University agricultural programs’ struggle to attract students is leading to a disparity in the number of available jobs in agriculture and the number of qualified applicants to fill these positions. This study sought to garner a unique students’ perspective of ways that universities and specifically agricultural programs can support and encourage them to commit to agricultural degree programs by understanding potential pre-university experiences that influence their decision to commit to agriculture long-term. We reported our findings based on 22 responses from students in two different U.S. universities who filled out the open-ended questionnaire. From the responses, we found that before entering university, students’ farming-related activities and participation in school-based agriculture related and research programs impacted their future commitment to agricultural degree programs. Moreover, scholarships, practical experience opportunities, and course-related actions at the university level also impacted students’ commitment to agricultural degree programs. We recommend continued research into students’ commitment to a career in agriculture. Additionally, expanding primary and secondary school agricultural education programs and K-12 students’ participation in 4-H and FFA programs may increase their exposure to agricultural experiences. Providing greater financial assistance and university support to students in agriculture programs may also positively impact students’ commitment to agriculture long-term.
Keywords: student commitment, agriculture, preuniversity, career selection