The only roadblock to switching your major is the door to Moulton Union. Stressful for many students and easy for others, declaring a major is a symbolic step toward graduating from college.

By the end of sophomore year, students are expected to have an idea of what they wish to pursue for the remainder of their college careers.

Despite this expectation, this is not the case for all students on campus. Some students consider the possibility of changing their major after declaring, which can complicate decisions about life beyond Bowdoin.

Students who question their decision regarding their current majors, or even what the College has to offer in terms of majors, have a couple of different options they can consider when trying to make changes.

First, there is the possibility of completely switching a major. Students are able to do this through the Office of the Registrar, which is located on the first floor in Moulton Union.

Although the Office of the Registrar does not track how many students make changes to their major after declaring it at the end of their sophomore year, such changes do occur among both juniors and seniors.

Though it can seem like a big decision, students wishing to change their major go through a relatively simple process. They must obtain a blue major change card and have it signed by an appropriate faculty member from the department of their new major. The card is then returned to the registrar and the information is entered into the College's records.

"Students have to make sure that they've finalized their change by the beginning of their final semester at Bowdoin," said Registrar Christine Cote. "Since degree audit occurs around that time, we need to make sure the major is finalized so we can approach the department."

Not all changes that students make to their majors involve completely switching departments, however. Many students will drop parts of their double major or minor that they realize they will not be able to complete before they graduate.

"Students discover that they have majors and minors that are not going to be completed," said Cote.

La'Shaye Ervin '12, who recently changed her major from Biochemistry with a minor in Africana Studies to a double major of Biology and Africana Studies, said that the process is indeed simple.

"All I really had to do was speak to my advisor, sign a card, and have my advisor sign a card," she said.

"I had been deciding since the summer [to switch my major]," explained Ervin. "I realized that my current major was very strict and I wanted more options. I already completed my Africana Studies minor, and I wanted to continue as well.

"The decision comes down to what makes you happy and what challenges you in the way you want to be challenged," she added.

While many students are able to simply switch majors if they are experiencing dissatisfaction with their current academic direction, some students discover that their interests lie outside of the College's offerings.

Khalil LeSaldo '11 discovered that his interests had changed as he progressed through his current academic track.

"I liked the intro courses in my major [Psychology], but the more advanced courses included too much math and science," he said.

"I was hoping that the proposal for a theater major last year would go through, but it didn't," said LeSaldo, who also said that he does not intend to go into a career involving Psychology, the major that he will to graduate with.

Another option for students, which LeSaldo also considered, is the student-designed major.

"The staff is pretty supportive of these types of decisions, but the committee is tough," LeSaldo said. "They need to make sure you don't come up with a fluffy do-it-yourself major that involves taking Dance 111 eight times. You have to address why it's necessary for you to participate in this program, and why your proposed degree is not offered."

Unfortunately, some students sometimes put themselves in difficult positions. They may suddenly realize that they do not have enough time or credits to be able to get the major they want. Some even decide to stick with their current ones because it is a lot easier to finish up a major if only a few required credits remain.

"In the end, I don't think it will affect how things turn out later on," said LeSaldo. "I can still go to grad school for theater or Arabic. Either way, I'm grateful for the rigidity of my current major."