A major switch: Starting a new career path


Photo illustration (Igor Colonno | The Union)

“Your application is no longer valid,” a California Polytechnic University Pomona administrative assistant said.

Those were some of the first words I heard when visiting the Pomona campus for the first time.

The beginning of my college career did not go as I anticipated.

Apparently, there was trouble sending over my transcripts and the deadline was not met.

I was stressed about what to do next since Pomona was the only college that accepted my application after I graduated high school in 2014.

Two weeks later, I got a letter from Pomona notifying me that my application was processed along with my on-campus living information.

I was left dumbfounded as to why there was a sudden change.

When figuring out what to study in college, the main factor in my mind was to make enough money to support my family.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2015, engineers earned a median annual wage of $90,060.

The advice from my counselors and from all the experience I had in taking advanced placement courses in math and science also availed my choice.

But personally, there was still doubt in my mind.

Once I started taking engineering courses at Pomona, I quickly realized my passion for the field didn’t match the other students.

When working on projects I would help them but would not generate any ideas of my own.

I felt that the gazes of other students were telling me I was not putting in the same amount of effort.

They were right.

Due to financial issues and scarce opportunities to get into engineering courses at Pomona, I stopped attending.

According to Prosperity For All, the average dropout rate for first-year college students in the U.S. was 24.3% in the years 2015-2020.

I felt like a failure after this decision.

For two years I did not do anything with my academic career and I became depressed.

The path that I went down was filled with difficulties and personal struggles that unsettled my mind.

After applying and submitting my transcripts, I returned to school in the 2017 fall semester at El Camino College.

I went to career counseling to help me figure out what to study while I was taking some courses.

It was time to find a new career path.

The counseling and career workshops I attended started to help get me on the right track.

However, they were not helpful in alleviating the stigma around switching majors I would frequently see online.

In addition to the negative perception of switching majors, the stress of having lost some academic years and accumulated debt made my decision to switch majors more difficult.

According to the Student Research Foundation, in the 2011-2012 academic year 32% of engineering majors switched their major.

Switching majors should not be seen as a negative endeavor but as an opportunity to learn and figure out what you want to do when you’re at a delicate point in life.

At the time I was supposed to be taking courses for engineering, I discovered interest and enjoyment in writing while I was taking English courses.

After doing some research I learned about El Camino’s journalism program.

This was my opportunity for a new start and so I started taking journalism courses.

Determining your life path should be done at your own pace.

With two semesters as a staff writer for The Union under my belt, I believe I have found the path I want to go down in life.