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How should I explain a change in course at university? Will it be asked of me?

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New answer on Jul 10, 2024
7 Answers
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Taylor asked on Jun 13, 2024

I switched from economics to business management due to personal circumstances affecting my ability to complete the previous course. Having never studied economics in school, I was shooting for the stars, so to speak, in my course choice. However now feel this reflects poorly on my CV. 

It has also made me apprehensive to join LinkedIn. 

Any tips for addressing this if employers ask are much appreciated. Thanks!

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Alessa
Expert
replied on Jun 13, 2024
xMcKinsey & Company | xBCG - feel free to schedule a 15 min intro call for free :)

Hey!

First of all, a change of university degree/field is no problem at all & is shown on many CVs. Therefore, interviewers are used to it and it does not particularly catch their attention!

If an interviewer is interested in your change of studies, they will ask. This depends on the interviewer - so it can definitely be the case. 

From my point of view, a change in a study is no disadvantage - on the contrary: I often interpret it as a kind of selfreflection from the interviewee who found its real passion/interest! Therefore, I would not talk about any “personal circumstances”, however, that your interests have changed and you have noticed that another kind of study fits your interest much better! If you can explain your new choice (which I am sure you can) then there will not be any further questions from the interviewer). 

I hope this helps! 

BR 
Alessa

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Taylor on Jun 13, 2024

That's very helpful, thank you for your time answering this!

Florian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jun 13, 2024
1300 5-star reviews across platforms | 500+ offers | Highest-rated case book on Amazon | Uni lecturer in US, Asia, EU

Hi Taylor,

In short: this is a non-issue, don't worry about it! :-)

For your resume/CV:

  • The type of degree is much less important than the prestige of the program and what you make of it (GPA, extracurriculars)
  • Switching once would not raise any eyebrows. If you would switch again and again without finishing anything that would be a red flag
  • Show your dedication to your new field by highlighting any relevant coursework, projects, or internships

For interviews:

  • If asked (in 95% of interviews, this won't come up), highlight your decision to switch as a proactive step to align your education with your interests and strengths
  • Emphasize how the change has benefited you and prepared you for your career
  • Mention any specific interests or career goals that guided your decision. They may have changed over time so that's okay! 
  • Emphasize skills from your economics studies that are relevant to consulting (e.g., the quantitative aspect)
  • Practice these answers to become comfortable with them

Linkedin:

  • IMHO, you don't need a LinkedIn for applications (that's what the CV is for)
  • If you make one, just fill it out normally, including the economics studies that you later aborted

I feel like you are overestimating the impact this has on how you are perceived. :-)

Cheers,

Florian

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Taylor on Jun 13, 2024

Hi Florian, Thank you for your reassurance with this, glad to see I am overestimating it's importance in the application. Your speedy and detailed response is much appreciated! KR Taylor

Cristian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jun 13, 2024
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Taylor, 

I believe you're seriously overthinking this. 

Just don't put it on the CV.

In case anybody asks about the gap, you can just explain it as plain and direct as you did here. 

Lots of people go ahead studying subjects they absolutely hate. Some people do that with their careers. Knowing when to stop and change what you're doing is an asset, not a liability, and you should be proud of it. 

Best,
Cristian

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Taylor on Jun 13, 2024

Thank you for the reassurance Cristian, much appreciated!

Francesco
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jun 14, 2024
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ interviewoffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi Taylor,

Q: How should I explain a change in course at university? Will it be asked of me?

I would emphasize the positive elements that led you to choose business management (if you have chosen it, I am sure you had some reasons that led you there). It is not a very relevant change and it doesn’t really signal anything negative, so I would just prepare a good answer in case they ask and not worry about it. 

Good luck!

Francesco

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Hagen
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jul 10, 2024
#1 recommended coach | >95% success rate | most experience in consulting, interviewing, and coaching

Hi Taylor,

I would be happy to share my thoughts on your question:

  • First of all, I don't think many interviewers will be interested in asking you about your change of study.
  • Moreover, in case one actually does, it is essential to frame your course change positively. Emphasize that the decision to switch from economics to business management was a strategic choice.

If you would like a more detailed discussion on how to best prepare for your upcoming interviews, please don't hesitate to contact me directly.

Best,

Hagen

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Pedro
Expert
replied on Jun 17, 2024
Bain | EY-Parthenon | Private Equity | Market Estimates | Fit Interview

1) You may not include this in your CV

2) I really don't see as a negative that you were going the wrong direction and decided to steer to a different direction. That is a sensible decision, not a bad one.

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Udayan
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jun 13, 2024
Top rated Case & PEI coach/Multiple real offers/McKinsey EM in New York /12 years recruiting experience

I don't quite follow what the issue is? You switched your majors during university so what? Many people do that and it is quite common. I really do not think many recruiters will focus on it unless there is some big issue to focus on.

 

 

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Alessa gave the best answer

Alessa

xMcKinsey & Company | xBCG - feel free to schedule a 15 min intro call for free :)
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