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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/chcp/workingpapers_docs/wp2013/Stinebrickner_Stinebrickner04.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP) in its series University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP) Working Papers with number 20134.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:uwo:hcuwoc:20134
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Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP), 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/chcp_workingpapers.html

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  19. Thomas N. Daymonti & Paul J. Andrisani, 1984. "Job Preferences, College Major, and the Gender Gap in Earnings," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 19(3), pages 408-428.
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  24. 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, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP) Working Papers 20111, University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP).
  25. Arcidiacono, Peter, 2004. "Ability sorting and the returns to college major," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 343-375.
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