publication . Article . Research . Preprint . 2013

A Major in Science? Initial Beliefs and Final Outcomes for College Major and Dropout

Stinebrickner, Ralph; Stinebrickner, Todd;
Open Access
  • Published: 01 Jan 2013 Journal: Review of Economic Studies, volume 81, issue 1, pages 426-472
  • Publisher: London (Ontario): The University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity
Abstract
Taking advantage of unique longitudinal data, we provide the first characterization of what college students believe at the time of entrance about their final major, relate these beliefs to actual major outcomes, and provide an understanding of why students hold the initial beliefs about majors that they do. The data collection and analysis are based directly on a conceptual model in which a student's final major is best viewed as the end result of a learning process. We find that students enter school quite optimistic about obtaining a science degree, but that relatively few students end up graduating with a science degree. The substantial overoptimism about co...
Subjects
acm: ComputingMilieux_COMPUTERSANDEDUCATION
free text keywords: College Major, Education, Dropout, Science, Learning, Expectations Data, Education; College Major; Dropout; Science; Learning; Expectations Data, jel:I21, jel:I23, jel:J0, ddc:330

1See Daymont and Andrisani (1984), Grogger and Eide (1995), Hamermesh and Donald (2008), Loury (1997), Loury and Garman (1995), and James, Nabeel, Conaty and To (1989).

2This desire has received much attention. See, for example, “Why Science Majors Change Their Minds (It's just so darn hard).” NY Times, November 4, 2011.

3For other work recognizing the importance of learning in determining educational outcomes see, for example, Manski 1989; Altonji 1993; Carneiro, Hansen and Heckman 2003; Cunha, Heckman and Navarro 2005. Note: Numbers in the second column (percent chance) should each be between 0 and 100 and should add up to 100. Note: A=4.0, B=3.0, C=2.0, D=1.0, F=0.0. So numbers in third column (GPA) should be between 0.00 and 4.00.

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publication . Article . Research . Preprint . 2013

A Major in Science? Initial Beliefs and Final Outcomes for College Major and Dropout

Stinebrickner, Ralph; Stinebrickner, Todd;