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Choice of Major can Affect Whether Students Gets in College


If you’re planning to go to Clemson and you want to be an architect or a nurse, better cross your fingers. Those are two of the school’s most popular majors and they have limited spaces available, said Clemson admissions director Robert Barkley.

The acceptance rate for architecture majors at Clemson last year was 41 percent. The acceptance rate for general engineering majors 71 percent. Barkley said the university has plenty of room for engineers in his freshman class, not so much room for future architects.

Students can list a second option for a major, “so if we can’t accommodate their first choice we can look at their second choice,” Barkley said.

That’s not the case at the University of South Carolina, at least not for freshman, said Scott Verzyl, the undergraduate admissions director. Verzyl said freshmen who qualify for admission get in regardless of their major. But they are not guaranteed a seat in that field.

International business, the university’s most competitive undergraduate program, has a limited number of spaces and students admitted to the business school have to list a second major if they want to try the international business track.

USC’s nursing school also will admit only top students to the upper division of the program, Verzyl said.

For transfer students coming into competitive fields, major is a factor of whether they get into USC. Choice of major also could become a factor for international business, nursing and other popular majors, such as engineering and computer science, pharmacy, exercise science and journalism.

Choice of major typically doesn’t affect admissions at liberal arts colleges.

“At Furman, at Wofford, at the liberal arts colleges, (students) make one application,” said Benny Walker, assistant to the president at Furman University in Greenville and a senior associate at the Richard W. Riley Institute. “They aren’t competing for a school; they are just competing for a spot in the class.”

It’s not unusual for larger schools to have different admissions requirements for different programs, said David Hawkins, director of public policy and research at the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

Hawkins also said some schools may consider a student’s other interests or goals in determining what that student might do for a particular program or major.

“If you have a passion, whether or not you want to major in it, you want to clearly articulate that in your application for admission,” Hawkins said.

Information from: The Greenville News,

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