Ask young children what they want to be when they grow up and the answer will change three times before dinner. Ask them when they are 18 and the answer is unlikely to be any more decisive. Eighty percent of college-bound students have yet to choose a major, according to Dr. Fritz Grupe, founder of MyMajors.com . But they are still expected to pick schools, apply to and start degree programs without knowing where they want to end up. It is little wonder 50 percent of those who do declare a major, change majors — with many doing so two and three times during their college years, according to Grupe. While it is difficult enough watching children struggle to find their life’s path, it can also be costly. With tuition averaging $13,833 a year at public universities, indecisiveness can drain college savings accounts as students restart course sequences or transfer schools — losing credits in the process. Ultimately they risk extending their college days beyond the four years parents planned to finance. According to the College Board, five- and six-year students are not uncommon. Roughly 40 percent of those who start a four-year degree program still have not earned one after year six. And while the graduation rates are better at private schools where higher tuitions provide incentive not to linger, long-termers can still be found. Such extended stays are not new, and the overall numbers have been consistent over the last few years, but some universities are concerned. The longer students take to graduate, the fewer the slots there are for new students coming in.
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