Can Your Declared Major Affect Your Acceptance Odds?

Flickr user Jason Mrachina

Students applying for college want to have every edge they can when it comes to their application acceptance odds, especially when it involves a dream school. So many students wonder if their declared major will alter their chance of acceptance or not. Here’s what you need to know.

Each School is Different

Every school is different when it comes to how they weigh majors. One school may take major into account, while another doesn’t. Some departments may even be more competitive and have a second round of the application process you need to pass. For example, if a college has an engineering department that is popular, they may only have a limited number of spots in the major. This definitely affects how many students are admitted. However, other colleges may have a wide variety of majors, where students are spread out, making all of the available majors less competitive.

Do Your Research

 When applying to your colleges, make sure you’re doing your research into how they weigh majors. This could affect how you complete your application and the essay. If your major is competitive at your dream school, you definitely want to put a lot of effort into showing that you are a top candidate for that program. (You should always do your best, but it helps to know how competitive each department is.)

Should You Apply Under a Less Competitive Major?

 Some students, in an effort to get accepted, may change their declared major on their application to something less competitive. This may get you into the college, but it could also backfire on you.

If your intended major is engineering, you probably have experience already in the field, through your high school, work, or volunteer programs. If you put down Education instead of engineering, you may not be accepted based on your lack of accomplishments in the field. You may also not have a clue what to write on an application essay that requests to know why you want to major in that particular subject. This could bring down your entire application and result in a decline.

On the other hand, if you do get into the college under a less competitive major, you may run into an issue where you can’t switch to your originally intended major. Some schools have a limited number of spots per department and they may be full by the time you go to change tracks.

It’s important to do your research when it comes to declaring a major on your application. Some departments will require a second round of the process to get into their specific major, making it even more competitive. However, before you write down another major that you don’t intend to follow up on, check if this is the right choice for you. Every school handles applications differently, so applying under a less competitive major may come back to haunt you later on. If you’re unsure what to do, see if your school will allow you to put “undeclared.” At some colleges, this won’t affect your admission odds at all.

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Hilary Cairns

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