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Which College Majors Lead Graduates to Their Parents’ Basements

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Replies to: Which College Majors Lead Graduates to Their Parents’ Basements

  • ZinheadZinhead Registered User Posts: 1,671 Senior Member
    edited November 2015
    This is just so wrong on so many levels, it's hard even to know where to begin. In the first place, it's just incredibly insulting to an awful lot of brilliant, hard-working, and highly accomplished people out there who have soared to the top of non-STEM academic disciplines and through a combination of talent, hard work, and "getup and go" have achieved enormous professional success. The idea that "getup and go" is confined to STEM fields reflects, IMO, an extremely narrow, shallow, and distorted understanding of what makes the world tick.

    This is a total mis-characterization of my point. I never said that "getup and go" is confined to STEM fields, just that STEM major tend to have more "get up and go" than non-STEM majors. The data supports that. The following link is to the freshman profile for the University of Illinois broken down by school. You can clearly see that the College of Engineering has by far the most qualified student body in terms of test scores and class rank. Additionally, the colleges with some science component tend to have higher entrance standards than the purely non-STEM schools. This trend is replicated throughout most state flagship schools

    I have no doubt that there are plenty of smart, talented, hard-working, self-starters in non-STEM fields. My assertion is that there are more of them in the STEM area than the non-STEM area.

    https://admissions.illinois.edu/Apply/Freshman/profile

    College of Agricultural, Consumer, & Environmental Sciences
    ACT Score: 25-30
    SAT Score (no writing): 1230-1390
    TOEFL: 96-106
    High School Class Rank: 79-95%

    College of Applied Health Sciences
    ACT Score: 25-30
    SAT Score (no writing): 1200-1350
    TOEFL: 98-108
    High School Class Rank: 80-95%

    College of Business
    ACT Score: 28-32
    SAT Score (no writing): 1320-1440
    TOEFL: 102-109
    High School Class Rank: 88-97%

    College of Education
    ACT Score: 25-29
    SAT Score (no writing): 1200-1350
    TOEFL: 100-110
    High School Class Rank: 77-93%

    College of Engineering
    ACT Score: 31-34
    SAT Score (no writing): 1400-1520
    TOEFL: 105-112
    High School Class Rank: 92-99%

    College of Fine + Applied Arts
    ACT Score: 25-30
    SAT Score (no writing): 1200-1390
    TOEFL: 94-106
    High School Class Rank: 72-94%

    College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
    ACT Score: 27-32
    SAT Score (no writing): 1320-1450
    TOEFL: 102-109
    High School Class Rank: 85-97%

    College of Media
    ACT Score: 26-30
    SAT Score (no writing): 1230-1400
    TOEFL: 102-108
    High School Class Rank: 80-92%

    Division of General Studies
    ACT Score: 25-30
    SAT Score (no writing): 1300-1420
    TOEFL: 98-106
    High School Class Rank: 79-94%

    School of Social Work
    ACT Score: 24-27
    SAT Score (no writing): 1150-1350
    TOEFL: 105-107
    High School Class Rank: 74-90%

  • LucieTheLakieLucieTheLakie Registered User Posts: 3,615 Senior Member
    While I agree with most of what you write, @bclintonk, I think you need to be careful about over-generalizing about STEM students:
    More or less universal among STEM majors is the need to satisfactorily complete some "gen ed" requirements---i.e., they need to earn some social science and humanities credits. Almost to a person they do this by taking the easiest, baby-level introductory courses, which they are steered toward either by their academic advisers or by student lore recommending the "gut" courses that will most easily satisfy their gen ed requirements.
    "Almost to a person"? Do you have any actual evidence of that?

    Of course there are lots of little worker-bee STEM students at many universities, majoring in engineering or pursuing a premed track because their parents have given them no other options or because they think this is what the "smartest" students do, but there are plenty of very thoughtful STEM students out there, who meet their gen ed requirements taking challenging classes, even in engineering.

    One of the main reasons you don't see non-STEM majors switch into engineering is because it's virtually impossible to complete an engineering curriculum in four years if you don't start meeting the requirements for the major your first semester freshman year unless you've entered with a slew of AP credits. Most shrewd students approach that conundrum by starting out in engineering to hedge their bets because it's "easier to switch out than switch in."
  • DecideSomeHowDecideSomeHow Registered User Posts: 627 Member
    More or less universal among STEM majors is the need to satisfactorily complete some "gen ed" requirements---i.e., they need to earn some social science and humanities credits. Almost to a person they do this by taking the easiest, baby-level introductory courses,
    You do realize that "gen ed" requirements also include math and science? From my point of view, the non-stem folks take the easiest, baby-level versions of those.
  • emilybeeemilybee Registered User Posts: 10,768 Senior Member
    @zinhead, I don't see anything in your post (#61) that has anything to do with "get up and go."

    If you want to make the argument that STEM majors have higher GPA's and standardized test scores in high school, have at it. But the notion that STEM majors have more "get up and go" than non stem major is baseless (and ridiculous.)
  • ZinheadZinhead Registered User Posts: 1,671 Senior Member
    @emilybee - I would argue that class rank is a very good proxy for "get up and go" At UofI, students of the School of Engineering have a class rank of 92-99% which is the highest of any of the schools. It takes alot of self-motivation to push yourself and be at the top of your class.

    It is interesting that @emilybee and @bclintonk haven't posted any data that support their positions, but spouted baseless opinions.
  • ZinheadZinhead Registered User Posts: 1,671 Senior Member
    @Overtheedge - I am sure that there are plenty of smart non-STEM majors at Williams and other LACs. However, I stand by assertion that STEM majors are harder working and have more "get up and go." If you want to refute that, post some verifiable admissions statistics like that for UofI that show non-STEM majors having higher class ranks and test scores than STEM majors.
  • emilybeeemilybee Registered User Posts: 10,768 Senior Member

    It is interesting that @emilybee and @bclintonk haven't posted any data that support their positions, but spouted baseless opinions.

    I haven't posted any data because I don't believe there is anything which can measure "get up and go." Get up and go has nothing to do with grades, test scores or what one majors in.

  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 Registered User Posts: 7,946 Senior Member
    Maybe "get up and go" can be measured by the number of CEOs and powerful politicians/judges/public figures generated by various majors?

    I suspect that could go either way but non-STEM majors would be well represented.
    ...it's virtually impossible to complete an engineering curriculum in four years if you don't start meeting the requirements for the major your first semester freshman year unless you've entered with a slew of AP credits. Most shrewd students approach that conundrum by starting out in engineering to hedge their bets because it's "easier to switch out than switch in."

    Very true. That was my kid's planned approach to Pharm but she would up going Chem (pre-med) instead. And frankly, pre-med is a bet-hedger too - she's not sure it's what she wants but it's a lot harder to try to catch up on that later than it is to switch out. STEM courses have such specific sequences and pre-reqs, humanities majors certainly have some but they don't seem nearly as structured and sequenced. A soc major who has taken intro and stats is probably able to get into most any of the next level soc courses, but a Chem major needs a certain level of math, maybe a Bio, a pre-req chem, etc to go to step b, then that plus maybe physics for step c, etc. Trying to jump in after freshman year is basically impossible.
  • bclintonkbclintonk Registered User Posts: 7,118 Senior Member
    @Zinhead,

    I wouldn't take the University of Illinois as representative. It's one of the most "lopsided" public flagships, extremely strong in engineering and physical sciences, generally more pedestrian in humanities and social sciences. For that reason, it's a no-brainer for the brightest students in the state who want to study engineering to head to Champaign-Urbana if they're admitted to the engineering school, because it's easily one of the top 10 engineering programs in the country. But for many bright Illinois residents interested in humanities and/or social sciences, Michigan or Wisconsin often look like more attractive options, even at high OOS tuition rates, and there are large numbers of Illinois residents attending both schools. And of course, many of the brightest humanities/social sciences types will look to top private colleges and universities, including several close at hand---Northwestern and the University of Chicago, obviously, but WUSTL and Notre Dame are also barely more than a stone's throw away,and Illinois sends a much larger contingent to top Northeastern private research universities and LACs than any other Midwestern state. And of course, when it comes to attracting OOS and international students, it's the University of Illinois' strengths in engineering and the physical sciences that draw the most interest, which only further strengthens the engineering school's selectivity and admissions stats.
    Additionally, the colleges with some science component tend to have higher entrance standards than the purely non-STEM schools.

    So which are the "purely" non-STEM schools? You can't include the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences in that category because it's got math & sciences; indeed it's one of only 3 colleges at Illinois with the word "sciences" in its name. But surely you're not suggesting that CLAS admission stats are as high as they are only because of the STEM students. Also notice that the other two colleges with the "sciences" moniker, the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences and the College of Applied Health Sciences, have fairly pedestrian admissions standards for Illinois. Surely those schools have "some science component." So I don't think your blanket statement is true even for the University of Illinois. But absolutely, engineering is very strong there.

  • ZinheadZinhead Registered User Posts: 1,671 Senior Member
    @bclintonk - If you find fault with the University of Illinois data set, I am sure you can find another publicly verifiable data set from a major research university that shows that STEM majors have worse or at least equal admission statistics as non-STEM majors.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 56,599 Senior Member
    Zinhead wrote:
    The data supports that. The following link is to the freshman profile for the University of Illinois broken down by school. You can clearly see that the College of Engineering has by far the most qualified student body in terms of test scores and class rank.

    This is reflective of applicant demand relative to departmental capacity. UIUC's engineering division has stronger students because it is more popular relative to capacity than other divisions, so it can be more selective.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 56,599 Senior Member
    edited November 2015
    Zinhead wrote:
    If you find fault with the University of Illinois data set, I am sure you can find another publicly verifiable data set from a major research university that shows that STEM majors have worse or at least equal admission statistics as non-STEM majors.

    Not a research university, but here is a school which publishes its admission thresholds by major:
    http://info.sjsu.edu/web-dbgen/narr/static/admission/frosh-f2015impact.html

    Note: the numbers are an eligibility index of GPA * 800 + SAT_CR + SAT_M. Bold indicates a STEM major; italic indicates what are often (but not always) considered to be STEM majors.

    The most selective (i.e. most popular relative to capacity) majors for fall 2015 frosh were:

    4300 computer science
    4200 business administration - accounting
    4000 animation - illustration
    4000 computer engineering
    3950 undeclared - pre-nursing
    3750 public relations
    3700 biological sciences - molecular biology
    3700 business administration - general
    3700 forensic science - chemistry
    3700 nutritional science - packaging

    The least selective majors were:

    2900 African American studies
    2900 applied math - statistics
    2900 art - various concentrations other than animation
    2900 aviation
    2900 Chinese
    2900 creative arts, and prep for teaching
    2900 dance BA and BFA
    2900 English, various
    2900 French
    2900 geography
    2900 geology
    2900 humanities, various area studies
    2900 industrial tech, computer tech or manufacturing systems
    2900 Japanese
    2900 jazz studies
    2900 linguistics
    2900 materials engineering
    2900 meteorology
    2900 music, various
    2900 philosophy
    2900 physics, prep for teaching or BA
    2900 Spanish, and prep for teaching
    2900 theater arts, and prep for teaching

    There is no clear delineation of STEM versus non-STEM majors' selectivity and therefore strength of frosh students at this university.
  • romanigypsyeyesromanigypsyeyes Registered User Posts: 30,425 Senior Member
    And funny, UCB, that philosophy is so low on the list when we have another thread going on about how successful philosophy majors are.

    Maybe... just *maybe*... SAT scores don't dictate the rest of one's life.

    *GASP* ;) :p

    (note, UCB, my snark is not in any way directed at you.)

    Zin, you clearly have a bone to pick with universities, and that's fine, but I don't understand (and never will) the need for some to bash non-STEM. It's just so tiresome.
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