Shifting gears

Changed mind? Change major.

Approximately 200 students at Queen’s switch faculties each year, but not everyone who wants to is permitted to do so.

According to Stuart Pinchin, associate university registrar, spaces for transfer students are limited due to the Universtiy’s high retention rates.

For those who do make the switch though, the progress made in another faculty will not be lost. Pinchin said that courses taken at other faculties will stay on a transcript after a student switches faculties.

“[They] will count toward the degree requirements where applicable,” he said.

Mackenzie Lovsin, Comm ’14, transferred from the Faculty of Arts and Science to Commerce after his first year.

He decided to apply to Queen’s Commerce in November of his first year after finding he enjoyed his economics elective more than his core science classes.

Lovsin said transferring into the Commerce program is probably the most difficult transfer at Queen’s.

“It’s harder to get in after university than after high school,” he said.

“They don’t care about your high school grades — they judge your application on your first-year GPA and a personal statement of experience.”

To transfer into the Commerce program, the School of Business looks for well-rounded students with a minimum average of B+ in their university courses.

Lovsin will still be able to graduate in four years, since his first year courses transferred as elective credits, but he won’t be able to travel on exchange.

“It’s hard to be a transfer student, an accounting student and an exchange student,” he said. “You kind of have to pick two of the three.”

He said students interested in transferring to commerce should also look at transferring schools. He applied to the commerce program at the University of Ottawa in case his application to Queen’s Commerce was rejected.

“You need to ask yourself how badly you want it. For me, studying Commerce was more important than being at Queen’s,” he said.

Karen Campbell, Sci ’14, switched from physics to mechanical engineering in the middle of her third year.

Although she’ll be staying at Queen’s for an extra year and a half, she said she’s happy she made the change.

She said she wishes she had been more aggressive while researching a transfer.

“You can’t be afraid of making the change,” Campbell said.

She initially thought she’d endure her courses and graduate on time, but changed her mind in her third year.

“I’m not just getting through a program … I’m here to do something I want to do.”

Program changes within faculties is also common at Queen’s.

Changing majors within the Faculty of Arts and Science is more common than inter-faculty transfers, since courses tend to be more transferable.

According to Cindy Butts, the registration coordinator and academic advisor for the Faculty of Arts, more than 900 arts and science students requested to change their program last year.

Most students switch programs because they find themselves interested in another area of study, she said, although others change programs to open up new career options.

“We often find that some students come in thinking they know exactly which major they want to pursue, but by Christmas that often changes,” she said.

She advises students to take a broad range of courses in their first year to avoid ending up in a major they dislike.

Erica MacLachan, ArtsSci ’14, changed her degree focus from a history and political science medial to history and religious studies after her second year.

She made the decision while taking a first-year religious studies course in the summer after her second year. MacLachan said she’ll still be graduating on time, since she’s taken summer courses to catch up with her requirements.

She took economics and calculus in her first year in anticipation of pursuing a business career. She said she later decided that she wasn’t interested in following that path.

“It’s important to pay attention to what you’re interested in, not just what society expects of you,” she said.


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