Majors have minor importance


Garrett Paulus

A Carlmont student stresses over the difficult decision of choosing a major.

Choosing a college major; the most significant decision for a teenager. 

The transition from high school to college is one of the first steps to adulthood. It is filled with decisions and big choices. When you are a fresh 17 or 18-year-old, you have to make a choice that will forever put you on a path for your future. 

Or will it?

80% of undergraduate students change their major at least once before getting their degree, according to, a site for college planning.

Orthopedic surgeon and Chief of Sports Medicine Steve McGrath changed his major from mechanical engineering to undeclared, and then to physiology and cell biology. These changes led him to his current position at Kaiser Permanente in Vallejo, CA.

“I wanted to fly jets or become a commercial flyer, so my first thought was to go to the naval academy. The naval academy likes engineers, so I chose my major based on what they like to see: an engineering major,” McGrath said.

After being in college for a year at the University of California, Santa Barbara, McGrath recognized that mechanical engineering wasn’t for him. His process of enrolling as an engineer to help him get into the naval academy didn’t work, and he was stuck. 

“The intensity of all the people taking engineering drove me away from the major, and they were so smart and dedicated to it. I knew this path wasn’t for me because I was only doing it to get into the naval academy,” McGrath said.

During the transition out of his engineering major, McGrath was advised by his dean to go to the registrar’s office for a major change form. He went to the office, filled out a form, and was pulled out of that major.

“It was easy pulling out and being undeclared. I went to the registrar’s office and got a form, and in a week or so, I was changed into an undeclared major. It was a straightforward process and easy to do,” McGrath said.

According to the University of California Berkeley’s website, the process of changing majors includes a few steps. One must first meet with your academic advisor about changing your major. Your academic advisor will then let you know if the major that you express interest in is available.

McGrath submitted his form to enroll as undeclared, and he was approved. During McGrath’s time being an undeclared major, he went out to the local Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital as a volunteer. An advisor told him it was an excellent opportunity to get into the medical field.

“I became a volunteer. That helped because I became more comfortable working in the emergency room. Just helping out around there got me intrigued, and it hit me, and I knew I wanted to do this,” McGrath said.

McGrath submitted another form to become a physiology and cell biology major from his undeclared major. 

According to MyMajors, a website that provides help to people on everything majors, there are over 1,800 different majors to choose from during the first and second selection process.

Since McGrath knew that his college major didn’t matter, he wasn’t worried about enrolling in engineering. 

“It was not a big decision for two big reasons. Number one, I only went into the engineering enrollment because I knew I could change my major, and I was only doing it to get into the Naval Academy. Number two, I didn’t really care what major I was going to enroll into because, again, I knew I could change it,” McGrath said.

During the process of applying for college, McGrath had known that the selection of a college major wasn’t as severe as students nowadays think it is. The standard narrative is that college majors are an immense choice in a high schooler’s life. Sasha Belov, a senior at Carlmont, says that deciding on a college major is a critical decision in adulthood.

“For me, it’s a huge decision, and it’s basically impacting the rest of my life. You want to choose the right major because it is changing your life, putting you on the path for various jobs and career paths. You don’t want to choose the wrong path. I’ve been thinking about this decision a lot, and it’s very stressful,” Belov said.

According to Arizona State University’s website, high school students fear that the decision they make will ruin the rest of their college careers. However, Arizona State’s website also states that students may change their major at least once before graduating.

Belov applied to the University of Columbia and quite a few UC’s. According to The University of Columbia’s website, the process of changing your major includes a few steps. After the period for selecting a major has passed, you have to inform your advising dean, and they will supply you with a change of major form. This process may sound familiar because this is what McGrath did when he wanted to change his major.

Belov intends to become a lawyer, with her college major being pre-law, but she has concerns about if it’s the right fit for her. She’s also planning on having a backup in business.

“For now, I’m aiming for pre-law, but I don’t know if I’ll want to be a lawyer in two years or even one year, so it’s hard to decide whether I want to stick with this college major or go with my business major,” Belov said.

Along with Belov, many other students applying to colleges are torn between their decisions. They don’t know that the process of changing majors is simple.

Andrew Ghazouli, a senior at Carlmont, says that he is nervous about choosing majors because of the financial responsibilities it requires. Ghazouli is planning on majoring in computer science which is on BestColleges top 10 list for most common majors.

“As of right now, I feel like I’d enjoy a career in computer science, but I am pretty nervous that I might lose interest and have to change majors later on. Along with the process of changing majors, the price is making me even more nervous,” Ghazouli said.

According to Bright Futures Consulting, the average cost of changing majors for in-state students is $9,970 and $25,620 for out-of-state enrolled students.

While the process of changing majors is fairly simple, you must consider the responsibilities that come with changing to a whole new major.

“Even though I am nervous, I am excited and ready for whatever my college experience throws at me,” Belov said.