College admissions standards are becoming increasingly competitive. In light of this, students and their parents are asking themselves more questions than ever, including does your major affect admission? While everyone knows that your high school GPA and list of extracurricular activities are important admissions factors, knowing how your intended college major may affect your chances of admission is a bit more complicated.
So, does the major you choose to affect admission? In this article, we will discuss several factors related to this question.
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Is it better to apply undecided or with a major?
For students with clearly defined academic goals, your college major will most likely play a key role in finding the right college for you. If you are passionate about your prospective major, demonstrate your enthusiasm within your application. It may help you stand out from your peers and may be especially helpful when preparing your “why this college” supplemental essays.
That said, many high schoolers don’t know what they want to study and are interested in applying undecided. In fact, this is incredibly common. So if you’re wondering, does an undecided major look bad? the short answer is no. Similarly, if you are wondering how to choose a major if you are undecided, the best approach is to take a variety of classes during your freshman year and see what appeals most to you.
What to know about competitive college majors
Some majors are more competitive than others and may affect your chances of admission. Some of the most competitive majors today include Computer Science, Engineering, Business, Biology, and Nursing.
Generally, students interested in studying pre-med gravitate toward biology programs. That said, you can still apply to medical school without a biology degree. Applying to nursing programs can also be hyper-competitive. Some programs won’t even let you apply to the nursing program until your sophomore year.
So what happens if you don’t get accepted into your major? Some colleges let you apply with a first-choice and second-choice major. Of course, this depends on the individual college. Other colleges may accept you into the school but not into your major. Again, though, it depends on the college.
Can you switch majors once enrolled?
Many college applicants may find themselves wondering: Can I change my major after getting accepted? The short answer is: it depends.
Typically, students attending liberal arts colleges are free to change their majors and often do so. This is because liberal arts colleges are small, encourage interdisciplinary study, and expect students’ interests to change over time. If, however, you are attending a large state school, your ability to change majors may be more restricted.
Public universities are much larger than private colleges and often have to hire professors according to the popularity of certain majors. Admissions officers do not want to admit too many students into a single major. If they did, students may not be able to enroll in all of their required courses. In turn, this could impact their ability to graduate on time. Ultimately, this is why college admissions officers at public universities are more likely to take prospective college majors into account when making their admissions decisions.
Another key difference between colleges and universities is that large universities are often broken down into more specialized colleges. For example, if you are interested in attending the University of New Hampshire, you will have to decide whether you want to apply to the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture, College of Health and Human Services, Carsey School of Public Policy, College of Liberal Arts, etc.
The importance of creating a balanced college list
Ambitious students are often interested in competitive majors, such as engineering, biology, computer science, etc. If this is the case, students will need to compile their college list with extra care. This is because schools with high acceptance rates may have much more exclusive acceptance rates for applicants applying to certain majors.
For example, Purdue University has an overall acceptance rate of 67%, but only accepts 37% of first-year engineering applicants. Similarly, the University of Maryland has an overall acceptance rate of 51% but is considered one of the best Computer Science programs in the country.
As you assemble your list of colleges, be aware that your intended major may have a significant effect on your chances of admission. Do your research and make sure you are applying to an appropriate selection of colleges. Remember, just because a school has a high overall acceptance rate, this doesn’t necessarily mean that this school is a “safety” school.
The importance of creating a strong application narrative
Creating a strong application narrative is integral to any successful college application. In other words, your application should demonstrate your passions, interests, and talents.
For example, if you’re interested in studying literature, college admissions officers want to see that you have taken plenty of related AP classes and that your extracurricular activities are reflective of this interest.
Let’s consider another example: say you want to study biology but decide to apply as a history major because it is a less competitive major. Unless you are genuinely interested in history as well and have taken advanced history courses and pursued history-related extracurriculars, college admissions officers may feel confused by your application and therefore take it less seriously.
So, if you’re wondering, does it matter what major you apply for? there are lots of factors to consider. The most important factor, however, is being genuine.
Key takeaways and moving forward
In conclusion, if you are passionate about a particular course of study, the best application strategy is to create a strong application narrative, demonstrate your enthusiasm, and create a well-balanced college list, with plenty of “safety” and “fit” schools. If you have high college aspirations, you may benefit from hiring a college counselor. Overall, by working with a professional, you can increase your chances of admission by focusing on your personal statement, extracurricular activities, SAT score, and more. Here at Prepory, we have the expertise to help you reach your college goals: reach out to learn more about our services.