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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

  • cobratcobrat Registered User Posts: 11,456 Senior Member
    edited November 2015
    One contrary case to the stereotypical bandied about here that engineering majors at a given school always had higher GPA/SAT stats is the case of Columbia College vs Columbia SEAS during the '90s and earlier.

    During that period, it was well-known that Columbia College required higher HS GPA and overall SAT scores than Columbia SEAS provided the applicant to the latter had near perfect math SAT scores*. Something which wasn't an issue at my or many other STEM-centered public magnet HSs.

    This knowledge was used by many students who were academically lopsided in the STEM area to exploit the lower admissions requirements for Columbia SEAS as an effective backdoor to transfer into and graduate from the more prestigious and initially harder to get into Columbia College...the main Arts & Sciences college within Columbia U.

    Something which was possible back then as before the early '00s, all that was required to transfer between divisions once one was admitted to Columbia SEAS was to have one year in good academic standing** and submitting pro-forma paperwork indicating a desire to transfer divisions.

    Many HS classmates during my HS years and earlier exploited this loophole as a way to backdoor their way into Columbia College and graduate with its perceived more prestigious degree. This was likely one key factor in why Columbia U changed their divisional transfer policies sometime after the early '00s so one now has to file a full transfer application as if one's transferring from another university.

    * 'College advising section of the 90s and 80's era Stuyvesant High School Student Handbooks.

    ** Also not too big of an issue for most HS classmates, especially considering one can get away with loading up on Gen Eds during the first year before going through the pro-forma divisional transfer process which existed back then.
  • ZinheadZinhead Registered User Posts: 2,191 Senior Member
    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.

    First of all, I am not bashing non-STEM majors, just pointing out that in general STEM majors tend to do better than non-STEM majors in terms of academic requirements and in terms of post graduation success (not living in the basement). More "get up and go" if you want to use that term.

    For instance, in the list that usbalumnus posted and using his or her definition of a STEM major, of the top 10 fields at SJSU, 60 percent were STEM related. Of the 23 fields that had lower academic requirements, only 26 percent were STEM related. That is pretty good evidence that at SJSU, STEM fields are more rigorous than non-STEM fields.

    Only someone overly sensitive would find that statement to be bashing non-STEM majors or students. Frankly, I don't understand why you, @bclintonk and others get so upset over this. It's just data that parents and students can use to help make more informed academic and career decisions.
  • toowonderfultoowonderful Registered User Posts: 3,191 Senior Member
    I have said this before- but all the emphasis these days on how a STEM major is the "only" path to a successful life (or represents the "best" students) always makes me laugh - ESPECIALLY when people bring out the reams of scores etc as proof. When I was going to school in the 80s people said the same things about business majors and the value of an MBA. New flash - There is no guaranteed path to success- standardized tests are intrinsically flawed, and no major represents "the most" intelligent kids. It's just silly. Why does it matter? The college process is stressful enough without all of the added competitive parenting.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 59,278 Senior Member
    Zinhead wrote:
    For instance, in the list that usbalumnus posted and using his or her definition of a STEM major, of the top 10 fields at SJSU, 60 percent were STEM related. Of the 23 fields that had lower academic requirements, only 26 percent were STEM related. That is pretty good evidence that at SJSU, STEM fields are more rigorous than non-STEM fields.

    Admission thresholds at SJSU are purely based on popularity versus capacity. They are not based on rigor of the subjects involved. How many would claim that philosophy and physics are less rigorous than accounting and public relations?
  • CrispyBulletCrispyBullet Registered User Posts: 91 Junior Member
    edited November 2015
    "Which College Majors Lead Graduates to Their Parents’ Basements"

    Gender Studies major.

    But every major has varying numbers of graduates moving back in to their parents' basements. There is no basement-proof college major out there. The individual and his/her choices are probably as important a variable as the choice of major. And correlation does not equal causation, i.e. just because certain majors have a lot of its graduates moving back into their parents' basements does not necessarily mean that the major is THE cause.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Registered User Posts: 81,607 Senior Member
    It was my post that mentioned "get up and go spirit" and it didn't specify STEM majors.

    <<<
    Anyone with ambition (the ole 'get up and go' spirit) can be a success with any major.
    <<<
  • PizzagirlPizzagirl Registered User Posts: 40,488 Senior Member
    "Only someone overly sensitive would find that statement to be bashing non-STEM majors or students. Frankly, I don't understand why you, @bclintonk and others get so upset over this. It's just data that parents and students can use to help make more informed academic and career decisions."

    How does that help a student make more informed decisions? If my kid isn't interested in STEM, he won't do well at it - so who cares how much money they make?

    It seems to me that a considerable number of STEM majors go into departmental silos where all they are ever exposed to are other engineers, etc. so they just really seem not to have a clue about the myriad other functions needed to run a business. That's why they don't understand and deride marketing or HR or advertising or sales or governmental affairs or strategic planner. They seriously don't get the concept of "real jobs" in fields outside their own. That's nothing to brag about.
  • cobratcobrat Registered User Posts: 11,456 Senior Member
    edited November 2015
    It's not due to being isolated only among engineering/STEM majors.

    It's more fields requiring greater quant proficiency required in their respective engineering/STEM majors are "superior" over those requiring less.

    There's also a bit of a quant one upsmanship among STEM majors. From what I've observed among aspiring STEM major HS classmates and some engineering/STEM relatives, the following pecking order shows which majors feel the most right to dismiss/trash talk those "lower than them" from top to bottom:

    Physics/Math

    Electrical/Computer Engineering/CS
    Mechanical Engineering
    Chemical Engineering/Chemistry/Pre-meds after first year

    Civil Engineering/Materials Science
    Industrial Engineering & Operations Research(Commonly known among other engineering majors as the "gut" business major equivalent in many Engineering divisions/colleges)

    Biology & other natural sciences

    Economics with heavy quant emphasis for Econ PhD

    Economics without
    Whenever I hear people deriding humanities majors, or any major but STEM, it makes me wonder - do they never watch tv shows, never see/read/hear advertisements, never listen to music, never go to movies or plays, never go to a museum, never read a fiction or non-fiction book about history or politics, never send their children to school, do they never need a lawyer...

    They do, but regard producers of them in the same way a stereotypical snobby jerk would be dismissive towards a service worker in retail or fast food.

    Unfortunately, this attitude is prevalent among a critical mass of STEM majors and even those in STEM related careers such as engineering, computer science, and medicine(especially those in more competitive specializations like Cardiology or Neurosurgery).

    Part of this among some is rooted in resentment/anger over being bullied for being "Nerdy"* and passionate about STEM fields in many mainstream US K-12 environments. I can understand some of that as I've experienced a bit of this in K-8...though in my case it was mainly for being "nerdy".


    * Meaning more academically engaged and achieving than average.
  • toowonderfultoowonderful Registered User Posts: 3,191 Senior Member
    I refuse to think that science/math kids took more grief than the kids who are passionate readers (like classics for fun) or deeply into the arts (drama and/or band geek? Talk about a stereotype.) I was that kid- majored in humanities. (And have had steady employment in the top tax bracket for nearly 30 years) My kid is that kid- majoring theater- because for her college is about discovery and passion, not trying to figure out why will make the biggest paycheck.
  • cobratcobrat Registered User Posts: 11,456 Senior Member
    I refuse to think that science/math kids took more grief than the kids who are passionate readers (like classics for fun) or deeply into the arts (drama and/or band geek? Talk about a stereotype.*) I was that kid- majored in humanities. (And have had steady employment in the top tax bracket for nearly 30 years) My kid is that kid- majoring theater- because for her college is about discovery and passion, not trying to figure out why will make the biggest paycheck.

    I'm not saying that's the reality. Am merely saying that's the perception SOME aspiring STEM majors/STEM majors/those working in STEM fields with such resentments have.

    Some of my insights into the STEM uber alles mentality comes from having a large number of engineers and science folks in my family; having attended a STEM-centered public magnet full of aspiring engineers/computer techies, pre-meds, and Science PhDs; and from being in frequent contact with engineers/computer techies** in my working and social life.

    * Speaking of arts or humanities geeks, one reason why some STEM folks who harbor the resentments I describe above would not only fail to relate to their situations, but also be resentful and jealous of them is a prevailing stereotypical perception that the arts/humanities geeks are much more socially popular and get more dates/sex/fulfilling relationships than they do. And yes, this perception is almost exclusively among the male STEM folks who hold such resentments.

    ** Some of the ones in my social life also have a foothold in the arts world as they also craft artistic works, write creatively, and/or play in various indie rock bands. One friend and former college classmate was a double-degree major at my undergrad LAC(viola/chemistry) who is now pursing a Chem PhD at an HYPSM school.
  • mamalionmamalion Registered User Posts: 606 Member
    I can't look it up right now, but the number to compare is mid-career salary. When I looked it up for myself and my DD2 a few months ago, it was true that nurses made more than English majors the first year out of school. Their average salaries were equal by midcareer. Now it's true that all the years they weren't equal affected lifetime earnings, but given a modest difference, not a lifetime in the basement, shouldn't one follow one's passion?

    I have a niece with a MA in art history. We all were worried about that major. She is in her late 20s now, self-supporting, and travelling the world to set up art expos (in Venice this month).

    It's a bit silly to pick a major to avoid the basement.

    Aside: at one university I know, the gender studies students do fabulously because of its robust internship program
  • toowonderfultoowonderful Registered User Posts: 3,191 Senior Member
    Again- just my opinion- but choosing a college, a career, or pretty much anything based on fear (i "have to" do it this way b/c I want to be successful....) is not an excellent recipe for a happy life.
  • JHSJHS Registered User Posts: 16,516 Senior Member
    I . . . majored in humanities [a]nd have had steady employment in the top tax bracket for nearly 30 years. My kid is . . . majoring theater- because for her college is about discovery and passion, not trying to figure out wh[at] will make the biggest paycheck.

    Not a criticism, but an observation: I strongly suspect those two (slightly edited) sentences are highly correlated with one another. I could have written a version of both. I majored in what amounted to Literary Theory. My wife constructed what in today's world would be a major in Women's and Gender Studies out of a double major in Psychology and American Studies. We have had satisfying, highly paid careers. We encouraged our children to pursue what interested them in college, not what would lead to some defined set of jobs. (And, by the way, our English Lit major far outearns our Quanty Social Science major and, ten years after entering college, far outearned the median for her very quant-heavy college, at least based on the Federal data.)

    That said, I think I understand how kids and families that are not comfortable economically and do not have a family safety net see "discovery and passion" as frivolous, and want their higher education to be about qualifying them for a high-paid career.
  • blossomblossom Registered User Posts: 7,689 Senior Member
    "That said, I think I understand how kids and families that are not comfortable economically and do not have a family safety net see "discovery and passion" as frivolous, and want their higher education to be about qualifying them for a high-paid career. "

    I understand this too. But piling on to the lack of understanding as to how the high paid career labor markets operate- with threads like this one- doesn't seem to be a very helpful solution- and is somewhat patronizing to boot. I know first gen college graduates who are stunned to discover that the job they thought they were "training" for is being held by someone with a degree in what they consider basketweaving. It is hard to explain to the new grad with a degree in sports management from random third tier college that the NFL (which is heavily populated by elite college grads with a bunch of humanities students thrown in there) or ESPN need people who write well. Think critically. Can read. etc. I had a recent counseling session with a nice young kid who wants to be a sports agent. I walked him through what that meant- both educationally and intellectually- and he was horrified. (he doesn't like numbers, isn't good at math, but thinks he's an "excellent negotiator". I pointed out that an MLB heavy-hitter isn't hiring an agent who can't "do math". We're not talking differential equations here- just basic multiplication).

    So every time someone posts here about how studying history leads to unemployment, I think of the kids I know in real life. Who are told to major in something "practical"- and then often discover that "practical" (leisure studies, event management, real estate management) is a code word for "not great employment prospects, hope you don't have too many loans".
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