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Call for Improved Advising to Minimize Switches in College Majors

With nearly half of all college sophomores majoring in something different than they planned in high school, a new ACT report calls for better advising to match students interests and skills.

According to a new report by ACT Inc. on persistence and transfer trends, about 55 percent of students who picked a major that was a good fit with their interests stayed in that field of study, compared to 41 percent who chose an area that was a poor fit. While about four in 10 choose a major that was a good fit with their interests, three in 10 selected one that was a poor fit, the ACT study found. 

Switching majors can be costly, and the research released by the Iowa City, Iowa-based testing company May 20 found low-achieving students were more likely to change their paths of study than students with higher achievement levels.

When recruiting students, the report recommends colleges look at students' planned major, test scores, and expressed interests to better identify students' strengths and encourage pursuit of certain majors.

ACT suggests college-admissions personnel inform students about career counseling and internship opportunities, using the ACT Interest-Major Fit scores to flag students who could benefit from additional academic advising.

The report also recommends different approaches to advising for students based on their academic achievement and suggests the ACT Interest Inventory as one tool used to help undecided students find career options.

Helping students explore their career interests early is one strategy to help improve persistence and college completion. Research has found students are more likely to stay in school if they have a clear focus and plan of study upon entering college. The national spotlight has been focused on the need to improve school counseling to help more disadvantaged students get to and through college, as many schools are stretched with an average of 471 students for every school counselor.

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