7 months ago
Admissions Advice

How much do majors affect chance?

I know that applying for Business @ Upenn or econ @ Princeton is very difficult, but what about for departents, not for seperate schools? Would applying as like a computer science major have a higher chance than a library sciences major at like any given school? Thanks!


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4 answers

Accepted Answer
6 months ago[edited]

Your major can definitely impact your application chances in many regards. Think about applicant attributes (like math test scores for engineering majors, etc.); abundance of applicants (like relatively more applicants for this major than that one); and diversity (such as gender, race, economic background, etc.). All of these things will be factors in the applicant pool.

When an admissions office gathers applications after a certain “decision” deadline, they have several things to consider. First and foremost, how many spots are open for this subject field. Obviously for a large state-college there will be many more than for a private Ivy+ institution. So assume that, when applying to smaller prestigious schools, you application will face the best of best in your field.

Secondly, admissions offices, ESPECIALLY at Ivy+ schools (not so much public schools), will look to diversify their campuses and henceforth their classrooms. That being said, an adcom may be more pleased with a female applicant in engineering than their fifth male applicant for the same position. Or more pleased with a black student applicant for their BS/MD than their tenth white applicant for the same direct-medical program. Apologies for touching on a sensitive topic such as identity and stereotypes, especially in today’s age, but this is absolutely the “hidden” truth behind some adcom decisions.

Lastly and most importantly is “what you bring to the table”, or just your application attributes. Obviously a pre-med student would desirably have volunteer experience at a local hospital and an engineering student would have attended summer programs. These EC’s (classes would also do well) that align with their plan express the experience that adcoms want to see. They certainly aren’t going to be as accepting towards an English major who scored 80th percentile R/W on SAT and a 3-4 on AP Lit/Lang than they would a statistics major with 780+ in Math SAT and 5 on AP Statistics. It’s just proves that you are a dedicated student of great promise.

Hope this helps!

6 months ago

If you want to get into the very best college you can, you may consider pursuing a different "spike" that supports that alternative narrative for the sake of getting admitted. For instance, let's say you want to study CS at Stanford but you know that you have a low probability of getting in because that's one of the most competitive and popular majors. On your transcript, say you have 4-5 years of languages, one possibility is that you might pursue a linguistics degree as an alternative. To support this new narrative, you may have to self teach yourself another language or take a 2nd or 3rd language and do some research for a Linguistics Professor or show other evidence that this is a legitimate spike.

Some people question whether this is ethical or not. If you think Stanford is like a huge costume ball each admissions cycle, they only want 100 people dressed up as a Star Wars character because otherwise the class will lack diversity and be boring. So they are always looking for Pirates or unusual costumes to shake it up a little. They don't need to know that after a year or two, you might take off your Rosetta Stone Halloween costume and become a StormTrooper.

To determine the most under-served majors at the colleges you will have to do a deep dive in each of your college's "common data sets" under section J.Degrees Conferred. At Stanford, CS and Engineering majors comprise about 36.4% of graduates while Language and Linguistic majors make up 2.9%.

Good Luck.

5 months ago

I think it would definitely depend on what you're trying to get out of a degree or the school in particular. If the school you're applying to is great for library science but not much else, then I'd say you have a better chance just off of the school's need to push their other programs. If you mean in regards to major making you a more attractive candidate, then it's a double edged sword. Particularly prestigious schools like the ones you mentioned in your question won't really care about what your major is because the school itself is in high demand no matter the major. "Regular" schools can be a toss-up depending what they're known for and how many other students apply for that same degree. You might even have a better chance with the library sciences major than computer science, because not a great deal many people are applying to universities not specifically for that program. Hope this helps!

6 months ago

So for humanities I’d say it’s near equal but at top schools IF they consider major not school then for STEm Comp Sci isn’t as great but all engineering is just about equal. Your best bet is to have 1 or 2 option in a school and apply undecided.


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