Thinking of changing your major?

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Pressure from parents, looking for a stable future career and the fear of not graduating are factors that have affected these students

By Minh Truong

Picking your future major in high school can be a tough decision to make, especially when you feel like there is a lack of options. For some students at Ryerson, those past choices don’t end up being the perfect fit.

But it’s not as easy and smooth as students may think.

Switching programs may be the best option for those students’ mental health and academic success. But fights with parents, late graduation, and potential lack of job security are among the challenges of pursuing that ideal career. 

Former business management student Jillian Maniquis understands what parental pressure feels like. Sometimes, the third-year media production student feels that her parents don’t understand her decision.  

Maniquis decided to study business management when she was in high school. “My high school was very business oriented and science oriented so it was really only one of the two paths, so I went towards the business path,” said Maniquis. “It was not necessarily what I wanted to do but it made sense because it was what I was learning.”

Once she finally got to Ryerson, Maniquis didn’t find the program appealing or enjoyable. After two years of business management, she decided a change was necessary. 

“I didn’t tell my parents until I got [into media production],” said Maniquis. When she finally told them, they couldn’t fully comprehend why she wanted  to change her major or what she was getting herself into.

For Maniquis, the fear of being cut off was non-existent since she pays her own tuition with the help of Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) to begin with. She gets questioned on her graduation date ‘here and there,’ a date she would have originally shared with her friends.

“It’s weird because all my friends have graduated already, at first it felt really lonesome,” said Maniquis. “It felt like I wasn’t succeeding and made me wonder why I didn’t just finish that business program.”

Similarly to Maniquis, Raymond Soe, a former engineering student, has faced some of these struggles after he switch programs. Now in his first year of business management, Soe faced a lot of arguments with his parents when he made his decision. He pays for his tuition all by himself, and now has the help of OSAP. 

“It was not necessarily what I wanted to do but it made sense because it was what I was learning”

“Before, [my parents] were willing to pay for engineering. But since I’m not in the program anymore, they are not helping me pay for [my tuition],” said Soe.

Another problem Maniquis faced when changing programs was the age gap between her and her classmates.

“You’re going into a world with people who are younger than you, there are some things that don’t translate well like pop culture and references,” said Maniquis. “I had my friends in business so it was harder for me to try making new friends.”

Maniquis, even though she faced a few bumps along the way, is happy with her new place as a student in the media production program at Ryerson. 

“Originally I wanted to be in creative industries because I felt like it was an amalgamation of business and media,” said Maniquis. “The more I did research the more I found that media production was the best way to go for me because I want to stretch that creative muscle of mine.”

Soe had previously made a switch within his program, spending half of the semester in mechanical engineering and the other half in industrial engineering. He didn’t enjoy the classes in either. 

“I was feeling listless so I decided to switch to industrial engineering,” said Soe. He believed that the change would make things better, but it felt no different than before. Soon enough, Soe made the jump to business management. 

His parents wanted him to finish the program and gave him an ultimatum. “There was back and forth fighting and … me trying to justify my [decisions to switch] the program,  but they wanted me to finish it [engineering].” said Soe.

“They tried to make me stay, and even guilt tripped me about how they paid [the tuition] while I was trying to justify my decision.” 

Soe couldn’t manage to work alongside his studies while he was in engineering. According to the program calendar, first-year students spends almost 26 hours in class.

He would have rather seen himself in creative industries or media production. But in his eyes, there are more financially stable career paths within business management. 

“You’re going into a world with people who are younger than you, there are some things that don’t translate well”

“I enjoy what I’m learning, I don’t feel  like I’m wasting my time,” said Soe. 

Former engineering student, Sally Shokry, ventured towards graphic communication management to seek a career that she would actually enjoy. 

For Shokry, there was no psychological or financial fulfillment when studying engineering, and didn’t feel like she was getting anywhere. 

“When you actually find the [program] that fulfills your purpose and is what you really want to do, it helps you do more and do better.” said Soe.

Biomedical engineering wasn’t what Shokry saw herself doing in the future, and the prospects of securing a job in the industry seemed scarce to her. 

“A bigger issue to me was the fact that my friends who graduated at times were struggling to find jobs in their field,” said Shokry “[If] I don’t have an ambition for it, and people aren’t finding jobs for it, then what am I getting out of [the program]?” 

Unlike  Soe and Maniquis,  Shokry’s transition was easy and supported by everyone around her, despite initial surprise and the fact that most of her family works in engineering. 

Research was the key in discovering that graphics communication management was the perfect program for her. 

“I wasn’t just overnight thinking that I’m done with engineering,” said Shokry. “I actually sat down and thought to myself if this is some kind of stress or if it is a well thought out decision.”

Shokry has become a different person since the switch and said most people who know her from before have seen that change. 

“I’ve always been so shy and now I’m out there doing work that I think is touching people’s lives.”

Major changes do come with road bumps along the way, but for these students, they are happy with their decision to switch

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