Future earnings, skill, interest, and employment opportunities are possible factors behind a college student’s decision of a major in which they will receive their degree. In a 2012 research study, Arcidiacono, Hotz, and Kang concluded that expected salary and students’ skills are strong factors in determining how students at Duke University choose their major. However, the students at Duke University are not representative of the overall college population, and students at other universities, such as Kent State University, may differ in their choices. Data is collected by surveying students about their major and prospective earnings. Students are asked to identify 1st, 2nd, and 3rd quartiles of earnings in their major category and 8 other categories along with identifying where they would place themselves on those spectrums. We also analyze their level of risk aversion through a dice lottery question and ask them to rank other factors that may lead them to choose their major such as interest, mentor influence, or ease of the major. We have begun creating a model that discerns which of these factors have the largest effect on major decision. Our preliminary analysis indicates that students’ decisions are more based on interests and skills as opposed to future earnings.
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