At some point during your college search, you’ve probably heard friends, parents, or teachers tell you that attending college is “a time to find yourself.” It’s not bad advice, but what if you already have a relatively clear idea of what you want to study?
The truth is, there’s nothing wrong with knowing what you want to major in before you get into college. In fact, there are a few reasons that listing a desired major on your application could give you an edge when it comes to getting into and paying for college.
1. Helps you build relationships in your department
It’s never too early to start preparing for life as a college student. If you already know what you want to major in, you can reach out to professors in advance to get advice on how to prepare for their classes. These connections make it easier for you to transition to college, and could make you a more successful student during your freshman year.
2. Provides access to more scholarship money
While there are plenty of general scholarships for incoming undergraduates, other tuition awards and grants are designated for students in a particular department or program. In some cases, the departments themselves may offer scholarship money to prospective students that indicate an interest in a specific major or program of study. Check out Scholarships.com for a full listing of scholarships sorted by major.
3. Reduces your admission competition
At some schools, when you indicate that you’re interested in a specific program or major, they only compare you to other applicants interested in the same major. This approach can be a double-edged sword, because if you indicate an interest in a particular program and aren’t accepted, you might not be allowed to choose a backup. Check with the particular schools you’re interested in to see what their policy is on students who declare a major on their application.
4. Shows that you have initiative
Some colleges don’t pay much attention to declared majors on applications, but other schools take it as a sign that an applicant is serious about what they want to get out of attending college. An applicant with a clear vision of what they want to study often becomes a responsible, high-achieving student, the type that every college loves. Listing a major on your application shows that you have already put time and energy into your academic career, a good sign that you will take college seriously once you’re accepted.
One big reason not to choose a major
None of the above points are as important as picking a program of study that goes well with your skills and interests. If you are even slightly unsure of what you want to major in, your best bet is to wait until you start college to decide. Being undecided won’t put you at a disadvantage when applying for schools, and you might even find an undiscovered ability or passion. Research shows that 75% of college students change majors at least once before graduating, so don’t feel like you have to pick a specific area of study before applying. Instead, learn as much as you can and keep your options open so that you can choose a major that’s right for you.
Looking for assistance choosing a major? Grab our Majors and Careers 101 guide to get more information about picking the best course of study: