How has online learning affected students changing majors?

In another online semester Baylor has seen an uptick in change of major requests. To submit a request of your own, log into bear web and follow these steps. Cole Tompkins | Photographer

By Annaleise Parsons | Staff Writer

Bob Shipp, the associate director of university advisement, said data supports the idea that online classes have led to more Baylor students having change-of-major conversations with advisors.

“For about the last two years, we’ve had around 270 to 290 change of major discussions each academic year. In the fall, we had 244 and we haven’t even started spring. I’m anticipating a larger surge in those [discussions this semester],” Shipp said.

While there isn’t a definite answer to why the past fall semester had such a large surge in students seeking to change their majors, Shipp said it was most likely the pandemic that caused the numbers.

“It may not be so much COVID making them change their minds,” Shipp said. “It could be other factors related to COVID such as online only or having a portion online that is making them have a different experience.”

Abilene freshman Miah Dennis, an online-only student, said that online classes were one of the reasons that she switched from a neuroscience major to social work.

“The structure of the online science classes…like chemistry and biology, that was just really hard for me … It would have been easier if I was just around other students and able to talk to professors in-person.” Dennis said.

In a study published by the American Economic Association in 2017, researchers found that “taking a course online, instead of in-person, reduces student success and progress in college.”

For students like Dennis, online classes push students to find what they are passionate about through self-reflection.

“The pandemic really highlighted the way that society social classes … the class disparities … I want to help people that live in poverty and are impacted by the pandemic. This made me want to change my major to social work and help people,” Dennis said.

Dennis encouraged online students to change their majors earlier rather than waiting it out for the end of the pandemic to go to in-person classes.

“I think that if you feel really strongly that changing your major is the right thing for you, go ahead and change it.” Dennis said.

Students should submit a request through BearWeb and schedule an online advising appointment if they wish to change their major.