The interest-major congruence and college success relation: A longitudinal study

Terence Tracey, Steven B. Robbins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

124 Scopus citations


The relation of interest-major congruence to indicators of college success was examined in an initial sample of 80, 574 individuals enrolled in 87 colleges. Both college achievement (GPA after 1 year, after 2 years and at graduation) as well as persistence (enrollment status after 1 year, after 2 years and graduation after 5 years) were used as criteria of college success. Two different representations of interest-major congruence were examined: Euclidean distance and angular agreement. The incremental validity of these two congruence indices above that of standardized academic skills tests (i.e., ACT scores) was examined for each of the six criteria using mixed level modeling so that institutional differences could be examined. Results indicated that both types of congruence were predictors of each of the GPA criteria regardless of institutional differences. However for the enrollment criteria, the overall level of interest scores was found to moderate the congruence-enrollment relation. Congruence for individuals with low overall interest level but not for individuals with high overall interest levels was predictive of persistence. Findings point to the importance of interest-major congruence in the college outcome process, but also highlight the complexity of the congruence-outcome relation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-89
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Vocational Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 1 2006


  • College success
  • Interest-occupation congruence
  • Person-environment fit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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