One of the key criteria students consider when applying to college is their major. Students search for colleges that have the major they want to study and apply to those colleges. Evaluating major during the college planning and admissions process and before committing to a college can help you or your student save on college costs.
First, look at the requirements for the major at different colleges. Even though colleges may have the same major, the requirements for the major can vary depending on the college. This can be done by looking on the colleges' websites. You or your student can find the requirements in the college catalog or bulletin or within the pages of the website that's dedicated to that particular major. Compare the different requirements and make a note of the main differences such as the level and number of credits in a particular discipline such as math, science, or foreign language. Also, look at the course names of major requirements and the descriptions. Do the degree requirements at one college play to your strengths or interests more than at another college? Revisit these notes again after you or your student has received admissions decisions and before committing to a college. Attending a college where the degree requirements more closely align with your strengths and interests can help you or your student not to pay more for college by eliminating the need to retake classes or change majors, or by preventing the loss of scholarships due to a low GPA. When students take classes that they enjoy and can do well in, it helps with the overall happiness with the college experience, and that can affect the cost of college by eliminating college transfers, higher grades, time in college, and degree completion.
Second, look at the colleges' website to see if you will receive credits that will go towards your degree requirements for tests taken in high school, such as AP or IB. Those credits can help you or your student enroll in courses within the major earlier and possibly earn a second degree, a minor, or graduate in less time.
Third, check to see if your college offers placement tests. These tests can allow the student to place out of particular requirements or place the student in a higher-level course. The openings can give you or your student available time and credits to take other courses.
Fourth, if you plan to study abroad, check to see if the college has options that correlate with your major. If the college does not, make sure that you or your student plans study abroad courses in advance so that it does not delay progress towards the major requirements.
Evaluating major and degree requirements before committing to a college can help you or your student choose the college where the intended major is most suited for the student and help the student not to pay more for college.