2 years ago
Admissions Advice

I want to apply as a CompSci major but I am unsure if it will hurt my chances of getting in?

I'm interested in going into Computer Science, but I've heard that, especially for the UC schools, declaring this as your major makes it significantly more difficult to get in because the computer science major is capped. I was wondering if this is the case at other schools, like BC, Northeastern, Georgetown, UNC, USC, Conn college, Umich, Emory, and Trinity College? I'm not dead set on computer science, and I would be open to other majors, like psychology, if it would make it slightly less competitive to get in.

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3 answers

2 years ago

Declaring a major on your common to a particular college on the common app can have dire consequences if you are not the strongest applicant in the self-selecting pool of applicants for that school. So what I'm saying is that unless you are a programming prodigy and are fluent in Python and 6 other coding languages, have built a number of apps that are sticky and have traction, have won major competitions like robotics or science fairs, and have the very best course rigor and other evidence of intellectual vitality, I would not apply as a CS major to Stanford, MIT, Caltech, and CMU and UC Berkeley.

I think there is a natural order of who gets in as a CS major to what schools based on whether you are a strong applicant for that school. So the schools I mentioned are super tough to get into as CS majors. Then for tier 2, I would say all the IVys, Elites, and Top Liberal Arts colleges (some offer CS). For tiers 3 and 4, the schools that you mentioned, Connecticut College and Trinity College are the easiest.

I don't think it's a deliberate policy to cap CS majors. I think it's rather a function of the college to keep up with the pent-up demands for teaching this major and find the right kind of instructors that want to leave the private sector and work full time as a college professors instead. If you are making $200K for Intel, do you want to take a pay cut and be a college professor? Probably not.

I would recommend that you do some research for the school you are applying to. Determine whether it is possible to easily chance majors from something to CS after you are accepted. Some schools permit this, for others, it's more difficult. Then apply accordingly. You can also apply to more colleges if your time and budget permit this. That's a good way to hedge your bets.

Good luck.

2 years ago

As a general rule, you will have lower chances of getting into top STEM schools if you apply as a CS major, but you will increase your chances if you apply to liberal arts colleges. For example, Georgetown and Trinity College will be slightly more inclined to accept you because they don't get too many CS applicants. Though CS is not their bread and butter, they certainly do have good classes and professors - I took an Intro to Python class at Georgetown and thoroughly enjoyed it.

While liberal arts colleges may have less CS resources, they do have the benefit of small CS class sizes beyond the intro level. You'll find tight-knit computer science communities there as well. Hope this helps!

2 years ago

While it may be true that certain universities cap CS majors, these schools also tend to make it difficult to switch into CS programs later if you did not apply for it, so it's important to consider how important CS is for you. At the end of the day, studying something you're interested in is probably more important than where you study it, so I would encourage you to pursue CS even if it means you don't get into your top school. In addition, some schools (like UCSD) have the policy of admitting students to the university as a whole but rejecting them from the computer science program, meaning that you may as well apply to CS at these schools since it is less likely to hurt your overall application.

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Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


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