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Best all-round college majors?

OccamsChainsaw95OccamsChainsaw95 Posts: 66Registered User Junior Member
edited July 2013 in Other College Majors
This may seem like a rather ignorant question at first but I think there is probably some value in the question.

We all know that engineering majors tend to fill the Forbes list, physics and philosophy majors generally do best of LSAT/GRE/MCAT, computer science majors are easily employable straight out of college and geologists are going to be in demand over the next few years.

In my mind, the best major would be one that offers good job prospects (not fine art), intellectual stimuli (so not business), easily applicable to the real world (not waste management and dolphin behavioural studies) and easily transferable skills.

That's why, for me, Physics seems like the best major. It's numerical basis can easily lead to jobs in finance, it tries to answer some of the most profound questions ever asked and does it in a useful, empirical way. You can apply principles of physics to everything -- considering it is the fundamental science and it's need for logical thought, physical dexterity for (some) labs and problem solving skills make it very easily transferable in the real world.

Of course, others may have better ideas of what the best 'all-round' major is, if one exists. I am curious about what you guys think. :)
Post edited by OccamsChainsaw95 on
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Replies to: Best all-round college majors?

  • vienneselightsvienneselights Posts: 410Registered User Member
    I think you underestimate the practical relevance of waste management.

    In my view, an all-round major should provide a knowledge of basic grammar.
  • DreburdenDreburden Posts: 297Registered User Junior Member
    Physics is not nearly as applicable to industry as you seem to think, especially not at the undergraduate level
  • OccamsChainsaw95OccamsChainsaw95 Posts: 66Registered User Junior Member
    I think you underestimate the practical relevance of waste management.

    In my view, an all-round major should provide a knowledge of basic grammar.
    Witty.

    In all seriousness though, I don't really care much for pedantic grammar nazis. It just comes across as pretentious. I'm sure I got the message across okay in my OP. Petty analysis of grammar is useless. Assuming that pretence is correct, your remark -- snide or not -- is probably redundant.
    Dreburden wrote:
    Physics is not nearly as applicable to industry as you seem to think, especially not at the undergraduate level
    After your post I went to look at some top programmes in the US and you are right. However, it does seem that the British Undergraduate physics degrees do have a lot of content which is easily applicable. Perhaps this is because the British system can squeeze more in or maybe it's because the curriculum is based around getting people into jobs. Either way, point taken. :)
  • vienneselightsvienneselights Posts: 410Registered User Member
    In all seriousness though, I don't really care much for pedantic grammar nazis.

    I hope the English major in HR who reviews your resume doesn't either.
    It just comes across as pretentious.

    Hypocrite lecteur - mon semblable - mon frere
    Petty analysis of grammar is useless.

    Additionally, I think an all-rounder major should ensure the correct usage of basic vocabulary, especially words that are so fundamental to one's own discipline.
    Assuming that pretence is correct, your remark -- snide or not -- is probably redundant.

    I was asserting an opinion. Why is my opinion redundant?
    D:


    My experience has been that the UK system is more knowledge-based, which can be a leeway into employment depending on the degree. Nonetheless, most people still end up working in jobs unrelated to their degree, so I don't know how much of a perk that is, unless you have your career planned out at 16 etc.
  • OccamsChainsaw95OccamsChainsaw95 Posts: 66Registered User Junior Member
    I hope the English major in HR who reviews your resume doesn't either.
    Do you really think I would send off something as important as that with no consideration of correct spelling/grammar etc?
    Hypocrite lecteur - mon semblable - mon frere
    Charles Baudelaire, right? I can't say I am very well versed but I'm sure I've read that in one of his poems.
    Additionally, I think an all-rounder major should ensure the correct usage of basic vocabulary, especially words that are so fundamental to one's own discipline.
    If you are referring to the word analysis then I don't see how it was misused, to be honest! Perhaps that further proves your point however they do say that ignorance is bliss so I'm not going to bother finding out and test that theory!
    I was asserting an opinion. Why is my opinion redundant?
    D:
    opinions can be wrong.
    My experience has been that the UK system is more knowledge-based, which can be a leeway into employment depending on the degree. Nonetheless, most people still end up working in jobs unrelated to their degree, so I don't know how much of a perk that is, unless you have your career planned out at 16 etc.
    In terms of physics I think you are wrong, for the most part. The better Universities, ie. Oxbridge, Imperial, Durham etc., do have a lot of content however it is certainly not knowledge-based -- quite the opposite, in fact. For other subjects it probably varies. I'm not sure how the English departments are run but from what I have been told from people who have done degrees/masters/PhDs/years abroad in both systems in natural sciences, the emphasis on problem solving rather than rote learning seems to be more prevalent in the UK.
  • aonoshonenaonoshonen Posts: 47Registered User Junior Member
    Waste Management is applicable.

    So you're basically asking what is the "best" major in my opinion? That's an inherently difficult question. I think one that mixes the humanities and sciences would be the best, but I can't think of one that does that off the top of my head, since they're so distinct.

    I'm a firm believer that STEM majors are the best and most applicable, but that they lack the enrichment and wisdom that the humanities subjects hold. Humanities teach people about other people and how and why we interact, and I think that's essential for someone to be truly learned.

    I think people should take a breadth in both fields. But if you forced me to give an answer, I'd say Civil Engineering because its the closest thing to a humanities-science major I can think of.
  • OccamsChainsaw95OccamsChainsaw95 Posts: 66Registered User Junior Member
    aonoshonen wrote:
    x
    That is an interesting rationale. So if I were to ask what the best double major might be for an all-round education you would pick a STEM subject and a humanities subject?

    In honesty, I think I'm just trying to find the easy way out of deciding on courses to take in the freshman year! I know the odds are that I will just major in whatever interests me when I get there but I figure I should go in with a sensible plan in case I don't find my vocation!
  • aonoshonenaonoshonen Posts: 47Registered User Junior Member
    Yup, but if the education in this country were better and more generic, I wouldn't be pushing for the humanities in addition.

    I think more high schools and maybe middle schools need general classes for students to get more practice in practical subjects and learn more of the world. 2 history courses each on Europe, Asia, and the rest of the world. An econ, psychology, government and current events (politics), and better health/physical education classes. Home ec classes or classes on practical life things like driving wouldn't be bad either. In exchange, some less enlightening classes like English could be cut.

    But our system doesnt have good, rounded education, so thats why I advocate humanities alongside sciences. What do you think?
  • OccamsChainsaw95OccamsChainsaw95 Posts: 66Registered User Junior Member
    Ah, so a general education on top of a major would be ideal? That makes sense. :)

    I think that you Americans are actually pretty lucky in terms of the breadth of your education. In the UK we do study about 14 subjects from 12-16 but between 16 and 18 we study between 3 and 6 depending on your aspirations.
    At British Universities you generally study one single honours BSc/BA for 3 years and progress straight on to work or graduate studies!

    I think that if the US education system were to change it would be good to have a 'core' that everyone has to take at undergraduate level (the subjects you mentioned plus a language, imo). It would leave for less room for indecisiveness but would also give everyone a solid knowledge base :)

    Hopefully, the UK will be stepping in this direction soon too. We are seeing progression with a few Universities offering courses they are calling Liberal Arts and Sciences where you can chose classes every year but they are a minority.

    I think that probably one of the engineering premed tracks would give a good, solid education. At ones I have looked at you have to take a language, humanities subjects (sociology, psychology etc), science classes in bio chem phys stats, and you also learn a useful STEM trade. The major is practical and you have to do labs for premed too.

    I'm not sure how many electives you would have left but if any -- politics, econ and history related stuff would fill the gaps for me :)

    I'm only 17 so maybe I am still naive but I think that sort of route makes sense. It would be hard, granted, but it seems like a solid plan!
  • PalierPalier Posts: 155Registered User Junior Member
    So you're saying I'll be intellectually stagnate because of business, the field that makes the world go round? Uh huh..

    No one should cut English.
  • OccamsChainsaw95OccamsChainsaw95 Posts: 66Registered User Junior Member
    Palier wrote:
    So you're saying I'll be intellectually stagnate because of business
    Lets face it, business is hardly conceptually difficult.
  • vienneselightsvienneselights Posts: 410Registered User Member
    I'm not seeing anything in any of this that isn't already happening.

    @aonoshonen
    I'm sure you noticed that the top colleges in this country require 3-4 years of each of the subjects you mentioned. I assure you, selecting for income, middle class and upper students are able to meet and surpass those requirements. Students from underperforming, mostly public schools will not - but that is lastly a question of curriculum, and persists among low-income populations in any nation.

    What do you mean by practical subjects? Shop class and Home Ec? So, like, technical schools?

    @Occams
    Most colleges have distribution requirements such as the ones you list. I'm not with you on changing the UK system to fit that model - there are many students who are ready to specialize straight out of high school and therefore welcome the strict European curriculum. I'm not sure breadth requirements are a good thing, really. Maybe it's better to go into a defined discipline and pull through to a degree, rather than languish in limbo for 2 years and maybe never graduate.
  • aonoshonenaonoshonen Posts: 47Registered User Junior Member
    How do I quote a post on this forum?

    @Palier, you say no one should cut English - why is that? What makes 4 years of it so necessary when there are so many other classes that can improve English reading and writing while learning other, more practical materials?

    @vienneselights, I'm not sure what you mean. Most colleges do not require 2 courses on Europe, Asia, and the rest of the world for you to apply there. They usually require American History, Gov and Pol, and a world history. Asian and European histories are usually optional. Econ, psych, and home ec aren't usually required either. Couldn't follow what else you said either.

    Not necessarily technical. Practical classes that teach people basic things that they may use but do not know. I know a lot of students who weren't or still aren't able to cook, even some who didn't know how to do laundry, others who don't know how to drive, yet they're all relatively important skills. To a lesser extent, other general knowledge or technical skills like knowing basics of how to fix small car problems, what foods are good for you, good exercising techniques, and things like how to put together a bookcase or desk.

    These might seem trivial, but there's honestly a lot of people who can't do some basic things like this. You could argue that everything I listed is googleable or youtubeable, but so are a lot of other subjects, and these are basic things that would definitely come in handy.
  • OccamsChainsaw95OccamsChainsaw95 Posts: 66Registered User Junior Member
    @aonoshonen
    How to quote: [*quote]How do I quote a post on this forum?[/quote*]
    e.g
    How do I quote a post on this forum?

    If you wish to add the username 'aonoshonen' then [*quote=aonoshonen]How do I quote a post on this forum?[/quote*] is what you want.
    e.g.
    aonoshonen wrote:
    How do I quote a post on this forum?

    In both forms, remove the asterisks :)
  • GLOBALTRAVELERGLOBALTRAVELER Posts: 2,847Registered User Senior Member
    The best all-around major is............................



    The Applied Mathematics/Computer Science major

    Math can be used in many industries and the computer science can be either a plus or used as a backup plan.
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