How I changed my major (and why I’m glad I did)

student looking into the distance on a tall stairway

My first try at picking a major did not go like I thought it would.

As I was finishing high school, I decided to major in Biomedical Engineering at Colorado State after tearing my ACL and having a knee surgery. That experience inspired me to pursue a career that could help people get back on their feet when they lose the ability to move like they used to.

Flash forward to when I came to the CSU campus for summer orientation and I sat down with an advisor to build my schedule. Once I told her I was an engineering major she said, “Oh, that’s easy! Here’s a list of all your classes for the next five years.” I looked down and read lots of words I didn’t understand; I couldn’t find a single class I was excited to take. I left with my schedule and a feeling that I needed to either buckle up or find something new.

As fate would have it, my advisor also worked with students who hadn’t chosen a major yet. I shared my hesitations about my major, and she referred me to an awesome website with every program at CSU. After some research, I got excited about majors I had never thought of like Social Work, Anthropology, and Nutrition and Food Science. I realized that CSU was kind of designed to allow me to explore.

I looked at the required classes for all of the majors I liked. (This is something I highly recommend because it tells you exactly what you’ll be doing semester by semester!) Neuroscience seemed interesting, exciting, and unique; it was a major I didn’t even know existed. It also required the classes I was already in, so I was already on track. I found the Neuroscience advisor’s info and made an appointment. He helped me fill out the paperwork (one page) right there in that meeting. After I dropped it off at the registrar’s office, I had a new major!

Three-and-a-half years later, I am graduating with my Neuroscience degree and a concentration in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience. I even picked up a minor in Biomedical Sciences along the way. I plan to apply to physician’s assistant school and go into the medical field after I graduate … and I’m happy to say I’m still working toward my goal of helping others in their medical journeys.

Yes, my first try at picking a major didn’t go as planned, but it turns out that changing my major allowed me to approach my dreams from a different angle — one I am more excited about. I am so thankful for the opportunity I’ve had at CSU to explore and pursue a passion I didn’t know I had, and I’m glad I found a path I couldn’t have even imagined for myself when I was in high school.

My advice to anyone searching for a major is to give yourself grace to try new things and permission to change your mind. I truly believe that the majority of students are on some level of undecided when they start out. It really is about the journey in college: the clubs you join, the hobbies you pick up, and the interests you develop that all turn into a passion and a life direction. Don’t put all the pressure on the perfect major to make a perfect college experience; it’s the broader experience that makes you into the person you will become!

Thinking about a major change?

Here’s some more information on changing majors, timelines to change majors, and how to make a major change request prior to coming to CSU.

allie hare headshot

Allie Hare recently graduated with a degree in Neuroscience. In her time at CSU, she was part of the honors program, tutored chemistry, led Bible studies for a campus ministry called the Navigators, and conducted human-based research in the Sensorimotor Neuroimaging Lab on campus. She drinks excessive amounts of tea, loves to hike, and spends time outside whenever she can.

Prairie Smallwood

Prairie Smallwood is a writer and content creator for the Office of Admissions at Colorado State University. She is passionate about education and exploration, and knows that going to college can be both an adventure and an overwhelming experience. She aims to create content that helps students through that journey — the wonderful, the scary, and everything in between.