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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

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Major changes

Texas+A%26amp%3BM+officials+say+it+is+common+for+STEM+students+to+switch+majors+within+science+fields.
Photo by Photo by: C. Morgan Engel

Texas A&M officials say it is common for STEM students to switch majors within science fields.

Science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, are often sought after majors for many freshmen at Texas A&M. However, these students may change their minds once they begin their first-year courses.
Many science degrees have similar first-year coursework, according to biology Academic Advisor Tara Hardin. If a student wants to change their major within STEM, Hardin suggests going to the career center, or other student services for advice on which major to choose.
“One of the things that we always suggest is that they visit with the Student Counseling Services because there is an aptitude test they can provide that can help a student narrow down what jobs they might like, and from there they’re able to backtrack to the majors that feed into those jobs,” Hardin said.
Hardin said it is not uncommon for students to change between science majors.
“It’s getting to be more common, but it’s really based on what a student wants to focus on for their later work,” Hardin said. “Again, for the first few years anything in science is going to have a lot of that science major biology and chemistry.”
Originally an ocean and coastal resources major with a masters in marine management resources at Texas A&M-Galveston, environmental geosciences junior Cole Perry later transferred to A&M and changed his major, which he said was relatively easy for him.
“All I did was email one of the advisors in the geosciences department and I got in,” Perry said. “It’s the same focus on the science, but there are little aspects different with a focus on waste treatment and seismic imaging rather than just coastal science.”
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Geosciences Christian Brannstrom said it is common for students to start in engineering and change to a major within the College of Geosciences.
“I think there’s two reasons, in simple ways it’s because they don’t like engineering or engineering doesn’t like them,” Brannstrom said. “ It’s either because of grades, if they haven’t done well in some of their engineering classes, or it’s because they realize that they don’t want to be an engineer.”
Brannstrom said that a problem students often face is having low GPAs that put them on academic probation for a semester. He also make clear he is willing to work with the students to get them where they need to be.
“If someone does poorly in engineering, that doesn’t mean that they’re a bad student,” Brannstrom said. “They may do perfectly well in a science degree program like geology or oceanography or meteorology or geographic information science, so I try to work with them, even if they come with a GPA that’s been kind of battered by engineering.”
Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Mark Weichold said that although they do not conduct exit interviews for students who leave the College of Engineering, he would guess that the career aspirations they have are better suited through another major.
“What we’re seeing is once the students get into the discipline after their first year, they’re much less likely to switch from one engineering discipline to another,” Weichold said. “In other words, they’re making a much more informed decision after that freshman year. We’re optimistic that this is going to have a positive impact on the persistence of the students in engineering and ultimately their graduation out of engineering.”

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