What drives the personal decision by students to choose a particular major? Probably a lot of factors are involved, including family background, early academic interest, and media reports about what's hot and what's not.
Perhaps certain personality types gravitate toward certain fields. That's the indication in a new study, as reported by Olga Khazan, in The Atlantic.
Arts and humanities majors, the study found, were more anxious, but not very organized. They were also less conscientious than students in fields like science, law, or engineering. They tended to score higher on neuroticism. But, hey, it's not all bad. Please see the article for the good stuff.
We probably don't want to take such information very seriously, but you have to admit there is a germ of truth to the idea that certain types of individuals gravitate toward particular fields of study. If you see a student with spiked purple hair, nose rings, and neck tattoos, you're thinking, hmmm…business major! No, probably not.
Many years ago, after the Soviets launched Sputnik, there was a nationwide push to get more students to study science. But this laudatory goal also engendered a considerable number of unhappy people—individuals who just weren't suited for science. We see this phenomenon today, with policy makers and commentators attempting to discourage students from majoring in the liberal arts, fine arts, and humanities. In fact, Texas colleges that produce more STEM graduates are rewarded financially.
This is okay up to a point, but individuals should choose their own destiny, along with any economic consequences. Careers will likely come and go during a long life, and academic foundations are useful in ways we can't imagine when we are young.