Changing a Major and Maneuvering Add/Drop Registration

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Dana Hartley, Ph.D.
Director of Undergraduate Studies

One of the most stressful events for incoming and returning students is deciding whether to change their major. Naturally, parents want their students to find the "right path" and move forward in a productive manner. For students, this process is often filled with anxiety and doubt. Our main piece of advice for students and parents is "Don't Panic!" There is a process in place that students should follow for a successful outcome. However, it is important to note that due to timing, there are differences for freshman and continuing students.

If your freshman student suddenly decides to change his/her major right when school starts, it is not the time to panic. It is also NOT the time to change their major. The course work for the first semester is general enough (and fulfills requirements for all majors) that there is no real reason to start changing classes at this time. Furthermore, at this point, your student does not yet know enough about the other majors available to him/her. This is where our freshman seminar, GT1000, can provide beneficial guidance for your student. In GT1000, students have the opportunity to learn about a major of interest as well as other major options.

If your student is a continuing student and has decided to change majors, they should act on it before school starts. If they know what major they want to pursue, they should contact that advisor well before the term starts There is paperwork to complete, but more importantly we want them attending the right classes from the very start of the term. However, if they are really undecided and just know that they want out of their current major, they should NOT change majors abruptly. Rather, a student should go see one of the undecided advisors The advisor will help your student determine what major is the best fit. In addition, the advisor will most likely encourage your student to talk to the advisor(s) in the major(s) of interest to learn more about the curriculum and available opportunities.

In addition to changing majors, quite a bit of confusion and frenzy surrounds the Add/Drop (a.k.a. Phase II) period of registration. By definition, Phase II registration starts the Wednesday before classes and ending the Friday at the end of the first week of classes. During this time, a student can add and drop courses. After Friday - the student’s schedule is final and no classes can be added. A class can be dropped, but a "W" will appear on the transcript (and those hours can still count against financial aid).

There are a few "rules" to follow for Phase II registration.
1. No matter what, students should attend all the classes they think they might take. This amounts to a few extra hours, versus already being a week behind!
2. Students should know what they want to take BEFORE Phase II. So, if your student doesn't know, they should talk to their advisor first. Remember, classes are in session during Phase II, and your student can get behind in classes while trying to make decisions.
3. There are always exceptions in life. If your student is confused, recommend that your student goes see his/her advisor for further guidance.

If you or your student has questions about academic advising, please visit the Academic Advising Web site for helpful resources and contact information.


  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: Rachael Pocklington
  • Created: 08/03/2009
  • Modified By: Fletcher Moore
  • Modified: 10/07/2016

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