Getting a Head Start on a College Major

During my last two posts, I have focused on picking college majors. This is the last post that I’m going to devote to majors for awhile. Here are my previous posts:

Chosing a College Major

College Majors: 5 Things You Need To Know

Is getting a head start on a college major a good thing?

Not according to a study on college majors that was conducted by Ofer Malamud, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Chicago.  He looked at the career choices of college graduates who attended school in Great Britain and Scotland and made some fascinating discoveries.

In Great Britain, students need to select an academic major while still in high school. In contrast, Scottish undergrads take a broad variety of courses before specializing in their last two years.

Curiously enough, the British college graduates who had to pick majors as teenagers were less likely to hold jobs related to their fields of study. Scottish grads, however, who had more time to explore majors before settling on one, were more likely to end up at jobs related to their academic work.

Here’s what Inside Higher Ed observed about the findings:

The students at Scottish institutions seem more likely to have chosen to study fields that successfully aligned with their career interest, says Malamud, success that he attributes to the time and freedom they’re given to experiment with a broad range of fields, and to learn both what they like and what they’re good at.

With many state schools experiencing deep budget cuts, I’m afraid an increasing number of students are going to have to choose majors before they are ready.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also write a college blog for CBSMoneyWatch.com and US News.

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