Teachers College, Columbia University

Unintended Consequences? Early Program Planning, Major Selection, and Major-Switching Among Community College Students

Date and Time: March 17, 2018 8:30–10:00 AM
Location: Portland, OR
Venue: Hilton Portland & Executive Towers | Broadway 1

Drawing on administrative data tracking nearly 40,000 community college students over six years in a single state that requires major selection at the time of college entry, this presentation answered the following questions:

  1. What is the incidence of major-switching among community college students in a state system requiring program declaration at matriculation?
  2. What is the relationship between initial major choice, major-switching, and exit outcomes?
  3. To what extent, if any, does the timing of major-switching matter?

The presentation utilized insights from behavioral economics to discuss how differential academic and career intents may explain the results of this study and concluded with implications and recommendations for institutions. This research is especially relevant as researchers, policymakers, and practitioners become increasingly interested in career guidance initiatives within the guided pathways framework.


Senior Research Associate
Community College Research Center

Associated Project(s)