Major as Most Important College Choice Factor

When students register for the ACT, they can rank in order of importance up to seven factors (e.g., location, tuition, enrollment size) that were considered during their college selection process. Approximately half of all students who ranked the factors selected the availability of a college major as the most important factor in selecting a college.

Percent of ACT-Tested High School Graduates Who Indicated Availability of College Major as Most Important Factor in Choosing a College by ACT Composite Score and Gender, 2013

  • The percentage of students who indicated availability of college major as the most important factor in choosing a college increases with ACT Composite score.
  • Gender differences in the share of students who indicated availability of college major as the most important factor in choosing a college are evident at the upper and lower ranges of the score scale.
Chart showing Percent of ACT-Tested High School Graduates Who Indicated Availability of College Major as Most Important Factor in Choosing a College by ACT Composite Score and Gender, 2013

Graph reads: 53% of females from the ACT-tested high school graduating class of 2013 with an ACT Composite score in the range of 20–23 indicated that availability of college major was the most important factor in selecting a college.

ACT Composite
Score Range
FemaleMale
1–1541%37%
16–1946%43%
20–2353%50%
24–2757%57%
28–3261%64%
33–3665%69%

Note: Based on 70% of the ACT-tested high school graduating class of 2013 who reported gender, selected a planned major when they registered for the ACT, and ranked in order of importance at least 1 of the 7 college choice factors listed on the ACT registration form.


Percent of ACT-Tested High School Graduates Who Indicated Availability of College Major as Most Important Factor in Choosing a College by Parent Education Level and Gender, 2013

  • As parent education level increases, the percentage of students who indicated availability of college major as the most important factor in choosing a college increases.
  • For students whose parents earned less than a bachelor’s degree, a greater percentage of females than males indicated availability of college major as the most important factor in choosing a college.
Chart showing Percent of ACT-Tested High School Graduates Who Indicated Availability of College Major as Most Important Factor in Choosing a College by Parent Education Level and Gender, 2013

Graph reads: 56% of males from the ACT-tested high school graduating class of 2013 whose parents earned a graduate degree indicated that availability of college major was the most important factor in selecting a college.

Parent Education LevelFemaleMale
No College45%42%
Some College51%48%
Bachelor’s Degree54%53%
Graduate Degree56%56%

Note: Based on 67% of the ACT-tested high school graduating class of 2013 who reported gender and parent education level, selected a planned major when they registered for the ACT, and ranked in order of importance at least 1 of the 7 college choice factors listed on the ACT registration form.


Percent of ACT-Tested High School Graduates Who Indicated Availability of College Major as Most Important Factor in Choosing a College by Degree Plans and Gender, 2013

  • As degree plans increase, the percentage of students who indicated availability of college major as the most important factor in choosing a college also increases.
  • For students who plan to earn less than a bachelor’s degree, a slightly greater percentage of females than males indicated availability of college major as the most important factor in choosing a college.
Chart showing Percent of ACT-Tested High School Graduates Who Indicated Availability of College Major as Most Important Factor in Choosing a College by Degree Plans and Gender, 2013

Graph reads: 41% of females from the ACT-tested high school graduating class of 2013 who planned to earn less than a bachelor’s degree indicated that availability of college major was the most important factor in selecting a college.

Degree PlansFemaleMale
Less than Bachelor’s Degree41%39%
Bachelor’s Degree47%46%
Graduate Degree57%58%

Note: Based on 69% of the ACT-tested high school graduating class of 2013 who reported gender and degree plans, selected a planned major when they registered for the ACT, and ranked in order of importance at least 1 of the 7 college choice factors listed on the ACT registration form.


Percent of ACT-Tested High School Graduates Who Indicated Availability of College Major as Most Important Factor in Choosing a College by Certainty of Planned Major Choice and Gender, 2013

  • As certainty of planned major choice increases, the percentage of students who indicated availability of college major as the most important factor in choosing a college increases.
  • There was no appreciable gender gap by certainty of planned major choice. Female and male responses differed by one percentage point or less, in favor of females.
Chart showing Percent of ACT-Tested High School Graduates Who Indicated Availability of College Major as Most Important Factor in Choosing a College by Certainty of Planned Major Choice and Gender, 2013

Graph reads: 49% of males from the ACT-tested high school graduating class of 2013 who were fairly sure of their choice of major indicated that availability of college major was the most important factor in selecting a college.

Certainty of Planned Major ChoiceFemaleMale
Not Sure41%40%
Fairly Sure49%49%
Very Sure56%55%

Note: Based on 70% of the ACT-tested high school graduating class of 2013 who reported gender, selected a planned major when they registered for the ACT, indicated their level of certainty of their choice of planned major, and ranked in order of importance at least 1 of the 7 college choice factors listed on the ACT registration form.


Percent of ACT-Tested High School Graduates Who Indicated Availability of College Major as Most Important Factor in Choosing a College by Interest-Major Fit and Gender, 2013

  • As the level of fit between students’ planned major choices and their interests increases, so does the percentage of students who indicated availability of college major as the most important factor in choosing a college.
  • There was no appreciable gender gap by Interest-Major Fit in the share of students who indicated availability of college major as the most important factor. Female and male responses differed by one percentage point, in favor of females.
Chart showing Percent of ACT-Tested High School Graduates Who Indicated Availability of College Major as Most Important Factor in Choosing a College by Interest-Major Fit and Gender, 2013

Graph reads: 55% of females from the ACT-tested high school graduating class of 2013 who selected a major that is a good fit with their interests indicated that availability of college major was the most important factor in selecting a college.

Interest-Major FitFemaleMale
Poor47%46%
Moderate51%50%
Good55%54%

Note: Based on 64% of the ACT-tested high school graduating class of 2013 who reported gender, selected a planned major when they registered for the ACT, completed the ACT Interest Inventory, and ranked in order of importance at least 1 of the 7 college choice factors listed on the ACT registration form.


Percentage of ACT-Tested High School Graduates Who Indicated Availability of College Major as Most Important Factor in Choosing a College by Planned Major Area and Gender, 2013

  • Students who selected a planned major in the area of Engineering were most likely to indicate availability of college major as the most important factor in choosing a college.
  • Across most majors, a greater share of females than males indicated availability of college major as the most important factor in choosing a college.
  • The largest gender discrepancies in favor of females are in the areas of Agriculture and National Resources Conservation; and Repair, Production, and Construction.
  • The only majors showing gender discrepancies in favor of males are in the areas of Computer Sciences and Mathematics; and Philosophy, Religion, and Theology.
Chart showing Percentage of ACT-Tested High School Graduates Who Indicated Availability of College Major as Most Important Factor in Choosing a College by Planned Major Area and Gender, 2013

Graph reads: 40% of males from the ACT-tested high school graduating class of 2013 who selected a planned major in the area of Business indicated that availability of college major was the most important factor in selecting a college.

Planned MajorFemaleMale
Engineering63%58%
Ag. and Natural Resources Conservation59%49%
Architecture57%50%
Sciences: Biological and Physical57%57%
Health Sciences and Technologies55%53%
Arts: Visual and Performing54%53%
Repair, Production, and Construction54%44%
Engineering Technology and Drafting50%47%
English and Foreign Languages50%49%
Social Sciences and Law48%47%
Computer Science and Mathematics48%52%
Communications47%45%
Community, Family, and Personal Services45%44%
Education44%40%
Area, Ethnic, and Multidisciplinary Studies44%42%
Philosophy, Religion, and Theology44%49%
Health Administration and Assisting43%42%
Business42%40%

Note: Based on 70% of the ACT-tested high school graduating class of 2013 who reported gender, selected a planned major when they registered for the ACT, and ranked in order of importance at least 1 of the 7 college choice factors listed on the ACT registration form.