Competitive majors: must-know tips for transfers from a transfer student

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Are you planning to transfer to Colorado State and begin the journey to become a Ram? You may have read through the steps to apply as a transfer student and know the admissions requirements. All that’s left is to decide on a major.

You pick a potential major and realize it is listed as “competitive.” What does this mean? Is there anything I can do now at my current school to help the process go smoothly?

As a transfer student who pursued a competitive major, these same questions flew around in my own mind. I am proud to say that I did declare a competitive major. And I totally understand the weight of the situation. I’m here to help you through the process by sharing tips and tricks that I picked up myself.

What exactly is a competitive major?

First, let’s break down the definition of a competitive major and what that means for transfer students. A competitive major is an undergraduate degree program with certain GPA and course work requirements you must complete before you can enter the major. For transfer students, the requirements are different than what is needed from freshmen/first-year students. They typically include coursework requirements you’ve done beforehand.

How do I get accepted to a competitive major?

For all competitive majors at CSU, there are required classes that need to be taken beforehand. It can be difficult to determine which classes at your current institution are the correct ones, or if your school offers them at all. Luckily, there are some guidelines you can follow and online tools to help.

#1. Be aware of GPA requirements.

All competitive majors require a specific cumulative GPA. You’ll need to maintain a steady and good standing GPA.

#2. Find out which courses are needed for your intended major now.

The sooner you understand which courses are required in order to get into your competitive major, the sooner you can complete them. Some courses are easier to determine and are most likely offered as a general-education course at your institution. For example, the Biomedical Science major requires a ‘B’ or better in a semester of chemistry and biology courses. These types of classes are typically fairly simple to enroll in at most schools. Other majors, like Journalism and Media Communication, require courses a little bit more specific.

#3. Use Transferology.

Transferology allows you to input courses that you’ve taken or are planning to take at your current institution. You can then find out how they will transfer over to CSU. It’s a great planning tool. Check out this tutorial on how to use Transferology. If you are unable to find a certain course or your institution is not showing up, contact us for help.

#4. Gain as much experience as you can at your current institution.

Join a club, sign up for student media, or look for research opportunities. Whatever major you’re trying to pursue — especially a competitive major — it will help to gain experience.

What if I don’t get accepted right away?

So now you know everything you need to declare yourself as a competitive major. But what happens if you are still unable to meet the requirements when you apply to CSU? You’re definitely not the first person this has happened to. As a transfer student, I first came to CSU hoping to pursue a business major, but was unable to meet the requirements. At first I was upset, but then decided to take a variety of classes to see if there was a new path for me. While taking classes I found that I had a passion for journalism. I met with professors and students in that major and found myself meeting the requirements needed to declare it for the next semester. Here are some tips that helped me as I went through the process:

#1. On your application, be sure to list a second-interest major along with your preferred major.

This will serve as a backup in case you don’t get into your preferred major.

If you have gained less than 60 credits from your previous institution, you can opt to be in the “exploratory interest” category for the major you’re seeking. You’ll then take courses in that interest area during your first semester. This will allow you to gain the grades and GPA needed to declare yourself in the major you are working toward.

If you have more than 60 credits from your institution, you won’t be able to come in as exploratory interest. You can, however, pursue a non-competitive major and then request a major change once you’ve met the requirements.

#2. Meet with your assigned advisor or an exploratory studies advisor.

Your advisor’s job is to help you succeed in obtaining the major you want to pursue. They will work with you to achieve your goal of declaring yourself as a competitive major.

#3. Reach out to professors in your desired major.

Send a message to one or two professors. Explain that you just transferred and are hoping to join that department the following semester. They may know of ways to get involved in the department before officially declaring yourself as a major.

You can do it!

The transfer process can be stressful. Trying to meet requirements for competitive majors can make the situation feel even more nerve wracking. It’s important to plan everything out ahead of time, take it day by day, and reach out to as many resources as you can find. I hope that my experience will help you pursue the major that you love.

Holly Landis

Holly Landis is a CSU grad with a major Journalism and Media Communication and a minor in Film Studies. She’s a lover of film, television, and theatre, and plans to pursue a career in writing or content creation within the entertainment industry. You can usually find her eating a bowl of mac ‘n cheese or laughing at her own jokes.