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

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  • Ralph Stinebrickner
  • Todd R. Stinebrickner

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 completing a degree in science can be attributed largely to students beginning school with misperceptions about their ability to perform well academically in science. Copyright 2014, Oxford University Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Review of Economic Studies.

Volume (Year): 81 (2014)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 426-472

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Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:81:y:2014:i:1:p:426-472

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Cited by:
  1. Ralph Stinebrickner & Todd Stinebrickner, 2013. "Academic Performance and College Dropout: Using Longitudinal Expectations Data to Estimate a Learning Model," University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity Working Papers 20135, University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity.
  2. Schnepf, Sylke V., 2014. "Do Tertiary Dropout Students Really Not Succeed in European Labour Markets?," IZA Discussion Papers 8015, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Michelle Rendall & Andrew Rendall, 2013. "Math Matters: Student Ability, College Majors, and Wage Inequality," 2013 Meeting Papers 1196, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  4. Abel, Jaison R. & Deitz, Richard & Su, Yaquin, 2014. "Are recent college graduates finding good jobs?," Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 20.

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