Ask a fifth-year: Dropping a Major

Dear Sarah,

I’ve been thinking about dropping one of my majors recently. I’m in the college and the conservatory, and I enjoy playing music, but I don’t think it’s the right career path for me anymore. I’m worried it’s too late for me to drop my BM, though, since I’ve already started working on material for a half recital. What should I do? Should I stick out both degrees or is it not too late to change my degree plan?

—Junior in a Jam


Dear Junior,

I honestly believe it is never too late to change your degree plan. I didn’t turn in the paperwork for declaring my majors until my senior year, and even this past summer, I had thoughts about dropping one of my two majors. If you know it’s not the field you want to pursue anymore, then it’s not worth the extra time and effort. You only have so much time at Lawrence, use that time as efficiently as you can.

We all have busy schedules at Lawrence; everyone knows it and it’s a problem that is frequently addressed. You will be more productive and overall a happier person—which is really the most important thing—if the work you are doing is work you enjoy. No one wants to spend time writing papers or learning music that they don’t find any joy in. The entire process will be miserable and the final product will likely not be something you are proud of. Your time is better spent doing something you have fun doing, whether that is performing experiments or writing lesson plans.

As a double-degree student in the college and the conservatory, there are several ways you could change your degree plan. You say you’ve already begun working on material for a half recital. You could switch from Bachelor of Music to a Bachelor of Arts in music. With this degree switch, you only need one thirty minute recital instead of a thirty minute and a sixty minute recital. If you think these feelings of wanting to drop the degree are just out of panic and stress, you could consider cancelling and delaying your recital. That’s one of the pleasures of having five years to finish your degree—you have more time to play around with.

The nature of the double-degree program at Lawrence forces students to choose which field takes precedence on a term by term basis. Some terms you might be more conservatory focused, other terms you’re more college focused. I find myself jockeying between which degree I am more passionate about, music performance or music education. I have yet to 100 percent rule out one option or the other as something I could never see myself doing as a career. Because of that, I’ve decided to keep both degrees. I suggest you ask yourself the same question, can you still see yourself pursuing a career in both of the fields you are currently studying? Or do you find yourself adamantly choosing one over the other? If one field has clearly taken precedence in your life, I suggest you drop the degree you aren’t finding joy in.

Send in your questions to and have them answered by Sarah, a double-degree student in her fifth year at LU.