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Choice of college major and usefulness

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

  1. lawyerdad

    lawyerdad 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?

    double post deleted
     
  2. lawyerdad

    lawyerdad 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?

    And what people have pointed out is that your premise is problematic. If we assume you're Napolean, we can reason our way to many conclusions. Financial security is a priority for many people, but not everybody. And when you say it's "a" priority, that suggests that people may have other priorities as well. People balance and trade-off among their various priorities and values in different ways. And among people who put some value on financial security, other people's definition of "financial security" may be quite different from yours or mine.
    And for many people - especially those who don't view college primarily as a pure financial investment - it may be more about the experiences one has at college than about the diploma. I suspect many people, as they mature and find their life's path, find that being a confident, broad-minded, well-rounded person may serve them better in the pursuit of financial security than a history of being a grind who is always obviously trying to "climb the ladder".
     
  3. Kai

    Kai 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.


    I was a Chinese major myself. Have never regretted it.
     
  4. designprofessor

    designprofessor Senior member

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    In my art history class today, I had a student, probably mid 50's that is coming back to school to pursue what she was " really interested in", art and art history. Her first degree was in business. So in her financial security she can now pay the tuition to pursue what she wanted to all along...great, but she'll not get all that time back.
     
  5. lee_44106

    lee_44106 Senior member

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    Lawyerdad, I AGREE with you wholeheartedly that colleges, as institutions of higher learnings, ought to be places where an interested person can gain knowledge in various fields, thus becoming a well-rounded gentleman/lady. My contention, or should I say personal preference, is that valuable youth and its attendant ability to take more stress...etc should be devoted to financial security SO that in the future, one may indulge in the pursuit of other knowledge, as Designprofessor posted about one of his students.

    For instances, I love cooking, but I'm not a chef by profession. I recently found out that taking classes at most culinary institutes cost somewhere in the mid-thousands. I also love the study of history, and classes even at local community colleges are not cheap. I have always had a desire to learn piano too, and I gather it ain't cheap either, between the tuition and actually buying a piano. Thank goodness my current profession will allow me to do all these, as I slowly built financial security. And yes, I was one of those "grinds" in college.
     
  6. drizzt3117

    drizzt3117 Senior member

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    First of all, regarding the degrees that people get, in the fields that I've been involved in (IT, health care, management, finance) it hasn't been important. I've met a number of CEOs that were English or History majors during undergrad. Acceptance to business school is less dependent on your major and more dependent on your work experience and demeanor in essays/interviews, and to a lesser extent on your GMAT score.

    As far as the school in question, I would agree wholeheartedly that the school that you attend for a professional school will be important, but your undergrad alma mater will be quite a bit less so, IME. I've hired hundreds of people during my tenure as a manager and I pay only the slightest attention to their undergrad institution. Work experience and their interview performance is much more important, as well as their professional school if they are a MBA/MD.
     
  7. redcaimen

    redcaimen Senior member

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    I was a Chinese major myself. Have never regretted it.
    \t
    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    Kuomintang or red army?
     
  8. Histrion

    Histrion Senior member

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    I find this situation a bit amusing because I am in an opposite situation, yet totally mixed up about what to do next. As a matter of fact, I don't have a damn clue.

    In QuÃ[​IMG]bec you can go study law right after CÃ[​IMG]gep (two years of pre-universitary studies, after high school) so that's the path I've chosen. I find myself with comfortable grades (3.27 GPA) that would allow me to get a position in a top-tier (maybe top 5 if I get just a bit lucky) law firm of MontrÃ[​IMG]al, granted I have good interviews.

    Now, I don't know if I want to be a lawyer. I am considering taking another universitary cursus, that time in humanities, after law. I'd pretty much go back to doing what I was doing in CÃ[​IMG]gep, but with more challenge. I'd like a cursus with a good share of classical studies and political philosophy. But then, there's trouble: by doing so, I would get into debt. And it is very unsure that this would lead me to any well-paying job.

    I have some interests that could lead me to academia, but I don't particularly like that kind of career path. In fact, I would like to be run a business of my own later on, but I don't feel like going to business school. Perhaps I am totally wrong, but I feel that there is a lot more to do with critical thinking, being interesting and having ideas than mathematics in running a business.


    If anybody has an idea of an universitary cursus like the one I am seeking, in which I could get in with my grades (though its studying law... I'd bet it'd be much higher if I was studying humanities, but you can't change these things heh), I'd like to know about it.
     
  9. cchen

    cchen Senior member

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    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.

    Sad, but true.
    Not so true. The top firms want to recruit at the best schools because the whole application process to get into those schools was already a sort of weeding out process to get rid of those undesirable candidates. Of course, there are people who are not in the top schools but are very well qualified for these jobs.

    Actually, you just need a really good LSAT score.

    And your point is what? Because at every school, whether its podunk university or harvard, you will find both extremely smart and talented students as well as those not so smart.
     
  10. whoopee

    whoopee Senior member

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    At the top tier/Ivy League schools the chances of finding brilliant people are much higher than at podunk.
     
  11. cchen

    cchen Senior member

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    At the top tier/Ivy League schools the chances of finding brilliant people are much higher than at podunk.

    I don't deny that. I'm just saying that you'll find idiots at every school.
     
  12. LabelKing

    LabelKing Senior member

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    I don't deny that. I'm just saying that you'll find idiots at every school.
    I think Yale may be a distinct candidate.
     
  13. Nantucket Red

    Nantucket Red Senior member

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    I think Yale may be a distinct canidate.

    Case in point: George W. Bush
     
  14. rdawson808

    rdawson808 Senior member

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    Re: only hiring from top-tier programs.

    Not so true. The top firms want to recruit at the best schools because the whole application process to get into those schools was already a sort of weeding out process to get rid of those undesirable candidates. Of course, there are people who are not in the top schools but are very well qualified for these jobs.


    I was talking about academia specifically. Departments (at least in my field) don't hide that they have standards below which they will not go when it comes to what program you're coming from. My undergrad alma mater is sort of top of the pile tier 3. In conversation one day I was told outright "we won't hire from below tier 2 and would prefer tier 1 so that we can move up." Even where I teach (undergrad only) we seek to hire from the most prestigious unis. Harvard and Phi Beta Kappa? Great. Harvard but no PBK? Great. State U and PBK? Great. State U and not PBK? Not nearly as good. Why? So we can improve our rankings. I can't speak about the private sector.


    re: grades from a mediocre school not getting you into law school.

    Actually, you just need a really good LSAT score.

    In this case I was speaking from personal experience. Good LSAT, okay grades, just "okay" undergrad school. The chair of the admissions committee at this top-tier law program told me I wouldn't stand much chance of getting in because my grades weren't offset by being from a better school. So, all other things equal, having gone to a "better" undergrad institution would have helped me get in.


    re: I know boobs from Ivy League schools.

    And your point is what? Because at every school, whether its podunk university or harvard, you will find both extremely smart and talented students as well as those not so smart.

    That was my point exactly. Just because the school on the degree is "Big Time High Profile Ivy Covered School" doens't guarantee the candidate is better than the candidate with "Podunk State U." on their diploma.

    bob
     
  15. briancl

    briancl Senior member

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    All this talk of Ivy league schools is really missing the point. There are many private schools that cost just as much, or almost as much as Ivy, that do not give these same opportunities after graduation. That is what I find to be puzzling.

    Sure Ivy schools are expensive; however, there are distinct benefits. What about the schools that are expensive without the benefits? Why go?
     
  16. rdawson808

    rdawson808 Senior member

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    All this talk of Ivy league schools is really missing the point. There are many private schools that cost just as much, or almost as much as Ivy, that do not give these same opportunities after graduation. That is what I find to be puzzling.

    Sure Ivy schools are expensive; however, there are distinct benefits. What about the schools that are expensive without the benefits? Why go?


    One possible reason:

    You want to go to a small (500-2500 students) school for the higher degree of personalized attention. There are few state schools this small but many many private schools. Private schools cost more than public schools (to a great degree).

    bob
     
  17. lawyerdad

    lawyerdad Senior member

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    All this talk of Ivy league schools is really missing the point. There are many private schools that cost just as much, or almost as much as Ivy, that do not give these same opportunities after graduation. That is what I find to be puzzling.

    Sure Ivy schools are expensive; however, there are distinct benefits. What about the schools that are expensive without the benefits? Why go?

    What "benefits" you get depends on what you're looking for. People go to colleges for a variety of reasons and choose their schools based on a variety of factors. Also, not everyone gets accepted to their "first choice".
     
  18. Kai

    Kai Senior member

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    I was a Chinese major myself. Have never regretted it.
    \t
    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    Kuomintang or red army?



    Tang dynasty Imperial Guard.
     
  19. redcaimen

    redcaimen Senior member

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    Tang dynasty Imperial Guard.
    --------------------------------------------------

    A bit long in the dragons tooth, aren't we?
     
  20. Concordia

    Concordia Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Speaking as someone who did a history major at a well-regarded small liberal arts college:

    A humanities education is a great investment in quality of life, if you value the life of the mind. Also, given that many of the highest-compensated careers these days require the abilities that are best honed in a liberal arts setting, it can be a great long-term financial investment as well. Better, perhaps, than a more vocationally-oriented major, once you couple it with a professional degree.

    The catch is that it is a long-term investment. When I was looking for work after school-- and I had no help from anyone at my college-- friends of my parents were most encouraging. They loved my background in history and music, thought it was totally relevant to investments, etc. That what I heard from the top of the company. When I went to interview at HR, the 28-year-old handling my resume made it very clear that an accounting degree from Northeastern or Bentley would make them look less stupid recommending me for anything within their area of responsibility. Eventually I did enough to pay my dues and went back for a Master's degree. I did fine with that and got the job I wanted.

    Possibly relevant factoid: when I took first-semester finance at my MBA program, the professor said to all those who were thinking about passing out of the course that in virtually every case an undergraduate finance major would be of no help in passing the exam, and that only one undergrad finance program was worth a damn (Wharton's). Given that, is there any real reason to grind away at a second-rate finance program when you'll have to do it all over again later on?

    Second point, to catch up on an earlier discussion: there are a lot of musical doctors. For a while, I was on the board of a group that facilitates playing of chamber music by good amateurs. There were a lot of MDs in that group. Yo-Yo Ma's sister (a doctor) is an excellent violinist. There is an orchestra in Boston that is almost completely staffed by doctors. Albert Schweitzer...
     

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