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How Many College Students Change Their Major? (& Why It’s Fine)

How Many College Students Change Their Major? (& Why It’s Fine)

In Q&A #6, you’ll learn the answer to these 2 questions:

  • How many college students change their major?”
  • How many students enter college without declaring a major?”

We’ll also explore the benefits and things to consider when deciding if changing your major or going into college undeclared is right for you.


“How many college students change their major?”

Changing your major in college is not an easy decision.

It might mean taking extra classes, being in school an extra year, or taking out additional student loans,

It could also mean making a major adjustment to the future you were picturing for yourself, which can be stressful by itself.

Suffice to say, either of these decisions could induce some anxiety. It would be a good feeling to to know if you’re the only person feeling this way.

What you’ll find is that switching majors is pretty common.

In fact, more so than you’d probably think.

If you are in this situation, hopefully the numbers below relieve some of the stress you may be feeling about changing majors or entering college “undeclared”.

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1/3 of college students change their major within 3 years.

A lot of students change their major. If you are considering doing it, you aren’t alone.

The study shows that students who start a major in mathematics or natural sciences are more likely than others to switch.

See? A lot of college students change their majors.

If you think changing your major is right for you, it’s best to switch as soon as possible. Talk it over with your parents first, then email your advisor to get the process going.


You could get an unexpected minor in something.

If you change your major, you’ll have had the opportunity to take classes you wouldn’t have otherwise.

In fact, you may be able to get a minor in your original degree field.

At the very least, you’ll be able to use the coursework you took as a differentiator when interviewing for jobs.

For example, if an Event Planning major wanted to swap fields, they could still utilize the organizational, networking and planning skills they’ve acquired with many other jobs.

Something To Consider:

A college degree is not always the end, even (or especially) after college.

Many people change majors, and even more change their career paths completely once college ends.

True, some professions require very specific degrees to enter the field. If you want to be a doctor, for example, you’ll eventually have to go through medical school.

But plenty of people end up with a job they love that has nothing to do with their degree.

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About 20% of students enter college as “undeclared”.

Most schools offer students 1-2 years of exploring tracks and various classes before asking them to choose a major.

This means you could have up to 4 semesters of college to see what you like before deciding.

Most colleges will set undeclared students up with an advisor that “tracks” them along 1-2 possible career paths.


Undeclared students have a bit longer to ease into the college experience, perhaps socializing more or taking courses they wanted to take in high school but never did.

For example, I was forced to enter college as an undeclared student because my high school GPA was too low for my major.

But I am very happy things went this way, even if I wasn’t back then.

I met the woman that I would eventually beg to be my advisor during that first semester and took classes that interested me but weren’t part of my major.

I was also required to take a First Year Seminar class. This book from that class changed my life.

And for what it’s worth, I still graduated on time.

Something To Consider

After 2 years, an undeclared student will generally have completed most of their elective courses and possibly some core classes, too.

Their junior and senior year might be a sprint in terms of classwork. It’s challenging, but doable.

If you decide to go undeclared and still want to to graduate in 4 years, keep in mind:

  • You may need to take 18 credits (or equivalent) during your final 4 semesters to graduate on time. If you work a part-time job, expect to have a busy schedule.
  • You won’t have as much flexibility when it comes to picking classes, meaning you may need to take 2-3 of your major’s most difficult courses in the same semester instead of spreading them out.
  • You may need to take summer classes or extra online courses.


Question: How many college students change their major?

Answer: 1/3 of all college students change their major.

Question: How many college students enter college as “undeclared”?

Answer: About 20% of students.

Keep in mind that changing majors or going in as undeclared will result in a different 4-year course track than most, but it is doable.

But changing your major or being undeclared is certainly not as rare as you’d think.

If you’d like to receive a free copy of last week’s College Savings Newsletter with $99+ in discounts on college life “necessities” like food, textbooks, and clothing, click here.

For more “Q&A” posts, where I answer questions asked frequently by college students, click here.