Should I Change My Major From Psychology To Nursing?

"I have been majoring in psychology, and it’s been a year, and while I have enjoyed my classes, I’ve started to realize that I’m really a lot more interested in becoming a nurse than becoming a psychologist. It’s to the point where I’m not really sure I want to go on with my psychology major at all. Ideally, I’d have majored in nursing in the first place, and then I wouldn’t be in this predicament like I am today. My parents have discouraged me from jumping ship and switching over, because they say it will just be too complicated and expensive, but I don’t think I’ll be happy as a psychologist anymore. Is it possible to change my major to nursing without a lot of hassle?"

asked by Wendy from Bismark, ND

Trying to switch to nursing is indeed somewhat more complicated than trying to switch to another major. If you wanted to change over from being a psych major to majoring math, chemistry, English, or another typical university subject, you would simply walk into your advisor’s office and get him or her to make the change. It would be done in a matter of hours or days, and you would go on about your university life. Switching to nursing is far from impossible, but it isn’t something you can effortlessly take care of in an afternoon.

The issue with nursing is that nursing programs are in very high demand, and many colleges not only fill up every year, but end up with a waiting list, and some students may be on that list for years (a risk you take if you choose to switch). Applications are typically accepted only once a year at a specific time, and the university will seek to fill a finite number of spots, after which other students will be wait-listed.

These spots are not flexible as they are in other majors. Oftentimes with other majors, like psychology, the program will grow or shrink as more students or fewer students apply. But nursing spots are usually set and nonnegotiable.

If you have already taken the prerequisites, that will help you qualify, so depending on the classes you have already taken, it may work out for the best. You will need to check to see what the application dates are for your school. Then check the requirements and see if there are any more you need to get out of the way, and if you can do it in time.

Once you apply, you will need to see whether or not the university accepts your change. Entry is highly competitive, and spots are usually very limited, as I mentioned. There is a chance you will be wait-listed or rejected outright (not all schools retain a wait list). There may even be a lottery involved if a number of qualified candidates apply, you’re your school may or may not give you priority because you are already an attending student. You may also only be able to apply at a particular university a finite number of times for nursing. This means you should time your application very carefully, and you may very well want to apply at other nursing schools, not just your own university. It is wise to give yourself options.

The next logical question you may be asking at this point is whether you should switch your major to nursing or not, given that in many ways you are basically applying for a brand new program, and may even find yourself changing schools in order to get a seat. Your parents are right that it is a bit of a hassle, and there is a high likelihood that there will be delays in your education. If you get wait listed, those delays could be substantial.

The good news though is that a lot of nursing programs are shorter, and at community colleges, they are often less expensive, than a four- or six-year degree program like psychology. So even with a delay, you may end up graduating at roughly the same time you would have anyway, or maybe even earlier. You may end up spending the same amount of money on your education, or less, depending on where you go and what type of program you enroll in. If you want to reduce time, you can try an LPN or LVN program to start with, and then do a bridge program later to RN after you start working. That gives you a chance to start earning money, and then you can train later at a pace you are more comfortable with.

The other issue is of course whether or not you will be happy. If you know for sure you do not want to become a psychologist, the last thing you should do is spend time and money on a program which ultimately is not going to enrich your future. It is far more sensible to switch now to nursing, even if it is a hassle. If you wait until later, you will spend even more money getting two degrees, and lose a lot more time. You will also face much greater inconvenience later down the line. It is not easy to go back to school after you graduate. You stack up responsibilities, and changing your line of work becomes much more challenging and risky.

Talk to an advisor at your school about what the process is like if you apply for the nursing program, and see if you can work out the timing so it is to your advantage. Also look into other nursing schools in your area. Make sure you are meeting all the prerequisites, and that you will be able to afford the programs you apply to. Many nursing programs are very fast and intensive, so be ready for that too. If it is what you really want to do with your life though, it is an excellent career, one which you will find very rewarding, financially and in other ways!

Career Spotlight: Registered Nurse

Registered Nurse

Registered Nurse

If you find fulfillment in caring for those who are sick but don’t want to perform the seemingly cold and clinical work that doctors do, you can consider becoming a registered nurse. In this role, y[...]

Leave A Comment