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Study: Almost Two in Five College Grads Regret Their Major

Study: Almost Two in Five College Grads Regret Their Major

College is the time where you become the person you are going to be, as the wisdom goes. But what if you become something you don’t want to be? That’s part of the reality facing nearly two in five college grads in America, who say they regret their college major.

That’s according to a Federal Reserve survey, which found that a lot of Americans wish they’d studied something different in college. The people with the most regrets are those arts and humanities majors, nearly half of whom said they wished they’d picked something different. Those in STEM subjects were the least likely to have any regrets about what they studied, with just 24 percent of engineers in particular saying they had second thoughts about their college major.

The big correlation is — surprise, surprise — income. The more money you make, the less likely you are to view your college major as a mistake. But things like race, gender and even school selection don’t seem to play that big of a factor.

That number has been ticking steadily upwards since 2016, when the Federal Reserve started consistently collecting data. The Washington Post notes that the biggest shift has been in people who got an education degree. In 2016, people with an education major were less likely than average to regret their degree. In 2021, they had shifted to being more likely than average.

But the big warning sign here is for the humanities, where the decline has no end in sight. “There’s a pretty significant change underway,” historian and digital humanist Ben Schmidt told the Washington Post. “The numbers have dropped by 50 percent, and there’s no sign that they’re going to rebound.”

What’s in store for a culture in which the devaluation of arts of humanities is dropping at a breakneck pace? Stay tuned. We’ll find out soon enough.

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