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Math, Science Popular Until Students Realize They’re Hard - Real Time Economics - WSJ

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The researchers found that while math and science majors drew the most interest initially, not many students finished with degrees in those subjects. More students dropped out of math and science majors and fewer students switched into them than any other area of study, including professional programs, social sciences, humanities and business.

The survey results also showed that the students who dropped out didn’t do so because they discovered an unexpected amount of the work. In fact, students who expressed interest initially anticipated more work than other majors.

The students switched out because they were dissatisfied with their grades. “Students knew science was hard to begin with, but for a lot of them it turned out to be much worse than what they expected,” said Todd R. Stinebrickner, one of the paper’s authors. “What they didn’t expect is that even if they work hard, they still won’t do well.”

At Berea College, all students are required to take some basic math and science courses as part of the liberal arts curriculum. The researchers say that the reason not many students decided to switch into math or science majors is that they didn’t discover a particular talent for those areas of study.

“If more science graduates are desired, the findings suggest the importance of policies at younger ages that lead students to enter college better prepared to study science,” the researchers write in the paper.

Science and math reward being correct.

Being correct does not correlate with hard work.

Some people can work hard and still not be correct.

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