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The Secret Code: How to Study Computer Science without Majoring in Computer Science

It’s no secret that computer science is one of the hottest (and hardest to get into majors!) around these days. Here are some recent examples of how difficult undergraduate CS admissions is becoming:

 

– For the Fall 2017 admissions cycle, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign had more than 4,300 applications for their CS’s program’s approximately 215 seats.

– Think things were the same when your older relative applied as a CS major? Think again! According to the Computing Research Association, the number of CIS majors has more than doubled since 2011, and more than tripled since 2006.

 

As Computer Science grows more competitive, candidates for the major are being held to an increasingly high standard.

 

That said if you’re a student who’s interested in computer science (but not 100% sure if it’s the right major!) or want to maximize your chances of admission to a top-tier university, you may want to consider some of these alternative majors instead.

 

But just how big of a difference is there between the admit rates for CS majors and ‘sister’ majors?

 

Well, among admitted UCLA transfer students for Fall 2016, requirements were considerably more forgiving for students studying alternative majors to CS.

 

 

Applying to an alternate major can give students a complementary skill set, and often increase their odds of acceptance to universities where CS spots are limited. However, before you commit to an alternate major, consider the following:

 

A. What percent/how many CS classes do students take with this major?

B. What are the career prospects for this major- and how do they differ from a traditional CS degree?

C. Will you be attending a school where you can minor in CS?

 

Discovering the best alternative major only takes two simple steps:

 

1. Really examine: what draws you to computer science? Do you live to code, are you simply generally fascinated by all STEM subjects, or is there some other reason that draws you to CS?

Making this distinction is helpful. If you’re a true CS whiz and studying anything less wouldn’t cut it, then own this – and let that certainty guide your college search. And if not, you’ll have many excellent options to learn all about computers and technology without being a traditional CS major.

 

2. Tap into you other passions! By choosing a major that combines CS with your other passions, you can greatly expand your major options- see chart below.

Ultimately, by thinking outside the box and considering alternative majors, you’ll gain even more exciting and unique opportunities in a rapidly evolving field.

 

Curious about one of the majors listed in this chart? Learn more about it with the College Board’s excellent major search tool!

 

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