The Art of Declaring a Major

Sticking to a Plan: Who Is Likely to Declare a Major That Is Consistent with Their Intentions?

A student’s intended major is one of the more important pieces of information that he or she provides when registering for the ACT. However, only 55% of ACT-tested students declare a major in college that is consistent with the intended major area that they indicated at the time of ACT registration.

Results of ACT research show that a student’s intended major area is a more reliable indicator of his or her declared major when the student:

  • Expresses greater certainty about his or her intended major
  • Plans on majoring in an area that is well-aligned with his or her measured interests
  • Plans on majoring in an area that is better aligned with his or her level of academic preparation

At the time students register for the ACT, they can select an intended major and indicate a level of certainty in that choice: “Very Sure,” Fairly Sure,” and “Not Sure.” Students who are very sure of their intended major choice are 25% more likely to declare a similar major than students who report they are not sure.

Interest-major fit scores measure the similarity between a student’s interest score profile and that of successful college students in that major. The results of ACT studies show that if students’ choose a major that is well-aligned with their interests as measured by the ACT Interest Inventory, they will be more likely to:

  • Remain in their major
  • Persist in college
  • Complete a college degree in a timely manner

We also looked at the fit between achievement and intended major. Results of the study indicate that students who are either underprepared or overprepared academically are less likely to declare a major in the same area as they had originally intended.

Read the full story in the 2018 Higher Education Research Digest.