Switching college majors part of the process

WASHINGTON, D.C.–Many current and former college students interviewed this week in Northwest Washington, D.C. have changed their majors in college as they discovered their passions and interests on campus, while others fall in love with their major and stick with it in order to pursue a career in that field.

Sarah Menke-Fish, a professor of Film and Media Arts at American University, thought she would major in music and home economics when she enrolled in the University of Northern Iowa, but ended up changing her mind after two months when she discovered her passion for speech.

Idegbuwa Karba talks about why she chose to major in psychology at Howard University. By Courtney Cohn

“I thoroughly loved it and did really well in it,” Menke-Fish said.

Menke-Fish is not alone.

According to an April 2017 report from the University of Memphis, “About 40% of college students switch majors at least once, suggesting that major choice is a process rather than a single decision.”

Menke-Fish ended up majoring in speech theater teaching and radio television broadcasting, which led to many careers involving both teaching and acting. She also notices that many of her students switch majors in college like she did.

She acknowledges that people think they know what they’ll enjoy and want to study as they enter college, but may discover that they excel in a different area and want to find a career in that field instead.

Zerline Hughes discussed choosing to major in journalism at Howard University. By Courtney Cohn

However, Zerline Hughes, 40, a freelance writer, always knew she wanted to study journalism and kept that major at Howard University.

“I didn’t ever want to change,” said Hughes, who described herself as a freelance writer. “Howard University had a good journalism program and I thought it was the best fit for me and my goals.”

Like Hughes, Idegbuwa Karba, 19, has known what she wanted to major in since high school, and does not want to switch. 

Karba majors in psychology at Howard University and said she doesn’t plan on changing.

Kim Kinner, now a second grade teacher, majored in mass communications and marketing in order to find a high-paying job in that field. She ended up switching to an education major in graduate school when she realized her passion for the field even though it might not come with the same paycheck.

“Money isn’t worth it,” Kinner said. “I wanted a career my heart was in.”