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National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition

Publication Details

Socioeconomic Status and College Major: A Reexamination of the Empirical Evidence


Author(s): Williams, M. L., Leppel, K., & Waldauer, C.

Citation: Williams, M. L., Leppel, K., & Waldauer, C. (2005). Socioeconomic Status and College Major: A Reexamination of the Empirical Evidence. Journal of The First-Year Experience & Students in Transition, 17(2), 49-72.

 

Abstract

This study extends the work of Davies and Guppy (1997) in examining the effects of socioeconomic status on student choice of college major. As hypothesized, parental occupations are important determinants of choice of major, with mothers' occupations having a stronger but different impact. There are no racial/ethnic differences among student choices, except that Asian students are much more likely to select majors related to higher income fields. Higher paying majors also are chosen by students who enter college at an older age, have high academic ability, are male, and feel it is very important to be well-off financially. However, students from families with high socioeconomic status have a much greater probability of selecting lower income fields.

 

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