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Major Influence: Where Students Get Valued Advice on What to Study in College

Gallup and Strada Shed Light on Influencers of Education Decisions

The second report from the Education Consumer Pulse focuses on influential elements in how individuals choose their field of study. That is, who or what sources provide advice to students and how helpful that advice is perceived to be.

Respondents, including more than 22,000 U.S. adults, were asked to name up to three sources of advice about their major and rate their helpfulness. Responses were divided into four broad categories:

  1. formal: counselors and the media
  2. informal social network: friends, family and community leaders
  3. informal school-based: college staff and professors, high school teachers and coaches
  4. informal work-based: employers, coworkers, experienced professionals and the military.

The report details that the majority (55%) of U.S. adults with at least some college but no more than a bachelor's degree list their informal social network as providing advice about their college major. This is the most often-cited source of advice when choosing a major for the majority of U.S. adults.

One surprising implication of these findings is that the most commonly cited channels of advice in choosing a major are not necessarily rated the most helpful. Put simply, the most valued sources of advice are the least used.

Read this report to learn how to enhance traditional models of advice and support to help students make better-informed decisions about their field of study.

Additional Reports


2017 College Student Survey

A Nationally Representative Survey of Currently Enrolled Students


Why Higher Ed?

A Nationally Representative Survey of Currently Enrolled Students


On Second Thought: U.S. Adults Reflect on Their Education Decisions

Gallup-Strada Education Network Inaugural Report

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