Information Brief 2012-50

Interest-Major Fit

by ACT College Readiness Benchmark Attainment and Parents’ Level of Education

A student’s chances of persisting in college and completing a degree in a timely manner increase when they choose a major that more closely matches their interests.1 The data presented below show that students who meet ACT’s College Readiness Benchmarks are more likely to choose a major that fits well with their interests. On average, interest-major fit also increases slightly with parents’ education level.

Interest-Major Fit by ACT College Readiness Attainment and Parents’ Level of Education

 
3 or 4 Benchmarks Met
Highest Parent Education LevelGood FitModerate FitPoor Fit
Bachelor or higher43%32%26%
Some college, AA or less41%32%28%
No college40%31%29%
1 or 2 Benchmarks Met
Highest Parent Education LevelGood FitModerate FitPoor Fit
Bachelor or higher37%32%31%
Some college, AA or less35%32%33%
No college34%31%34%
No Benchmarks Met
Highest Parent Education LevelGood FitModerate FitPoor Fit
Bachelor or higher30%32%38%
Some college, AA or less30%31%40%
No college28%31%42%

Note: Based on data from the ACT-tested graduating class of 2012. Interest-major fit is derived from data collected during ACT registration, including ACT Interest Inventory scores and intended college major. The parent education measure is the maximum of mother’s and father’s education level. Bars may not sum to 100% due to rounding.

1Allen, J., Robbins, S. (2010). Effects of interest-major congruence, motivation, and academic performance on timely degree attainment. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 57(1): 23-35.

2ACT (2012). Enrollment Management Trends Report, 2012. Iowa City: Author.


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