Pros and Cons of Declaring Your College Major Right Away

You can use a megaphone to declare something, but what about declaring your major right away?

Flickr user Ginamarr

When completing college applications, some schools may ask you which major you are interested in pursuing. However, even if you already know which major you’ll choose, there are pros and cons to declaring it so soon. Here’s what you need to know.

Pro: It’s attractive to the school.

Declaring your major on your applications may actually be extremely attractive to the college or university and boost your chances of being accepted. This is especially the case if it’s a rarely chosen major. You may even get help paying for college by being awarded financial aid, scholarships, and grants. It can help you stand out among the competition.

Con: It may make the pool more competitive for you.

While some majors will undoubtedly be more attractive to the college, you may actually make it more competitive for yourself, especially if you picked one of the most popular undergraduate majors. This is also the case if you are intending on pursuing more difficult coursework, such as engineering. Standards for admissions for more difficult majors will usually be tougher as you’ll usually be placed against more competitive applicants.

Pro: You can start the major’s courses sooner.

If you’re set on your particular major, it’s always good to know that you may have the opportunity to start your coursework early. Many colleges request that you declare your major by the beginning of your junior year. If you know in your intended career and path early, you can take the beginning courses for your major in freshman and sophomore years.

This is also a definite pro if you’ve already taken Advanced Placement (AP) or college classes related to your major during your senior year of high school.

Con: Your declared major may be difficult to change.

At some schools, changing your college majors after you have already declared one may prove to be difficult. Certain colleges only have a specific number of spots for particular majors and they may be full by the time you go to switch. Your GPA may also not be up to par with what your new intended major is looking for.

You should also note that if you started taking coursework for your original intended major during your first two years, you will now also have to make up that time. It may have been better spent taking electives while you decided on a major. (If you’re unsure about your major, your freshman and sophomore years are a great time to take courses that intrigue you and see if it sparks interest in furthering your education in the subject.)

If you are absolutely set on your major and intended career path, it may be in your best interests to declare your major during your college applications. On the other hand, you might want to weigh the pros and cons for your particular situation. However, it should also be noted that some colleges and universities will actually require you to declare a major on your application. You should thoroughly understand your intended college’s admission process before applying or declaring a major.

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