Earnings Data and Major Choice Survey

Post-Graduate Earnings, Job Security, and Major Choice Survey

Given concerns about student debt and graduates’ ability to transition into the workforce, policymakers are promoting initiatives to provide information to improve student decision making. Among these initiatives some seek to provide students with data on post-graduation earnings and employment outcomes associated with college majors, including the College Scorecard promoted by the Obama administration and several foundation funded projects. Despite these efforts, we know very little about how students use and interpret these outcomes data, particularly students from low-socioeconomic backgrounds. Students from less privileged socioeconomic backgrounds have not historically had the same information to navigate college and career selection as their more advantaged peers. These students may especially benefit from institutionally provided supports and resources such as information on labor market outcomes, and it may be particularly influential in their decision-making. 

If a goal is to provide students with data that improves the educational decisions of students from all socioeconomic backgrounds, then an essential first step is to identify differences in how the use and interpretation of this data varies by socioeconomic status. Consistent with this goal, this project examines the following overarching research question: To what extent does earnings information influence students’ earnings expectations and major choice among students? To what extent does this vary by socioeconomic background?

This project is being conducted in collaboration with the Rutgers Office of Institutional Research and Academic Planning. The project includes an online survey of undergraduate students enrolled at Rutgers’ three main campuses. The survey presents respondents different post-graduate earnings information and examines the influence of this information on major choice and expected earnings.

Rutgers circular logo. Rutgers horizontal logo.

This project is supported by the Russell Sage Foundation


Labor Market Expectations and Major Choice for Low-Income, First-Generation College Students: Evidence from an Information Experiment

Job Security and the Informed Major Choice of U.S. University Students

Adjusting Expectations: The Impact of Labor Market Information on How Undergraduates View Majors and Careers


Presentation 11/10/16

Presentation 11/18/16