Jay Mathews of the WaPo, thoughtful as always, writes about a new study:
Using a sample of 62,218 first-time community college students in Washington state, researchers Davis Jenkins and Madeline Joy Weiss noted that students from low socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds, on average less likely to graduate, were also “less likely than higher SES students to enter a concentration, which we define as taking and passing at least three courses in a single field of study.”
They were slowed by remedial courses, but even when they had a chance to pick majors, they weren’t quick and often did not see what choices would help them get jobs. The only majors with good career prospects that low-income students chose in large numbers were in nursing and other health fields.
Here's a crazy idea. What if we required every senior -- perhaps during those few days after their Advanced Placement tests and finals, when they've already chosen their college, before prom though -- to choose a college major. They'd read a book like the one pictured as a cohort; then research online...
...And then have to pass an oral exam about the major at their college. The exam would be: what courses do you need to pass your major, what year would you typically take those courses, walk me through the syllabi of 3 of those courses, who is head of the department, where is the building, why that major, bring in ONE reading from one of those courses (even a short article) and explain it to me, etc. Perhaps we'd get a parent to show up for the exam: seems like it could create healthy conversation.
Who cares if they change majors on Day 1 of college. Great. The point would be to create a default. It may be that if we generate 15 hours of thinking and research ahead of time.