Game Developer to Scientist: The Major Change Process

Janessa Morelli on Sunday, 05 November 2017. Posted in Advising & Support



Depending on the university, between 50 and 70 percent of college students change their major at least once. It's one of the most important decisions people will make in their lifetime, and many people don't even enter college with a decided major, instead choosing to go in "undeclared".

I came to RIT as a Game Design & Development major. Like most college freshmen, I was excited to be involved in something so new and different than my high school experience had been, and I was determined to do well. I couldn't wait to learn coding and animation, however, I quickly became overwhelmed by the amount of work, and how little I understood the material, despite help from friends, hours of studying and practice per day and going to my professor's office hours. I quickly figured out that the program simply wasn't for me, and due to the lack of passion I felt for it, I knew my grades would suffer.

I decided to talk with my advisor, and she suggested withdrawing from the class I was struggling with the most, and talking with the career services office. I spent an hour talking with a counselor in this office, and it was one of the most helpful experiences I have had at RIT. She quickly pinpointed what my real passions were, and gave me a list of majors she thought would be right for me based on my interests. I was able to take a look at the potential jobs associated with these majors, as well as the classes required to get a degree in each one. Eventually, due to my love of the environment and animals, I ended up talking with the advisor and the head of the Biology department, and after several weeks, I was officially accepted into the program.

Becoming a Biology major was by far the most life-changing decision of my life, and it taught me that it is completely okay to not know what you want to do when you go to college. When I came here, I thought that in five years I would be a developer at a gaming company. Now, I plan to get my Ph.D. and become a scientist after I graduate. I'm passionate about my classes and my future, and although the material isn't easy, the discipline it takes to do well is worth it. Following your passion is the most important thing to do when deciding your major, and if you follow through, your future self will thank you.
Changing your major is completely normal, and you aren't a failure if you don't succeed or don't feel passionate about your first major. My main advice is to not worry about what you're going to major in or what your career will be before you're here. The only way you can find out your true passion is if you experience it, and that may not be possible while still in high school. Enjoy the college search process and the adventure that is finding the right major for you. Most of all, follow your gut instincts and your passion, and they'll lead you down the path that is right for you.