The Myth: It’s easier to get in as undecided than a major in a professional school.
The Verdict: Not at USC.
Of all the myths I’ll talk about this year, I’m pretty sure this is the one I face the most as an admission professional. I’ve lost count of how many students come up to me after an event or high school visit and say something like, “The opportunities in the Marshall School of Business are amazing. I plan to study business at USC, but I’m thinking of applying as undecided since Marshall is super competitive.”
Yes, Marshall is competitive. So are engineering, communication, music, undecided, and every major at USC. The overall admission process is highly selective, and students won’t be at an advantage if they apply undecided. In fact, it is in a student’s best interest to apply to their major of choice if they know what they want to study in college. Students at USC get started in their major right away and are able to take advantage of their program’s resources in their very first semester on campus.
The USC Writing Supplement on the Common Application allows students to list a first and second choice major. Students will always be considered for their top choice first, and if a student is not found a fit for that major, they will be considered for their second choice major as well as undecided. We evaluate a student’s fit for all appropriate options when reviewing applications.
Some majors do like to see preparation and fit for major. For example, a student applying to business should have four years of strong high school math. Engineering and science applicants should have four years of strong math and science. This doesn’t make admission to these majors any harder or easier for a particular student; it just means that we are looking for additional ways that a student will be a fit for their applied major. The six visual and performing art schools are looking for artists who are willing and eager to expand their existing talents. The number of applicants for these art programs combined with the subjective review process may make admission into the art programs competitive, but it wouldn’t be any easier for a student to get into an art program at a later time if they originally were admitted to USC as another major.
I think the reason why this conversation even takes place is because a student really wants to get into USC and will do whatever it takes to increase their chances. My advice is to apply to the major that interests you. It will allow you to answer our questions with passion and excitement, which will help us determine your fit for your major and for USC.
Until next time,