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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

  • toowonderfultoowonderful Registered User Posts: 3,313 Senior Member
    @JHS you have a very valid point. But I don't think the posters on this thread/forum who have such disdain for anyone who chooses a non STEM major (including inferring that they are automatically less intelligent and/or less driven) fall into what you describe.
  • JHSJHS Registered User Posts: 16,731 Senior Member
    @blossom : My (admittedly anecdotal) experience with the sort of major you are describing is a little different. One of my young cousins -- someone who as an infant required a lot of high-intervention medical care, had modest learning disabilities, and never did especially well in school -- majored in hospitality management or something like that at a directional public university. Her first job post-college was a nepotism thing working for another cousin of ours for low pay at a tiny ad agency in a small city doing event planning. Not quite a decade (and three jobs) later, she is an extremely successful event planner working for a global ad agency in New York City, loving her career and her life, and earning an astonishing paycheck. Event planning turned out to be something she was really good at, that the world also needed. I am not certain she would have found her niche, or had the confidence to do well enough at it from the start that she kept getting more, tougher assignments, were it not for the supremely practical, almost entirely nonacademic training she got in college.

    My wife is a mission-driven social reformer who has spent her career bouncing back and forth between the public and nonprofit sectors. She claims that she never heard of Cornell's Hotel Management School until she was and adult, and she maintains an alternate fantasy life in which she went there and had a satisfying, lucrative career developing and running hotels (something she would have done quite well).

    Forget sports management, though. I would put people who start sports management programs in jail.

    @toowonderful : You are right about the contempt. I have three friends who are having or had trouble with a child who is/was completely focused on money and technology, and utterly contemptuous of humanities. Their fathers were all classic humanities majors -- Spanish Lit, Art History, Linguistics -- with very successful careers, in one case to the point of .01% wealth. The parents were all about discovery and passion; the kids' passion was competing to see who made the most money, and they had no use for education except as a particular set of unpleasant levels they had to beat in the video game of their lives.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 60,870 Senior Member
    edited November 2015
    mamalion wrote:
    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.

    You mean this?
    http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/info-Degrees_that_Pay_you_Back-sort.html

    Mid career pay levels from this survey (from Payscale, so take the limitations of that into consideration):
    Major           10th %ile       median          90th %ile
    
    English         33,400          64,700          133,000
    Music           26,700          55,000          134,000
    Philosophy      35,500          81,200          168,000
    
    Nursing         47,600          67,000           98,300
    Physician Asst  66,400          91,700          124,000
    

    Note that the first three majors in the table above are high-Gini, while the last two are low-Gini. Purely from a mid-career earnings perspective, the last two are "safer" in terms of the low end being higher, but have lower potential at the top end.

    Of course, pay levels after graduation should not be the only criterion for selecting a college major, although it is understandable that most students will consider them as one of various criteria (as they wonder how to pay off their student loans).
  • romanigypsyeyesromanigypsyeyes Registered User Posts: 31,644 Senior Member
    While I understand better than just about anyone that poor kids don't have a safety net, I don't like the tendency to try to scare poor kids away from the humanities as though it might be a gamble. The humanities shouldn't be reserved for the rich.

    (Says the former full Pell, humanities student who couldn't imagine having majored in anything other than the humanities.)
  • mamalionmamalion Registered User Posts: 629 Member
    ucbalumnus, that is very similar to what I saw, but I have no memory of the percentile spread, which is very helpful. Thx.
  • BeeDAreBeeDAre Registered User Posts: 1,153 Senior Member
    ^Absolutely, @romanigypsyeyes . Another first-gen Humanities major here.
    I terrified my mother, I think, when I decided to major in literature. But - it's all been good. I'd do it all over again, even taking the time off to work in a factory to afford to get the degree...
    I cannot imagine having worked so hard to study something I had no passion for and interest in...

    Many white-collar entry-level opportunities for Humanities students, even first-gen ones...
  • SaintSaensSaintSaens Registered User Posts: 1,249 Senior Member
    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...

    You see this all the time in computer science. A lot of people think that software engineers run the whole world. It's common enough that people, myself included, have pre-made snarky responses towards this attitude. Have fun trying to run a successful software startup without sales, legal, and marketing departments.
  • cobratcobrat Registered User Posts: 12,084 Senior Member
    edited November 2015
    While I understand better than just about anyone that poor kids don't have a safety net, I don't like the tendency to try to scare poor kids away from the humanities as though it might be a gamble. The humanities shouldn't be reserved for the rich.

    (Says the former full Pell, humanities student who couldn't imagine having majored in anything other than the humanities.)


    ^Absolutely, @romanigypsyeyes . Another first-gen Humanities major here.
    I terrified my mother, I think, when I decided to major in literature. But - it's all been good. I'd do it all over again, even taking the time off to work in a factory to afford to get the degree...
    I cannot imagine having worked so hard to study something I had no passion for and interest in...

    Many white-collar entry-level opportunities for Humanities students, even first-gen ones...

    Agreed as another former near-full ride scholarship student from a low-income family who ended up majoring in a field which could be classified as a humanities or a social science depending on one's perspective and methodological approach.

    Granted, I also did enough self-studying/tinkering with computer technology that I was able to hold part-time/summer jobs as a computer techie and later, land a job in few computer technology startups and some IT/IS departments.

    I was fortunate that most older relatives, even the heavily pre-professional side with a heavy presence of engineers didn't view undergrad as a form of vocational training and would be horrified if their own kids expressed such attitudes* when it came time to applying to colleges.

    Granted, most did came of age when a college/university education was supposed to be an education to expand one's intellectual horizons and to further hone one's intellectual chops to a finer point and when if one was solely interested in vocational training...the student/family be expected to find themselves an apprenticeship/vocational school or to start working and learning on the job....not college.

    * If they did, their inclination was to conclude they're not intellectually mature/ready for a college education and have them work a full-time job, join the military, or if they had the financial means and the child showed some seriousness...start them out in a small business.
  • PizzagirlPizzagirl Registered User Posts: 40,488 Senior Member
    "I was fortunate that most older relatives, even the heavily pre-professional side with a heavy presence of engineers didn't view undergrad as a form of vocational training"

    I was fortunate in that the only "older relatives" who were involved in my education were my parents who were funding it. How tiresome to have to have the approval of a bunch of nosy aunts, uncles or cousins unable to mind their own business.
  • PizzagirlPizzagirl Registered User Posts: 40,488 Senior Member
    "Not quite a decade (and three jobs) later, she is an extremely successful event planner working for a global ad agency in New York City, loving her career and her life, and earning an astonishing paycheck. Event planning turned out to be something she was really good at, that the world also needed. "

    This to me is where cc-ers seem to lose their common sense. Of course an organized person with a great sense of style could be a fabulous event planner and of course could make a nice living. Of course one could make a lot of money (if that's the goal) doing a lot of things, many of which don't require a fancy degree. I think it's the mark of a limited person to think that only STEM majors, computer sci people, or WS financiers make any money. It just screams - I have no sense of reality.
  • cobratcobrat Registered User Posts: 12,084 Senior Member
    I was fortunate in that the only "older relatives" who were involved in my education were my parents who were funding it. How tiresome to have to have the approval of a bunch of nosy aunts, uncles or cousins unable to mind their own business.

    Way to miss the point.

    It wasn't active approval...but the absence of the type of "must major in something practical which leads directly to a job" mentality.

    Part of this was due to the fact some older relatives who were engineers..including licensed ones experienced periods of unemployment due to cyclical downturns in their respective fields or knew friends/colleagues/former engineering school classmates who ended up becoming involuntary SAHP, driving taxis, waiting tables, working retail, etc to make ends meet. They knew very well being in a "practical" STEM major wasn't a guaranteed meal ticket.

    I got to see a similar phenomenon back in 2001 when the dot-com industry crashed and with it, the employment prospects of most CS/computer engineering/IT majors in that period. There were a few years when many of them similarly ended up being involuntary SAHP, driving taxis, waiting tables, serving coffee, working retail, or spending long periods unemployed living in their parents' basement.

    In fact, in 2011, I chatted up one customer service rep of a major car retailer chain who was a former CS major who recounted graduated right into the dotcom crash. He recounted that crash caused him a long period of unemployment after college due to the downturn in the computer tech industry of the period and factored into his never entering the computer technology field.
  • jym626jym626 Registered User Posts: 51,441 Senior Member
    Don't think PG is the one who missed the point...
  • PizzagirlPizzagirl Registered User Posts: 40,488 Senior Member
    edited November 2015
    The point, cobrat, is that it's weird that your relatives had any say or input at all in what you chose to major in / do for a living. Or that their mentality and priorities should have mattered to you.

    What would happen if one of your older relatives "disapproved" of a certain school, major, or career path? Nothing. Not a thing. It's not their concern. It's like "disapproving" that my neighbor next door paints her living room yellow. It's simply not my concern

  • cobratcobrat Registered User Posts: 12,084 Senior Member
    The point, cobrat, is that it's weird that your relatives had any say or input at all in what you chose to major in / do for a living.

    Most of them didn't and you did miss the point which was MOST didn't have the mentality of forcing their kids/us to consider "practical majors" which are perceived to lead directly to jobs.

    If anything...most of them would be horrified by that idea not only because they don't feel that's what a college education's purpose is...but also because several of them have experienced firsthand/found even graduates of "practical majors" can go through periods of long unemployment...or even lead to graduates staying in their parents' basement.
  • jym626jym626 Registered User Posts: 51,441 Senior Member
    Just curious, Cobrat- where did you attend college for your freshman year before transferring to Oberlin?
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