Choosing a major for your college application can be a daunting task. In fact, even college students who are currently enrolled have trouble deciding what major they want to stick with!
A challenge that many college applicants face is the classic question: “What do you want to major in?” At first thought, this question doesn’t seem too difficult to answer, but it actually places a lot of pressure on college applicants who aren’t sure what they would like to study just yet.
With hundreds of different majors to choose from, how do you know which one is the right fit for you? Should you choose a major related to your career path, or should you not declare a major at all? When it comes to choosing your major, both of these questions are important to ask, and there’s simply no right or wrong way to go about it.
Before you declare a major, think about all the reasons that support your decision. While your major doesn’t define your career path, many students who are looking to go into specific fields usually already have a few majors in mind. Since many post-graduate programs require that prospective students complete a specific set of coursework, students will declare a major based on the courses they will have to take. For instance, if you are looking to go to medical school after college, there are specific science courses you will have to complete in order to be eligible to apply for medical school. Thus, it may be beneficial to be a science major, such as biology or chemistry.
The “Undeclared” Student
In many cases, students may not even declare a major on their application, and this is perfectly fine! College admissions counselors do not expect that every high school student will know their course of study in college. In fact, most college students change their major at least once throughout their undergraduate career, and this is normal. The reason for this is that many college students tend to be unsure of exactly what they would like to study while others may already have a clear, set path in mind.
Does My Choice of Major Affect My Admission?
There is often debate as to whether the major you declare on your college application will affect your overall admission into a prospective college or university. Some people may tell you that declaring your major can be advantageous because it shows your dedication and commitment to a specific field of study, while others may tell you that listing your major will only slim your chances of being admitted. So, which side is right? Well, there is truth to both sides.
Often, students will already know what fields they are interested in. In that case, if you have a strong interest in a particular subject and you know you would like to continue studying it in college, then you should rightfully apply to that major. This helps college admissions counselors understand the career path you would like to take. Furthermore, it allows college admissions counselors to take into account how your past experiences have shaped your decision to apply as that major through your personal statements and extracurricular activities.
On the other hand, many schools have specific academic programs that are highly sought after, causing for certain majors to be “impacted.” When a major is impacted, this means that the college or university receives more applicants for that specific major than they are able to admit. Therefore, declaring a major that is impacted can put you in a large pool of competitive applicants.
For example, Massachusetts of Institute of Technology’s (MIT) engineering program is very highly regarded in the world. Naturally, MIT will receive a high number of applicants who declare engineering as their major every year. In this case, MIT will have to limit the number of applicants that they can admit to their engineering program.
At the end of the day, the purpose of your college application is for college admissions counselors to get to know you better. They want to gain insight on what you want to study in college, your potential career path, and how your past experiences have shaped your decision. With this in mind, you should select your major accordingly.
Changing Your Major Later
If you do not get into your major of choice, don’t be discouraged! Many colleges and universities allow students to change their major in later years during their undergraduate career. 80 percent of freshmen at Penn State say that they are uncertain about their major, and half will change their minds after they declare, some more than once.
College admissions counselors know that college students often change their minds after becoming exposed to different fields, so it’s no big deal if you are unsure at this point. The more important mission is to continue searching for what you are interested in.