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Choice of college major and usefulness

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by lee_44106, Aug 28, 2006.

  1. Nantucket Red

    Nantucket Red Senior member

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    5 years of studying Japanese literature in the Ivy League: $100k of debt.

    Landing a plum job on a fluke because of my knowledge of classical Japanese: Priceless.
     
  2. otterhound

    otterhound Senior member

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    To take this thread on a different tack, why is it necessary to generate such huge debts? Why do people find it so critical to go to $30,000/year private schools when good state schools can provide a comparable education?

    The only convincing argument I've heard is that going to an elite private school gives you the opportunity to make elite contacts. But if you aren't the type to schmooze for contacts, why strap yourself with these unnecessary enormous debts?
     
  3. johnapril

    johnapril Senior member

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    keep in mind that not everyone's idea of a fulfilling life is a little house with a white picket fence and a golden retriever. For some people, learning and the pursuit of new knowledge is the ultimate goal.

    Stereotype.
     
  4. lee_44106

    lee_44106 Senior member

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    The intent of the original post was this:

    Assuming financial security is a priority for everybody, would it not make more sense to spend four years of one's young life in the pursuit of a subject/skill that will generate/guarantee said security?

    For people who have more "education" after a four year college, such as physicians, lawyers, MBA's..etc, I suppose any major is OK (including music theory and art history [​IMG] ) provided one is subsequently able to matriculate in a graduate school.

    That said, how good is the college diploma to those who don't further their education and end up subjects of headlines that report an increasingly difficult job markets for new college graduates?
     
  5. johnapril

    johnapril Senior member

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    Depends on what you do with your time in school. Depends on what you care about. Depends on a lot of things. So really this all goes back to a matter of perspective and preference, and there is no better or worse, in that regard. Just different.
     
  6. lee_44106

    lee_44106 Senior member

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    Depends on what you do with your time in school. Depends on what you care about. Depends on a lot of things. So really this all goes back to a matter of perspective and preference, and there is no better or worse, in that regard. Just different.

    Here's my perspective when my daughter near college age and ask that I help her with tuition,

    "Honey, make sure you study something, be good at it, and be self-sufficient after four years so you don't have to move back into the house with your mom and I" [​IMG]
     
  7. johnapril

    johnapril Senior member

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    Here's my perspective when my daughter near college age and ask that I help her with tuition,

    "Honey, make sure you study something, be good at it, and be self-sufficient after four years so you don't have to move back into the house with your mom and I" [​IMG]


    It might work but what if she is passionate about dance or theater? Are you going to stifle that because the cash return on the college major is low?
     
  8. lee_44106

    lee_44106 Senior member

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    Actually, if my daughter wants to be a dancer or theater, both my wife and I will be VERY happy. But again, I'd like her to be self sufficient (I'm eyeing her room already as a future closet for suits and shoes [​IMG] )

    I have a much different perspective when it comes to boys. I expect them to not just be self-sufficient but of enough means to raise a family.
     
  9. johnapril

    johnapril Senior member

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    Actually, if my daughter wants to be a dancer or theater, both my wife and I will be VERY happy. But again, I'd like her to be self sufficient (I'm eyeing her room already as a future closet for suits and shoes [​IMG] )

    I have a much different perspective when it comes to boys. I expect them to not just be self-sufficient but of enough means to raise a family.


    I suppose getting kids out of the nest post-college may work if it is reinforced as they are in college that that is the way it is going to go. No ifs ands or buts. That paired with sound financial advise (modeled off parental behavior) may be enough to get them out the door. I have a brother who still lives part time at my parents' house (he's a 26-year-old in the Marine reserve) because no one ever really helped him to understand his limits. I don't think he knows what limits are. So he walks over everyone.
     
  10. briancl

    briancl Senior member

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    I have a good friend who is a rather accomplished software developer. He wrote code and ultimately ended up running the software development efforts for some pretty major companies.

    He told me that one of the best software developers who ever worked for him was a music major. He believed that the guy's music background gave him a unique perspective on problem solving and software architecture that the technically educated code writers did not have.


    I've worked in IT for about 6 years now, and the people at the top generally do not come from traditional IT related Majors. Art and Music people who make the switch into IT always seem to do well. Plus, they can easily fit into the IT culture since they can't dress or write, either.
     
  11. briancl

    briancl Senior member

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    The intent of the original post was this:

    Assuming financial security is a priority for everybody, would it not make more sense to spend four years of one's young life in the pursuit of a subject/skill that will generate/guarantee said security?

    For people who have more "education" after a four year college, such as physicians, lawyers, MBA's..etc, I suppose any major is OK (including music theory and art history [​IMG] ) provided one is subsequently able to matriculate in a graduate school.

    That said, how good is the college diploma to those who don't further their education and end up subjects of headlines that report an increasingly difficult job markets for new college graduates?


    I think there are a lot of students, probably even the majority of students, who do not have any perspective on this topic. They go to school because that is what they are supposed to do. They pick a major because that is what they are supposed to do. They attend classes and do their work because that is what they are supposed to do.

    They don't really know why, they just do it.
     
  12. lee_44106

    lee_44106 Senior member

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    I think there are a lot of students, probably even the majority of students, who do not have any perspective on this topic. They go to school because that is what they are supposed to do. They pick a major because that is what they are supposed to do. They attend classes and do their work because that is what they are supposed to do.

    They don't really know why, they just do it.



    Seems like "going to college" is the thing to do, much like going to high school after junior high. Many students lose the perspective of WHY. My time is valuable. I didn't go to college to accumulate debt.
     
  13. briancl

    briancl Senior member

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    I have a much different perspective when it comes to boys. I expect them to not just be self-sufficient but of enough means to raise a family.
    This kind of thinking is a bit dated, no? *EDIT* Upon re-reading this I think this comes off wrong. What I'm trying to say is that I would have the same desires of my children, boy or girl. I would hope any daughter of mine would be equally as self-sufficient as any son.
    I suppose getting kids out of the nest post-college may work if it is reinforced as they are in college that that is the way it is going to go. No ifs ands or buts. That paired with sound financial advise (modeled off parental behavior) may be enough to get them out the door. I have a brother who still lives part time at my parents' house (he's a 26-year-old in the Marine reserve) because no one ever really helped him to understand his limits. I don't think he knows what limits are. So he walks over everyone.
    My parents downsized after I left for college. From a 3BDRM house to a 2BDRM apartment. My parents made it very clear to my sister and I... We couldn't move back home. Fortunately, I never wanted to or needed to, but my sister did move back, and they helped her find a place and a job, so she was out in 2 months. Also, upthread someone talked about choosing cheaper schools, and that's another thing that my parents got right. They didn't give me very much financial help for college, only 5k a year or so. With that in mind, I chose a good public school to get my education and my debt is managable.
     
  14. johnapril

    johnapril Senior member

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    This kind of thinking is a bit dated, no? *EDIT* Upon re-reading this I think this comes off wrong. What I'm trying to say is that I would have the same desires of my children, boy or girl. I would hope any daughter of mine would be equally as self-sufficient as any son.



    My parents downsized after I left for college. From a 3BDRM house to a 2BDRM apartment. My parents made it very clear to my sister and I... We couldn't move back home. Fortunately, I never wanted to or needed to, but my sister did move back, and they helped her find a place and a job, so she was out in 2 months.

    Also, upthread someone talked about choosing cheaper schools, and that's another thing that my parents got right. They didn't give me very much financial help for college, only 5k a year or so. With that in mind, I chose a good public school to get my education and my debt is managable.


    And with that understanding with your parents and those kind of values you probably studied hard and got something out of the experience.
     
  15. lee_44106

    lee_44106 Senior member

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  16. Bradford

    Bradford Senior member

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    He sadly passed away recently. I saw him only once - quite eye-opening for a seven year old.

    That's sad that Naked Guy has passed away. I always wondered if he went on to a job where he had to wear clothes or if he continued to be naked.

    MrPoloGuy - In my experience, the only way to get wealthy in politics is to become a consultant, not a politician.

    Finally, just wanted to mention that there are studies showing that music improves intellectual activity in other fields especially math and science, so it's not really surprising that many music majors go on to other academic pursuits like law, medical or business school.

    As an example, I have a friend from high school who looked like a stereotypical rock-and-roller, played in a speed-metal band throughout college, actually toured Europe and was apparently pretty popular in some Scandavian countries, came back to college, took the MCAT, had one of the highest scores in the country that year and went on to Yale Medical School where I understand he shook things up a bit, but is now a very well-respected doctor. So, it's not just classical music that does it either.
     
  17. aybojs

    aybojs Senior member

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    I think the worth of a specific choice a major is blown vastly out of proportion, and one of the reasons is a refusal to accept accountability for other life choices. Generally, if a person can't get a job, it's not because his degree is unmarketable, it is because he himself is unmarketable.

    The accessibility of a college education these days has made a lot of people lazy and complacent, assuming that their only obligations with school are to prep for a career rather than focus on gaining a well-rounded humanist education. I don't have any respect for vocational majors, because their choice of major tells me that they don't particularly care about becoming well-educated and are only out to do the bare minimum necessary to get into whatever career they are pursuing. It should be no surprise, then, that the complaint that today's college graduates are woefully lacking in basic reading, writing, and researching skills is so commonplace. I think employers have a similar view of certain academically-oriented majors, who may come across as wastrels pursuing idle study.

    The simple answer would be that any college student is now expected to pursue both a well-rounded education and practical career training during his school years. There's nothing preventing someone from pursuing an academic education through his schooling and using his off-hours and summer opportunities to figure out his career ambitions and try to immerse himself in that field and gain practical experience. Of course, that requires a lot more time and effort, and apparently that's too much for a lot of people.

    My point is that the people who have problems chose a flawed path themselves. The humanities majors who were productive out of class and made contacts and worked entry level positions to build experience aren't the ones struggling to find work; it's the ones who sat on their ass and expected their degree to carry them. And similarly, while the vocationally-oriented types may experience more short term success, their lack of a true educational base will come back to haunt them once they get past the menial entry and mid level positions that don't require any real intellectual skills.
     
  18. rdawson808

    rdawson808 Senior member

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    To take this thread on a different tack, why is it necessary to generate such huge debts? Why do people find it so critical to go to $30,000/year private schools when good state schools can provide a comparable education?

    The only convincing argument I've heard is that going to an elite private school gives you the opportunity to make elite contacts. But if you aren't the type to schmooze for contacts, why strap yourself with these unnecessary enormous debts?



    I can only base this on my experiences in academia, but I would say that having a certain name on your degree can be a HUGE advantage. All other things equal, if your degree says Harvard and mine says State U., many many people will automatically assume you are the better qualified candidate whether for a job or for more schooling.

    I have had many students, brilliant motivated students, not get into graduate programs and there is simply no explanation for it. And when my students go to NYC, DC, etc. to look for jobs and they have a hard time, I have to wonder why.

    When we hire, we look at what program you are from. It doesn't give you an immediate pass, but it can help. I was told by a friend in the dept at my (undergrad) alma mater that they "only hire from the top tier." Why? They want to improve their ranking.

    It is a horribly unfair way of judging a person, but there you are. You want inot a top-tier law school? Better get good grades AND go to a top-tier undergrad school. Want that great job on Wall Street? Better have good grades and have gone to a "better" school than your next competitor.

    I've met some real boobs from Ivy League schools who I don't trust to tie their shoes properly, much less do stellar work. And I know some brilliant people who went to "mediocre" schools.

    bob
     
  19. lawyerdad

    lawyerdad Senior member

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    That's sad that Naked Guy has passed away. I always wondered if he went on to a job where he had to wear clothes or if he continued to be naked.
    I wonder what he was buried in. And if it was an open casket service.
     
  20. lawyerdad

    lawyerdad Senior member

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    He sadly passed away recently. I saw him only once - quite eye-opening for a seven year old.
    You just made me feel really old . . .
     

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