The effect of self-esteem, locus of control, and background factors on college students' choice of an academic major

Date of Completion

January 1994


Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Higher




This study was conducted in response to two questions: (a) do students in various academic majors differ with respect to self esteem (SE) and locus of control (LOC), after controlling for the effects of academic ability and other student inputs and (b) to what extent and in what manner are six blocks of variables--academic ability, other student inputs, LOC, SE, student involvement indicators, and college environment indicators--able to predict college students' choice of academic major?^ The research was conducted using a weighted sample of college sophomores from High School and Beyond, N = 43,614. ANCOVA procedures revealed significant differences among majors with respect to LOC, F(6, 43633) = 557.97, p $<$.05 and SE, F(6, 43633) = 144.40, p $<$.05. However practical significance was questioned.^ The results of a hierarchical DFA, patterned after Astin's (1993) model for assessment, suggest that the composite model, including all six blocks of variables, was the most effective predictor of choice of majors. At this step 86.7% of the cases were correctly classified accounting for 75% of the variance among majors. Implications for research and practice are discussed. ^