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  1. #31
    i love skylights's Avatar
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    Based on my experience (detailed below), I offer this advice:

    - Develop an awareness of how much schooling you are ready to take on moving forward. If you love school, and don't feel the push to be done with it soon, then doing a major in a field that will require further degrees to have a career is fine. If you want to get out into the real world soon after college, tailor your degree to be more practical.

    - Choose a major based on a compromise of what interests you and what actually exists in the real world. You could also tack on a more realistic minor, or vice-versa. You can also augment with volunteering, interning, research, and part-term jobs. College is an extraordinary place - nowhere is opportunity so concentrated! However, it also is expensive and easy to use it as a giant playground instead of a launching pad.

    I really think the idea of a "gap year" (or two!) is wise, and wish I had taken one myself. Actually having to function in the real world gives you a far better perspective on why college is useful and how to use it. It also gives you perspective on learning to tailor your idealistic dreams to the real world job market so that you can realistically attain a life you want to live.

    My personal biggest problem with college was that I put all my eggs in the basket of the advice to just wait and that my calling/passion would come to me if I tried enough different things. I am a natural dabbler and this advice made me so happy - I took and enjoyed everything from ancient Chinese lit to the physics of music to yoga. But I never did find my calling. I ended up majoring in Psych for superficial reasons, which is a pet interest but not a calling, and not a very practical one at that. What has saved my ass in the real world has been my volunteering, interning, and on-campus job experience.

    As for the list of "best majors"... If they are up your interest alley, then by all means, go for it. But it's just as big of a waste get a practical degree in something you dislike. If you love English, get your degree in that and also get a teaching licensure. Or major in English and minor in Accounting. Or major in English and do a summer internship at the Library of Congress and work in your school's historical archives collection. Or major in English and do Pre-Law. Whatever you do... tie the string between your dreams and the real world. Don't let either end come undone.

  2. #32
    Glamour puss with a tan Raffaella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hard View Post
    I have my B.S. in chemistry, and am working on a PhD in organic chemistry currently. The sad truth of the matter is, a B.S. in chemistry is becoming more and more useless over time, and a MS or PhD is almost a requirement now adays.
    I'm curious, what can you possibly do with a B.S in any science where you live 'cause all I can do with my B.S in biochemistry is work as a laboratory technician and it pays terribly and lacks job security. IMHO, they've always been pretty useless without postgraduate study.
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  3. #33
    I could do things Hard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deceptive View Post
    I'm curious, what can you possibly do with a B.S in any science where you live 'cause all I can do with my B.S in biochemistry is work as a laboratory technician and it pays terribly and lacks job security. IMHO, they've always been pretty useless without postgraduate study.
    Same essentially. There isn't much difference between chemistry and biochemistry B.S. degrees in regards to the work you can get. Only difference is the type of lab work and labs you get into are.
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  4. #34
    girl with a pretty smile Honor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skylights View Post
    Based on my experience (detailed below), I offer this advice:

    - Develop an awareness of how much schooling you are ready to take on moving forward. If you love school, and don't feel the push to be done with it soon, then doing a major in a field that will require further degrees to have a career is fine. If you want to get out into the real world soon after college, tailor your degree to be more practical.

    - Choose a major based on a compromise of what interests you and what actually exists in the real world. You could also tack on a more realistic minor, or vice-versa. You can also augment with volunteering, interning, research, and part-term jobs. College is an extraordinary place - nowhere is opportunity so concentrated! However, it also is expensive and easy to use it as a giant playground instead of a launching pad.

    I really think the idea of a "gap year" (or two!) is wise, and wish I had taken one myself. Actually having to function in the real world gives you a far better perspective on why college is useful and how to use it. It also gives you perspective on learning to tailor your idealistic dreams to the real world job market so that you can realistically attain a life you want to live.

    My personal biggest problem with college was that I put all my eggs in the basket of the advice to just wait and that my calling/passion would come to me if I tried enough different things. I am a natural dabbler and this advice made me so happy - I took and enjoyed everything from ancient Chinese lit to the physics of music to yoga. But I never did find my calling. I ended up majoring in Psych for superficial reasons, which is a pet interest but not a calling, and not a very practical one at that. What has saved my ass in the real world has been my volunteering, interning, and on-campus job experience.

    As for the list of "best majors"... If they are up your interest alley, then by all means, go for it. But it's just as big of a waste get a practical degree in something you dislike. If you love English, get your degree in that and also get a teaching licensure. Or major in English and minor in Accounting. Or major in English and do a summer internship at the Library of Congress and work in your school's historical archives collection. Or major in English and do Pre-Law. Whatever you do... tie the string between your dreams and the real world. Don't let either end come undone.
    This is really great advice.

    I completely and 100% agree with skylights about the value of doing 1-2 gap years after high school. It took me that long after college to figure out that the only thing I really want to do in life is to become a doctor. Then again, honestly, there's so much personal development and growth happening between the ages of 18 and 25 that I'm not really sure I could have figured it out any sooner.

    In most fields, it's not such a bad thing at all. Of course, if you want to do anything in medicine, it's best to figure that out early because the training is soooooo long. If you want to have babies or be in a good position financially, then...yeah it's tough to make that all work.

  5. #35
    Emperor/Dictator kyuuei's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skylights View Post
    If you love English, get your degree in that and also get a teaching licensure. Or major in English and minor in Accounting. Or major in English and do a summer internship at the Library of Congress and work in your school's historical archives collection. Or major in English and do Pre-Law. Whatever you do... tie the string between your dreams and the real world. Don't let either end come undone.
    Yeah this is about how I feel exactly. Especially with student loan reform laws, getting a degree in something you like isn't so bad now-a-days like it has been in the very recent past. You just have to set yourself up for success and be smart about it--don't go to Harvard and NOT get scholarships. It's actually more economical to be super poor and reach for something like Harvard with scholarships than it is to just go to a state school and pay out of pocket. Have an aim of where you want to go--teaching, to D.C., to adult learning help for immigrants, to edit books or write books, etc. etc.

    You can do and love poor paying jobs. People do it all the time, and it's fine AND necessary. You just have to be smarter about it. Don't get the luxury suite in an Ivy league college and not do any work to fill in the gaps. Don't leave a total debt monster mess because you put all your food on credit cards and ate your money away in a way where the government won't help you and a dog wouldn't even loan you a bone.

    People just have to be smart about it. If you're going to be a surgeon, and you know that's your goal.. Yeah, you don't have to really worry about money after you get some experience under your belt. You just don't. But don't act like a surgeon when you're trying for a degree in teaching elementary school kindergartners.
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  6. #36
    Glamour puss with a tan Raffaella's Avatar
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    My friend graduated from civil engineering very recently and she's struggling to find a job, apparently jobs are scarce in that field. I think she's been studying for 6 years. :/

    I've heard B.S in life sciences referred to as "step-up degrees", too. They should sell undergraduate and postgraduate science as a package (8+ years for $50k+) but they lure you in with the prospect (not guarantee) of easily obtaining a position and then bombard you with the reality of it - applying for grants to maintain a career. You need to be a resourceful person to choose that path because the job security is low.

    As for unpaid internships, I've done many and they've not made me any more hireable than the next person. All employers seem care about is the quantity and quality of paid employment independent of the degree and who I'm connected to. Networking is crucial because it facilitates the search process for them (and you, of course) since they don't want someone they've never met/aren't connected to. That's how I easily got my first job and thankfully, the HR team is going to give me a good reference for my next job.
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  7. #37
    Head Pigeon Mad Hatter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by foxonstilts View Post
    I've got two out of ten as well. One of which is the top worst to have (and I have two degrees in that field!)

    Do I get a prize? No? Crippling despair? Oh, I have enough already, thanks.
    Three out of ten (English, history and liberal arts / Latin) - no degree yet, but working on it (and hoping to get finished with them soon), although English for me counts as a foreign language, so it might be a little different.

    As others have said, the importance of degrees varies considerably, depending upon whether you're looking to work on your own, or for an employer. Jobs for freelance historians are few and far between (although some probably get by), but for me, it's always been clear that I was going to earn my money by getting some sort of salary, and I don't have a problem with it. I've found that I enjoy teaching very much, and getting money for what you want to do anyway is even better.

    If you're interested in jobs that offer a good perspective anyway, or if you're the type that doesn't care anyway what you do as long as you have a good job, then fine. In all other cases, you have to compromise between what you want and what pays your bills. I thought of getting a PhD in linguistics, and I still have that goal. But seeing how other people are struggling through their doctoral thesis for years on end, just to find themselves in underpaid (and uncertain) jobs has made me change my mind of not pursuing that carreer any time soon, and only to work on it once I have found a secure job. In some areas, learning really isn't any guarantee that your investment will pay off.
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