“My friends are applying to colleges with major [x]. Should I also apply with major [x]?” Many students don’t know exactly what direction, field, or career path they are aiming towards. Applying to college may make this dilemma even worse, as for the most part, you’re urged to choose a major when applying to colleges. In this article, we’ll be answering some of the most common questions regarding choosing majors:
What is an “impacted” major?
Impacted majors are the majors in colleges that are extremely popular, and thus would likely be either 1) harder to get into, or 2) will have relatively large classes in that particular major. When applying to colleges, if you are not completely sure which major to choose, it may not be the best idea to just “go with the flow” and choose whichever your peers are choosing, or choosing a major your parents want you to study. Computer science is a very popular impacted major, so applying to many colleges as a computer science major may be more competitive.I want to apply to a college with an impacted major, but I fear that it would be too competitive.
Should I just choose an unpopular major just to get in?
Be aware of “gaming the system.” College admissions officers can easily tell if you are choosing an unpopular major just to get in first. Of course, colleges aren’t expecting you to know exactly what you will be studying in college, but they want to know what field/area you are interested in, how you have expressed that interest in your activities and essays, and how you plan on further exploring that major at their institution. If your activities or interests do not match well with the major you’re choosing, then that may be a red flag to admissions officers. If you are interested in, for example, computer science, and have many activities to support your profile as computer science student, then you choosing computer science may not be a bad idea. You could potentially explore other related majors such as information systems or data science, but just keep in mind that if you explicitly have experience related to a computer science, then applying to a drastically different major just to get into the school may be a missed opportunity. Keep in mind that you will be compared to other students applying for the same major. So, if you’re looking to apply as a history major just to get into the college and don’t have particular interest or activities in history, you may be placed at a disadvantage when compared to students who are actually interested in the field.
In addition, not all colleges are flexible with major changes. At many colleges, changing majors, especially from non-impacted to impacted majors, is a very difficult process, and you may not be able to change into your desired major at the end.
If I don’t know what field I am interested in, should I choose “undeclared”?
Whether choosing an undeclared major is harmful or not to your application is controversial issue. Many people believe that undeclared is seemingly a poor option because it makes you seem directionless, but the truth is, colleges don’t expect you to know exactly what you’re going to do. The benefit of choosing a major is that it expresses your particular interest. We do not recommend choosing undeclared if you do have an interest but don’t want to choose it because it is impacted or for any other reasons. There is nothing wrong in choosing undeclared, but even if you do, you want to make it clear somewhere in your application that you do have interests but are willing to explore.
To sum up, don’t be afraid to pursue whatever you’re genuinely interested in! Don’t just follow what your friends or what your parents what you to do, as your passion for a certain field will show in your activities and essays.