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

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.

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File URL: http://economics.uwo.ca/cibc/workingpapers_docs/wp2013/Stinebrickner_Stinebrickner04.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity in its series University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity Working Papers with number 20134.

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Date of creation: 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:uwo:hcuwoc:20134
Contact details of provider: Postal: CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity, Social Science Centre, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada N6A 5C2
Phone: 519-661-2111 Ext.85244
Web page: http://economics.uwo.ca/research/research_papers/cibc_workingpapers.html

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  2. Robert Jensen, 2010. "The (Perceived) Returns to Education and the Demand for Schooling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(2), pages 515-548, May.
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  6. Katja Maria Kaufmann, 2010. "Understanding the Income Gradient in College Attendance in Mexico: The Role of Heterogeneity in Expected Returns," Working Papers 362, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
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  9. Todd Stinebrickner & Ralph Stinebrickner, 2012. "Learning about Academic Ability and the College Dropout Decision," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(4), pages 707 - 748.
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  11. Todd Stinebrickner & Ralph Stinebrickner, 2011. "Math or Science? Using Longitudinal Expectations Data to Examine the Process of Choosing a College Major," University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity Working Papers 20111, University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity.
  12. Jeff Dominitz & Charles F. Manski, 1994. "Eliciting Student Expectations of the Returns to Schooling," NBER Working Papers 4936, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Arcidiacono, Peter & Hotz, V. Joseph & Kang, Songman, 2010. "Modeling College Major Choices Using Elicited Measures of Expectations and Counterfactuals," IZA Discussion Papers 4738, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. Todd Stinebrickner & Ralph Stinebrickner, 2001. "Time Use and College Outcomes," University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity Working Papers 20012, University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity.
  15. James, Estelle, et al, 1989. "College Quality and Future Earnings: Where Should You Send Your Child to College?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(2), pages 247-52, May.
  16. Stinebrickner Ralph & Stinebrickner Todd R., 2008. "The Causal Effect of Studying on Academic Performance," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-55, June.
  17. Loury, Linda Datcher & Garman, David, 1995. "College Selectivity and Earnings," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 289-308, April.
  18. Cory Koedel & Peter Arcidiacono, 2012. "Race and College Success: Evidence from Missouri," Working Papers 1212, Department of Economics, University of Missouri, revised 15 Jul 2013.
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  20. Adeline Delavande, 2008. "Measuring revisions to subjective expectations," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 36(1), pages 43-82, February.
  21. Manski, Charles F., 1989. "Schooling as experimentation: a reappraisal of the postsecondary dropout phenomenon," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 305-312, August.
  22. Orazio Attanasio & Katja Kaufmann, 2009. "Educational Choices, Subjective Expectations, and Credit Constraints," NBER Working Papers 15087, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Martin Browning & Jesus Carro, 2006. "Heterogeneity and Microeconometrics Modelling," CAM Working Papers 2006-03, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Applied Microeconometrics.
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  25. F. Thomas Juster, 1966. "Consumer Buying Intentions and Purchase Probability: An Experiment in Survey Design," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number just66-2, October.
  26. Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Donald, Stephen G., 2008. "The effect of college curriculum on earnings: An affinity identifier for non-ignorable non-response bias," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 144(2), pages 479-491, June.
  27. Olivier Armantier & Scott Nelson & Giorgio Topa & Wilbert van der Klaauw & Basit Zafar, 2012. "The price is right: updating of inflation expectations in a randomized price information experiment," Staff Reports 543, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  28. Jeff Grogger & Eric Eide, 1995. "Changes in College Skills and the Rise in the College Wage Premium," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(2), pages 280-310.
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  30. Dominitz, Jeff & Hung, Angela A., 2009. "Empirical models of discrete choice and belief updating in observational learning experiments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 94-109, February.
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