becoming a veterinarian. But I struggled through my first year in my science-based courses. The only thing holding up my GPA was my English courses for my double major. I never even considered that there was a way out of the pit that I had dug for myself.
My mom offered me a lifeboat, but I had no idea to where I was going to paddle. I come from a family of science professionals, where I always felt like a black sheep in heels and a lab coat. My Cantonese parents are pretty non-traditional (having immigrated here when they were still young) but I never expected them to support me in any non-science or math-related field. I threw on a life jacket, got in the lifeboat, and paddled my way straight to the Academic Advising Office.
Before you switch into a new program, you need to be prepared to answer five questions:
1. How Competitive Is The Program To Get Into?
You’re going to be competing with every single first-year applicant. If your program was competitive coming into university/college, it would be even more competitive trying to switch into it. If your CGPA is not strong enough, consider taking other courses to help boost it
2) Are You Starting From Square One?
All programs have different requirements. I tried to switch into a highly competitive management program from biology. Unfortunately, only one of my courses was accepted as a course equivalent for the first year program requirements. My early summer of undergrad, I took summer school to catch up with the first year requirements that are open to everyone to try to get into the program.
3) How Many Course Credits Do You Currently Have?
Check with your school to see if you have any restrictions for switching programs. For my school, if you passed 10.0 credits (the equivalent of having taken 20 courses), you were ineligible to change programs. The school saw it as you having completed half of your program, and didn’t want you to switch.
4) Are You Prepared For Failure?
After putting in all of the time, and the effort, my CGPA simply wasn’t strong enough to get me into my program of choice. I filled my second year of university with English classes for my second major and a few interest courses to hopefully boost my CGPA. I had never felt so low in my life at that point, and the results were devastating. What goes hand-in-hand in being prepared for failure, is making sure you have a backup plan.
5) What Will You Do With The Opportunities That Present Themselves To You?
I let myself cry for two nights before I decided to take control of my future. I woke up the next morning at 4:00 AM and parked myself in front of Academic Advising to see my academic counsellor. It was the best decision I ever made. I enrolled in a Media Studies major that allowed me to explore ethics, reporting, psychology, public relations, and marketing. Instead of wasting my credits that were to go towards a management program, I double minored in economics and English. I later found out that a majority of my professors completely saw how Media Studies, Economics, and English all went hand in hand. I had finally found a program that I belonged in.
If you can answer these five all critical questions, then you are ready to begin the journey of switching programs. Good luck.
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.