When many students (and particularly parents) first approach us, they so often tell us that they (or their children) are interested in majoring in such and such and in becoming a such and such. And that’s all well and good but when students and parents start listing off colleges that have strong such and such programs, they often hear a sigh from us. This is because we’ve been doing this a very long time and we know that college students tend to change their intended majors every other Tuesday, depending on the weather. Or maybe depending on how well they slept the previous night.
To choose a college based on an intended major can often be shortsighted. Want to be a journalist? Then apply to Northwestern. Medill is, in our opinion, the top undergraduate journalism program in America. But what if you end up going to Medill only to realize that you want to major in physics? What if you end up going to Medill and you realize you have absolutely not the slightest interest in journalism? Well, it’s not too difficult to switch out of Medill within Northwestern, but we always encourage our students to consider the fact that they may seek to change their intended major every other Tuesday (or maybe every Tuesday and Thursday). And if they’re going to do this, they should strongly consider not limiting the colleges they wish to apply to based on the school’s reputation for that major.
The fact is that very few people know if Princeton has a better computer science department than Harvard, or vice versa. The fact is that everyone’s experience is different. Maybe the best computer science professor will be on maternity leave when a student would have otherwise taken her course. Maybe a professor may switch from Princeton to Emory. Who knows. The best course of action to take is to try to gain admission to the very best, most prestigious university that you can. And the rest will follow. Even if you change your major every Tuesday. Even if you changed your major while in the course of reading this blog.
While you’re here, you might want to check out our post about English majors.