Federal Reserve Board Report: The College Majors They Wish They Hadn’t Chosen!

Dear Commons Community,

The Chronicle of Higher Education had a brief article on a new report from the Federal Reserve Board, released last Monday.  The report, “Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2021,” details the findings of a survey that was conducted in October and November of 2021. Among the education issues respondents were asked about were online education, the value of college, and student debt.

An executive summary of education-related results was as follows:

At the time of the survey, most parents of primary or secondary school students reported that their children were attending classes completely in person. Most parents also said that their child was doing better academically compared with a year earlier. In contrast to the experience of K–12 students, online education remained prevalent at higher education institutions in the fall of 2021.

  • Ninety-three percent of parents with a child in public or private school said their youngest child
    who was enrolled in K–12 education was attending classes completely in person, compared
    with 27 percent attending completely in person in 2020.
  • Fifty-six percent of parents with a child in public or private school said that their child’s aca-
    demic performance improved in 2021, compared with 7 percent who said it declined.
  • Seventy-six percent of higher education students in 2021 said they prefer online or hybrid education, given the situation with the pandemic
  • 67 percent of adults with some college or a technical degree said they would have liked to complete more education.
  • About 37 percent of people who had some college or a technical degree said they would have attended a different institution.

Student Loans
The share of student loan borrowers who were behind on their payments in the fall of 2021 declined relative to before the pandemic. These borrowers also saw increases in their financial well-being compared with prior years.

  • Twelve percent of borrowers were behind on their payments in 2021, a significant decline from
    the 17 percent who were behind in the fall of 2019
  • Seventy-three percent of those who went to college and have student loans for their own educa-
    tion were doing at least okay financially in 2021, up from 65 percent before the pandemic

One of the more interesting responses was to a question asking adults who had completed at least some college whether they would have chosen a different major (see  chart above).  Overall, 38% would have majored in another area. Nearly half (48%) who had studied the arts and humanities said they would now major in something else.

The entire report has some interesting findings!



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