Undecided About Your Major?

Many seniors working on college applications are worried about what major to choose, and how that choice will impact their prospects for admission. Admissions officers know that college students typically change majors two or three times. If you’re applying to a liberal arts college, they don’t usually pay much attention to the major you choose on your application. It’s perfectly acceptable to say you’re undecided.  You might not be ready to commit to a major, but you want them to know you have interests and you are excited about exploring those interests, and that’s something you can often address in a supplemental essay about why you are applying to that college or what academic interests you plan to pursue.

Some students think that by choosing a subject that is under-enrolled at the college, they can increase their chances of being admitted, but admissions officers can recognize students who try to gain admission this way, and students would need to show evidence of serious interest in that subject in order for that choice to have any impact on an admission decision.

Some public universities do admit by program, but there is usually some flexibility. University of California campuses do not generally admit to specific majors, though they do admit to a specific college (College of Letters and Science, School of Information and Computer Science, College of Engineering, etc). There are certain programs at some UC campuses that do admit by major, like Berkeley’s College of Engineering (undeclared engineering is an option). And there are a few schools, like Cal Poly at San Luis Obispo, that admit all students by specific major, and you need to choose carefully because it may not be easy to change majors once you’re enrolled at the school.

In addition to researching majors on each college’s website, you can explore majors and careers  at College Board Big Future or What to do with a major. For most students, there is time to choose a major once you’re on campus. But before applying to a college, make sure you understand its policy on major selection and commitment. It’s one of the factors that can make a school a good fit or not the right school for you.

Success Stories

  • Russ M., San Gabriel
    "Just wanted to let you know that we are very relieved and want to thank you for your help in this stressful process. Terry received an acceptance from Swarthmore on top of a Grinnell acceptance (that one included offer of an $18,000 a year merit scholarship). Oberlin and Rochester are offering nice merit scholarships as well. Thanks again for your counsel, both practical and psychological, on Terry's college application journey."
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