Phi Beta Cons

Grade Inflation Lures Students into Weak Majors

In this post, Macalester College economics professor Timothy Taylor surveys recent evidence on grade inflation and its effect on student choices.

His conclusion is that quite a few students choose to major in fields where the grading is easy (and the work is not very demanding) as opposed to majoring in fields where grades tend to be low and the work load is pretty heavy. That isn’t too surprising.

I wonder what the results would be if we could survey college freshman, asking, “Would you rather take a difficult major requiring 30 hours of work per week and where you’ll get low grades if you don’t master the material, but will have a fairly high chance of finding a job that pays well, or take an easy major where you could get by with 10 hours of work per week and will get all As and Bs, but will have a low chance of finding a job that pays well?” I suspect that we’d get a strong majority choosing the latter. Young Americans tend to be very present-oriented.

George Leef — George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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