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Freshman pick majors

By Earl C. Yen

First in a two-part series examining freshmen choices of majors.

The MIT Registrar has released the results of its survey of intended majors of the Class of 1988. Seventy-five percent of the freshman class responded to the survey, which was conducted by the Undergraduate Academic Support Office (UASO).

The survey indicates that there may be a drop in next year's enrollment in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS).

Twenty-nine percent of the respondents indicated that they plan to major in Course VI, compared to 33 percent of the Class of '87, 36 percent of the Class of '86, and 32 percent of the Class of '85.

"It looks hopeful," said UASO Executive Officer Peggy Richardson. "Students seem to be spreading out."

Freshman advisors were encouraged to "talk to students about the alternatives," Richardson continued. "Too many students were not going in [Course VI] for the right reasons," she explained. "We hope that most advisors did [talk to] students that were undecided."

It is impossible to tell whether the apparent decrease in Course VI enrollment is a result of a "natural movement" away from Course VI or is caused by the creation of the new alternative programs in Physics, Mathematics, and Management, Richardson said.

Professor Kenneth R. Manning, chairman of the Committee on Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid (CUAFA), said that the survey will be used to help decide whether or not the CUAFA will place restrictions on Course VI enrollment for entering freshmen classes beginning with the Class of 1990.

The Committee on Educational Policy's EECS restriction plan, which the faculty approved last October, sets a limit of 310 students in Course VI enrollment for the Class of 1988 as a condition for avoiding restrictive admissions for future freshmen classes.

"If the numbers look clearly favorable, the CUAFA will probably want to act to not emplace restrictions," said Manning. "If it's borderline or unfavorable, CUAFA will wait until the [Registrar's] third-day count of majors and then decide."

The survey projects 308 students will enroll in EECS, but this number does not include the six percent of the freshmen who said they were undesignated. If one-quarter of the undesignated freshmen enter Course VI, 324 students will enroll in Course VI.

Manning was unable to comment on whether the survey results appear favorable. "I really have to wait until the committee meets as a whole," he said. "I can't make that decision for the committee."