1
2 years ago
Admissions Advice

Does the major you are applying to really impact your college admissions chances (assuming they ask for a major)?
Answered

It is a question I am really interested in finding the answer to, partly because when you search it up on Google, they say it really doesn't. But for example, the difference between Computer Science (very competitive) to let's say, Education (something I am maybe interested in), gives the chances a 5-10% increase. This moves some of my reach into target. Does it really matter if they do ask you for a major when applying? I know you could change and all, but if you really planned to stick it to it throughout college, could it help you with a less competitive major? My dream school is Notre Dame or Northwestern, and they both jump with a less competitive major.

Thanks to all for this community, it has helped a ton.

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Accepted Answer
2 years ago

If you are a strong applicant for the University and the major you are applying to then the best course of action is to apply to the intended major because chances are you have aligned your academic and EC narrative already to that major.

However if you are sub-par applicant for the school and major, lets say less around 25% which makes the school a reach, then you might as well shoot your shot by pick a different less competitive major. But this doesn't come without a cost!

The danger of doing this is that the rest of your academic narrative and ECs and essays and recommendations may not align with the new major. So lets say you want to go to NotreDame for CS and to prepare for it you took a lot of higher math and science APs, have leadership roles in the Computer Club and won various science Olympiads or fix LapTops for underprivileged kids in your neighborhood, then your application is going to read like techy-geeky applicant not an Education major. So anything you gain from switching majors may work against you when the application reader reads you entire file in the context of evaluating it holistically. They may hesitate to admit you for Education because they figure you are just "gaming" the admissions system.

If you know you are a poor candidate for CS or Pre-Med or Engineering at a top school, the time to switch your narrative both academically, internships, volunteering, community service, and outside of HS intellectual vitality pursuits is in 10th or 11th grade latest, not as a senior. That way you have enough "runway" to make the switch believable, credible and show evidence of this new narrative. Does that make sense?

If you want to be an Education major, then you should be doing ECs like mentoring or tutoring kids. You should be serving as a Student member on the School District Board or a Board that has something to do with promoting DEIA or improving the curriculum. You should be a teachers' assistant for some of your teachers in High School.

What I'm saying is that each major is serious not trivial. You can't assume you will be seen as a credible Journalism major (for instance) because the admit rates are higher than CS. You still have to show the admissions office you are a serious person. If you are the Editor in Chief of your HS Newspaper and a freelance journalist for your local paper in your free time, then applying for a journalism major is believable.

Good luck.

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