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Common App declaring of major

aikmanbabeaikmanbabe 0 replies1 threads New Member
Each school has a list of possible majors to declare, which is a puzzle which seems to lack all the pieces. My daughter is a rising 12th grader who is interested in the medical field; possibly a physician or a physician’s assistant. Now, does that make her major biology? We have no clue what to choose. Any help?
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Replies to: Common App declaring of major

  • helpingmom40helpingmom40 440 replies10 threads Member
    You could do bio, chem, biochem or look at pre-professional programs. D20 has some friends who done nursing to become a NP and one is going that route to apply to med school, thinking she can work for a little while to save money.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 84645 replies752 threads Senior Member
    A pre-med student can choose any major, but needs to include the pre-med courses. Many choose biology as a major because of substantial overlap, but this is not required -- some premeds major in other sciences, math or statistics, humanities, or social studies.

    However, some health care subjects are undergraduate rather than professional school majors (e.g. nursing). In those cases, the student would apply for the specific major. Note that nursing course work does not necessarily match pre-med requirements, and medical schools may not necessarily want to reduce the pool of nurses.
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  • compmomcompmom 12089 replies82 threads Senior Member
    edited August 14
    You can major in anything for med school but have to cover prerequisites. There are post-baccalaureate programs to accomplish this, so it is possible to finish college without any biology and still apply to med school. Of course you have to pay for the post-bacc program. Here is an example: https://www.goucher.edu/learn/graduate-programs/post-baccalaureate-premed-program/ There are lots of them.

    Of course a large number of students change their major. Is this for a school like a UC? For many schools, undeclared is fine, or putting down a major in an area of interest with the understanding it may change. At many schools you declare a major at the end of sophomore year and whatever you put on the application is far from binding. Schools probably want a ballpark.
    edited August 14
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  • SchadretSchadret 162 replies20 threads Junior Member
    As people have already said, you can major in ANYTHING and then go to medical school.

    Most med schools require you to have taken (varies by school, always check individual schools):

    2 semesters of biology w/lab
    2 semesters of general chemistry w/lab
    1 semester organic chemistry
    1 semester biochemistry
    **note a lot of schools have 2 semesters of organic chemistry and don't have the biochem requirement
    2 semesters of physics w/lab
    1 semester math (usually they seem to list calc or stats)

    So if you want to be a theater major, you just need to get the above classes fit in your schedule as well.. otherwise you can take them after college in a postbaccalaureate program, and then apply.
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  • virgosunvirgosun 34 replies9 threads Junior Member
    You can also reach out to the school or browse the website to try to figure out if the major you declare on the Common App is a commitment. Some schools have you declare a major on the common app, but if you attend you actually go into the school undeclared. Some schools the major you declare is the major you will start with, but the process of switching is fairly early. It just depends.
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  • HighTide2020HighTide2020 110 replies0 threads Junior Member
    I've been wondering about this, too. My last kid (rising HS senior) is really undecided and doesn't want to put something down and be locked in. I keep telling him he won't be. I thought I read once where over 70% of college students change their majors.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 84645 replies752 threads Senior Member
    I've been wondering about this, too. My last kid (rising HS senior) is really undecided and doesn't want to put something down and be locked in. I keep telling him he won't be. I thought I read once where over 70% of college students change their majors.

    However, some majors at some colleges are completely "full". Getting into the major later can be difficult (requiring a high college GPA or competitive admission). Computer science and engineering majors at some of the selective state flagships are some examples.
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  • sgopal2sgopal2 3980 replies52 threads Senior Member
    Pick something else besides bio. Nearly all of the potential pre-meds list that as their major interest. The colleges like to have balance of majors, so picking bio will not help. Another STEM field would be good, but even liberal arts fields like English and History would work. As long as they can do the pre-med requirements separately apart from the major.
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  • PikachuRocks15PikachuRocks15 494 replies2 threads Member
    It depends on the college in-question.

    Most private schools (USC is a notable exception, but will allow you to change your major after admission,) don't admit you directly to your major but either to the college or to a school in-general (Engineering, Arts & Sciences, Music etc.)

    Some public universities, on the other-hand, such as UW mainly admit high-schoolers DIRECTLY into their most-competitive majors, like CS, and it is difficult, if not impossible, to gain admission into these majors once you're an enrolled undergraduate.

    At UW, for Biology, it has a separate application in your Sophomore year, so you're admitted as a pre-major (which doesn't mean much.) Neuroscience, on the other hand, DOES have a direct to major option.

    For most public and private universities, if the college splits their academic majors into "schools (engineering, arts & sci etc.") this means that while CS might be offered in Arts & Sciences and you could potentially apply to English and declare a CS major instead, a major like Biomedical Engineering would be located in another school: you would have to undergo a inter-school transfer or dual-degree application (which may be competitive or have specific requirements.) At Vanderbilt, for example, students wishing to undergo an inter-school transfer have to wait a year before doing so, and this might impact your ability to gain spots in the introductory classes.

    Also, your major needs to fit with the "story" your application is telling. If an admissions officer was to look at your extracurricular activities, essays, interview, letters of recommendation etc, would they find support for the major choice you listed on your application? Unless you apply as an undecided major, this is one of the most important parts of your application, as it's much harder to create a strong application if your ECs are all in History and you're applying for CS without any courses or activities in the field (a bit of an extreme example, but one nonetheless.)

    Hope that helps! Good luck with admissions!
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  • bopperbopper Forum Champion CWRU 14586 replies107 threads Forum Champion
    edited September 9
    My daughter did pre-med and psychology. She was able to fit all the classes in but would need to take the MCAT during senior year not junior year and would then have a gap year between BS and med school.

    Does she like science? Bio or Chem are good majors. But some people do Engineering, Psychology, Medical Anthropology or anything else you are interested in. GPA is very important so pick a major you can do well in.

    Have her look at sample schedules at some potential colleges.
    For example, at TCNJ here is a sample pre-med plan for non-bio/chem majors.

    If your child doesn't really know, have them apply to the most competitive of the possible majors they are interested in(e.g., Bio, Engineering)...they can always transfer out but it is difficult to transfer in.
    Or look at schools, e.g., CWRU, that have a single-door admissions policy where you don't have to apply to "schools".

    Also FYI, nursing is not a pre-med major. It is its own separate thing.
    edited September 9
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