This article by Karen Farkas originally appeared on cleveland.com.
CLEVELAND, Ohio – Half of college graduates regret their choice of school or major, according to a national survey.
About 50 percent of nearly 122,500 people who earned a bachelor’s degree and responded to a survey said they would change one big decision, according to the report released Thursday by Gallup and Strada Education Network, a nonprofit organization.
Of the graduates who would have chosen differently, 36 percent said they wish they had chosen a different major.
“On Second Thought: U.S. Adults Reflect on Their Education Decisions,” is the first-ever daily survey of U.S. adults asking about their experiences in postsecondary education, the organizations said in a statement.
The report is the first of a three-year series that will explore individuals’ perceptions of their education paths, Strada and Gallup said.
The first focuses on three key questions asked of adults who previously enrolled in or completed post-secondary education or training.
- Would they pursue the same level of education?
- Would they pursue the same area of study?
- Would they attend the same institution?
Among the findings:
- Thirty-six percent would choose a different major, 28 percent would attend a different institution, and 12 percent would pursue a different degree type.
- Those with some college but no degree are the most likely to say they would change at least one of these education decisions.
- Individuals who complete a vocational, trade or technical program are more positive about their education decisions than are individuals with an associate or bachelor’s degree. Those with postgraduate work or a degree are the least likely to say they would make different education decisions.
- Given the opportunity to make changes, adults are most likely to select a different major. This is particularly true of students with some college but no degree and those who complete a bachelor’s degree: Two-fifths of these students would choose a different major.
- Bachelor’s degree holders who completed their education later in life — those aged 30 or older at the time of graduation — are more positive about their education choices than those who completed at a younger age.
- STEM graduates at all education levels are the least likely to report they would pursue a different field of study.
The report said people’s regrets are driven by many factors.
“Rather, individuals’ desires to change their education decisions may be a function of having made decisions without comprehensive information, such as an understanding of employment opportunities, earning potential or the implications of long-term student debt,” said the report. “In short, education consumers’ regret about their previous decisions could be read as a signal to improve the resources available to inform future education decisions.”
The amount of student debt also affects how people feel about their education. Those with high debt said they would make different decisions.
About 80 percent of those who received a credential or degree said they received a high-quality education, the report said. About 70 percent of respondents who attended but did not complete college were pleased with their education.
The three-year survey is designed to generate insights from more than 360,000 current, past and prospective education consumers, ranging from those who have not completed high school to those with postgraduate degrees.
The sample will eventually represent the largest collection of education consumer insights in the nation, the report said.
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