Hard and Easy Majors

Here is a short report from CBS Money Watch about the 5 “hardest” and 5 “easiest” college majors compared by their respective average GPA’s (it’s about 2 years old).

My favorite line:

A new study from Wake Forest University suggests that a huge reason why so many students abandon their pursuit of science and engineering majors is this: Their professors are grading too hard.

Take GPA averages with a grain of salt; they aren’t de facto standards of academic rigor, but they can be decent indicators. If students feel better about having A’s on their transcripts than going through a rigorous program with some B’s or C’s, then the incentives are there to transfer to easier majors. Many times, Math and Engineering majors switch to Business majors after having a hard time in some intermediate classes (I’ve witnessed this several times at UCF).

America is already suffering from a lack of STEM majors, especially engineering majors, so it can be hard to come to a nice solution to the problem:

It seems to me that the best way to produce more scientists and engineers might be to get the professors in those fields to lighten up on their grades. Do the students, who are brave enough to wrestle with organic chemistry and multivariable calculus, need to be crushed at exam time?

Where is the balance between holding high academic standards and avoiding losing all the students due to discouragement? That balance is hard to find most of the time, but in my experience students benefit from professors who hold them to high, stringent academic standards. Studying under professors who expect a lot challenges and stretches your mind and ability. The class I got the most out of was the hardest class I’ve taken so far. I also got out with a B-.

It is good to see Economics on the “hardest” list. Learning some good economics will benefit you well in the future. Put in the time now to reap great rewards later.





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