Universities like Cornell, Harvard, Princeton requires that you declare your major in your sophomore year i.e. you get admitted with an undeclared major. So, will it hurt my chances if I chose a super competitive major like Computer Science in the Common App? Can I fill my intended major with a very non-competitive major like Anthropology or Gender Studies and declare a completely different major after getting admitted?
(Also, do you get admitted to a specific college or the whole university? For example- Cornell has a College of Engineering, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, etc. Do I get admitted to a specific college according to what I chose as my intended major? If yes, can I chose a different college after being admitted?)
Hi, this is a great question as the answer will change it'll depend on where you want to go to school. For example I went to Cornell and was in the College of Human Ecology where they don't accept undeclared majors. You have to come in with a declared major already, and while it is relatively easy to switch majors within the college, you have to have picked a major to get accepted. For other schools at Cornell like the College of Engineering and the College of Arts and Sciences, you don't have to declare until your sophomore year so it won't matter if you applied as undecided. However, applying as a specific major shouldn't ever be hurting your chances on the Common App. Also, I wouldn't recommend applying as something non-competitive just to get in with the intent on switching later. Colleges will know when you're not actually passionate about the major you're writing about in your essays. Definitely pick something that you'd actually be interested in studying. Depending on the university, or which college you're in, the process of changing your major within colleges will be different. Before you've declared there is no process, you'll just take classes to satisfy the requirements for the major you want to declare. Human Ecology for example though, everyone has already declared when they are accepted so changing your major within the college requires a form to be completed which is super simple and doesn't take much time. If you wanted to change colleges completely the process would be more involved, including essays, transcripts, required classes, etc.
Also, at Cornell you are accepted to a specific college according to your intended major. There are some majors that are housed in multiple colleges like CS, and you'd then have to mark on your Common App which college you want to study Computer Science in. This is also the case at most universities where there are multiple colleges, you would be admitted to a specific school within the university.
From the systems I've seen, it really depends on the individual college and it's own preferences. Try to ask them those questions in their college admissions fair/tour or sometimes it is on their admissions website. For Cornell and NYU, I think you get admitted to the individual college you apply to, instead of the entire university.
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