Pros and Cons of Declaring a STEM Major on Your College Application

In recent years, science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields have been growing fast. With the increased emphasis on STEM, admission to university STEM majors has become extremely competitive.

If you’re hoping for admission to a STEM-field focused major, you may plan to show this focus on your university applications. Still, you may have benefit in applying as an undeclared major and waiting until your sophomore or freshman year to declare a STEM major. Before deciding your course of action, consider following four questions.

Is admission to a STEM major more complex as a high school student?

The particular universities or colleges you apply to and the quality of the application profile will find the answer to this question. However, you should surely research this further before deciding to declare a STEM major on your university or college application.


Some schools may motivate you to declare you’re major as a high school senior student; others may hope to see your freshman-year performance – including in one or more STEM classes – before admitting you to your selected major. Also think about speaking with former or current STEM students to ask which path they found most advantageous.

Is the timing and complexity of admissions consistent across all STEM fields?

Not all STEM fields are similarly competitive. Whether you should declare your interest in a STEM major during the university application procedure will depend, to some extent, on the competitiveness of the school’s specific program. Careful research can assist you make an informed decision.

Investigate and examine the specific STEM major you are determine and considering whether admission to this program is less or more competitive than admission to others in the field. You may be able to get this information via an internet search, and you may need to contact the admissions office at each college or school that interests you.

Be sure to also ask whether declaring a major on your college application could give you an advantage. If several students wait to declare this major as university sophomores, for example, you may have benefits applying as a high school senior student with a declared major.

Does an undeclared major sacrifice you a year or more of support?

Certain STEM departments at several universities may offer support – such as scholarships, access to subject-specific databases or networking and libraries opportunities – that are exclusive to declared majors. If you find this to be the case through your research, you may want to indicate your intended major on your application, even if this does not provide you any admissions advantage.

For instance major-specific scholarships available only to incoming freshmen student can be excellent opportunities to assist pay for university, mainly if you are sure about your course of study. And do not dismiss other resources available to students with declared majors, including counseling in course selection.

Should some students opt for delayed or immediate entry to a STEM major?

If you are committed to majoring in a STEM, be sure to inquire as to whether your colleges of choice recommend either delayed or immediate entry for particular groups of students. For instance, students with straight A’s in high school, as well as relevant extra-curricular experience, may wish to preemptively declare a competitive major on their applications, while students with B’s or C’s on their high school transcripts may want to wait for delayed entry to first strengthen their academic records.

Tough competition for admission to STEM field majors at many schools, it is significant high school students hoping to get into the field think all the factors before declaring a major. Do not take this choice lightly.

And be sure to ask several questions – including the questions we have highlighted – before making your last decision. Doing so will assist make sure you have the best chance of securing admission to your top college and program?


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