Second-Choice Admissions: Second-Choice Major or Second-Choice School?
My journey has taken me to public universities of various sizes, some popularly known for a given academic program within their school. It has not been unusual, for instance, to hear that students chose Virginia Tech for their architecture or engineering school, the University of Maryland-College Park for journalism or politics, Miami of Ohio for their business program or Rutgers-New Brunswick for performing arts or pharmacy. The popularity of these schools and/or programs goes beyond state borders.
Admissions officers are well aware that some programs are better known or more competitive than others.
They’re honest enough to admit that when they conduct an information session. They also advise prospective students and their parents to have a second major in mind. This is called second-choice admissions. Second-choice admissions offer bright students the option to take on another academic program or enter with an undeclared major.In some cases they can still take the introductory courses that they would have taken in their first-choice program.
Should your student choose between a school and a major?
It depends. Some students may like the school. They may also realize that a very similar program (for example, chemistry instead of chemical engineering) might help them get where they want to go. Or maybe their heart was not really set on that first-choice program. Maybe that school was also their least-cost option, like their home state university.
Suppose a student was not offered admission to the pharmacy school at Rutgers. But she was accepted under second-choice admissions as a biology major in the School of Arts and Sciences. She also applies to two pharmacy programs in Philadelphia, the University of the Sciences and Temple, and gets into both. It’s less expensive to go to Rutgers and study something else than it is to go to one of the other two schools. However, it may be impossible to transfer into pharmacy. Does s/he choose the school or the profession?
It’s easier to change schools than change careers. If your heart is set on the career, pursue the career.
If you’re not necessarily committed to a career, choose the school that is your least-cost option or the one where you believe that you will get the most help to make the best decision.
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Listen to my talk, College Is A Learning AND Living Community, hosted by Dr. Cynthia Colon from Destination YOUniversity on Voice of America Radio!
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