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Should I Change My Program?

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advising-changing-programBy Anna Sommer
Team Manager, Academic Advising at American Public University

For many people working towards a college degree centers around selecting the right degree program, taking the right courses, and learning the right skills or knowledge that will help you get the right job. The need to get it all right creates a lot of pressure and can lead you to second guessing your degree choice or send you into a cycle of changing your degree multiple times. If you are thinking about changing your program, here are two things to consider:

Changing your program has implications on your academic progress, transfer credit, and time frame for graduation.

Every program has a specific set of courses and credits that need to be completed in order for you to graduate. Additionally, each program’s requirements are determined by the catalog year in which you enroll into that program. Any time you change your program, you will be looking at a different set of requirements, and potentially, a different catalog year. This means any previously awarded transfer credit and any previously completed university coursework needs to be re-evaluated towards your new program and its requirements. For some students, this results in losing credit. It can also extend the time it takes to complete your degree in some cases. It’s really important that you work with an academic advisor and seek out information in advance so that you understand how changing your program will impact you personally.

A degree should be about preparing for life, not a job.

A college degree is meant to help prepare you for life, and life is made up of many things: a career that will span 50 years or more, working in and contributing to a community, creating meaningful relationships with others, and exploring the world around you. Your degree impacts all of these areas. While registering for classes, taking courses, and writing papers, you are also learning how to navigate a path, plan ahead and manage your time, seek out information and apply it to many areas, work with people from diverse backgrounds, understand the viewpoints of others, communicate effectively, ask for help when needed, and much more.

Your degree might feel immediate, but it’s really about your life as a whole. This means you should think, then reflect, then think and reflect some more. Instead of just looking at how a degree will help you get the job you want right now, look at how a degree will help you create the life you want. Consider your interests, your career ambitions, places in which you want to visit or live, and experiences you want to have. College is not just a class you need to get through; it’s people you get to work with, knowledge you are able to gain, time you get to spend understanding how to learn, and time you spend investing in yourself. Consider all of these things in relation to each program you are considering. How could each program help in these areas? How would each program assist you in creating your future?

Changing your degree program can be a big decision, and it’s a decision you want to get right. However, it’s not really about right and wrong; it’s about understanding how a program or a possible program change will impact you now and in the future. It’s important to remember that there isn’t one perfect degree, and a degree is really more about an experience that you chose to help you create the life you want.

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