Thinking About Switching Programs? That’s Okay!

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By Lisa Pires
switching programs pug wrapped in blanket
Photo by Matthew Henry via Unsplash

As classes wind down, exams wrap up and the holiday break approaches, you might find that you can finally take a deep breath — possibly the first deep breath you’ve taken all semester. Some of you might feel relieved to have made it through the semester, some of you might feel proud of everything you’ve accomplished . . . and some of you might feel uneasy. Perhaps you were disinterested in your classes or struggled with your coursework, but something just feels off. You find yourself thinking, “Did I choose the right program?” Or “I thought I was passionate about this work, but now I’m not so sure…” Is switching programs worth it?

If you’re feeling unsure of your program choice, you’re not alone.

And I have facts to back it up. According to this recent Statistics Canada report, more than 10 percent of Canadian students do not continue in their undergraduate degree program after the first year. And that number is higher for college students. If you think about how many students start a post-secondary program every year, those numbers are no joke.

Now that you know you’re not an enigma, I encourage you to talk to your family, friends, boss, etc. about your feelings over the holiday break. I bet you’ll come across so many stories that sound like yours. Most likely, a lot of the folks you’ll speak to are currently working in an industry that they didn’t envision themselves in when their post-secondary career began! Take stock in the fact that everything worked out for them and their careers eventually fell into place — just like they will for you too.

Remember to relax over the holidays.

After some time away from your studies, you may realize that you are in the right program for you. And that the stress of your coursework just skewed your thinking a little.

But, if you’re still feeling unsure of your program once you return in the new year, I suggest actioning those feelings. Most post-secondary institutions have a career counselling department — find that department on-campus and pay them a visit. The folks who work there are trained to help you figure out which career path is best for you. They may also refer you to a transfer credit department on campus, which specializes in figuring out how to transfer your existing academic credits into a new program, so you don’t have to repeat courses. Take comfort in knowing that your school anticipates students changing their minds about their programs — they’ve hired whole departments to assist you through the process!

Lastly, remember that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to switching programs.

You are under no pressure to make a decision right now. You are also under no pressure to switch programs, even if you know you’re not in the right one for you. I promise that none of us know exactly what we want to do when we first start our post-secondary careers. Not knowing is okay. The most important thing to remember is to pursue something that makes your heart happy and keeps your brain hungry for knowledge. As long as that’s your goal, you’ll end up in the right program for you.