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Choice of Major Does Impact Jobs

cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29422 replies58 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
Yes, I'm all for studying what one loves, and going for what one wants to do. I supported a kid through a Musical Theater major and the aftermath for years. Also, Classics. Urged kid to just get that degree, even if it was a general Liberal Arts one. I can make arguments on how they still found career paths. But I want to be clear that those who do major in the Humanities and the Social Sciences do not get the higher paying jobs as quickly as those who do in STEM. No judgement or rationalizations or advice. Just hard facts.

Yes, you can't push a poet who hates maths and sciences and tech into being a STEM major and I wouldn't suggest it. I love LACs, love the liberal arts, and in a perfect world, those talented kids coming out with their majors in English, Psych, It is important to have an eye on the job market, however, for those kids who do not have a safety net after college

Because, really, my kids could work minimum wage for a few years, or for less and pursue their dreams. As parents, we could make sure they were covered regarding health care and basic safety needs. Not like those who are so wealthy that their kids live right up there with high earners, but my kids have that safety net.

It was a net I did not have and it was truly a tough grueling life without it. What saved me from daunting poverty, and my parents, younger siblings from having a truly rough life, was that I was a STEM major, and when I went for such jobs, I made enough to pay my loans, live in a reasonable neighborhood (still raunchy but few regular drive by shootings) in a city still considered very dangerous, help out my siblings, and when my father finally took that last turn for the worse, take in my parents and set up my mother for her long widowhood. I couldn't do it with the jobs I preferred.

My son is wishing he had stuck out a STEM major, looking at the very lucrative jobs his classmates snared. He doesn't even have a job he particularly likes. Only one job at that pay level, career path and benefits were left after the long job search rounds. Again, he has parental and sibling safety nets, so what's lacking in pay, he gets in support. He could not have afforded to take this job without it. The relocation package came down to reimbursement of the miles he drove and three nights at a hotel . It cost a heck of a lot more to find a place in a whole new city, and parental and sibling advice guided him through a lot of the issues. One of his peers is having a horrible time with an inadequate paying job (SS major) but with distinct possibilities in an expensive city, where he made some unwise decisions in where he chose to live. He's scared to death of his loan coming due and his parents really can't help out. They are very disappointed at how little he is making after all of those years at an expensive school Yes, he wishes he were a STEM major. Yes, I think things will work out in time for him. But the gauntlet he has to run before getting there is painful.

For those who have a true desire to do certain things in life, it can be worth the rough years to do what one wants. I know many many of such people who are in the poor artists communities here. Incredibly talented, incredibly focused, hard workers, dedicated to their dreams. But they pay the price. They spend a lot of time doing work they hate to get to do what they love. Some who did find marketable skills, like programming, accounting, can find far more lucrative part time work.

My dreams were not strong enough that I had regrets getting living wage work, but the monetary differential in pursuing less STEM directions both now and then. I started a company that was very successful because few people had the STEM skills do do the work-had trouble staffing it for that reason. My market value in my old age is still substantial because of my STEM resume. That I've published some works is worthless these days where the internet and social media gobbles up writing with very little payment if any.

It's a distinct issue for those who need to start off on their feet and running financially to pick some courses, some major that leads to job possiblities quickly. Some do not have the luxury of waiting those years to get developed as they like will be.
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Replies to: Choice of Major Does Impact Jobs

  • rickle1rickle1 1938 replies17 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Another twist on this is we are being far more focused on lower cost schools (than full pay 70k) for D (MT performing arts kid). Reason being is we felt there would be advantages for S in a certain type of school (for career purposes - finance / business) than D. Reality for D will be the long trek of auditions with little financial gain regardless of where she attends. Fortunately there are leading BFA programs that are literally half the cost of the NYUs. We don't want her taking on any debt (including the Stafford loan) as any amount will be difficult to repay. Her brother is taking the Stafford but should have no problem repaying the 27k within a few yrs.

    D is fine with this and understands the sacrifices that lay ahead. She just wants to do what she loves, even if it means subsidizing that with menial work.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78242 replies690 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Yes, I'm all for studying what one loves, and going for what one wants to do. I supported a kid through a Musical Theater major and the aftermath for years. Also, Classics. Urged kid to just get that degree, even if it was a general Liberal Arts one. I can make arguments on how they still found career paths. But I want to be clear that those who do major in the Humanities and the Social Sciences do not get the higher paying jobs as quickly as those who do in STEM. No judgement or rationalizations or advice. Just hard facts.

    Be careful with generalizations about "STEM" majors. The largest STEM major is biology, for which there appears to be an oversupply of graduates relative to the number of major-related jobs.

    https://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/info-Degrees_that_Pay_you_Back-sort.html has some by-major survey results for entry and mid-career pay levels. Although it is from Payscale, whose by-college surveys have various issues, by-major should give much larger sample sizes.

    Starting median pay can obviously be important for those who graduate with student loan debt or whose families are unable to support an extended job search at graduation. Obviously, this may not be as important for those from "upper middle class" (forum definition) families willing to provide assistance in various ways after graduation.

    The mid-career pay levels have various percentiles. Those who do the best (90th percentile) do well from any major. But, at other percentiles, it appears that some majors have a more elite-or-bust characteristic (e.g. drama, music), while others have less variation between various percentiles (e.g. nursing, physician assistant). Some majors have higher floors (10th percentile), but many of these have curricular rigor that weeds out the less strong in school, rather than in the job market after graduation (e.g. various engineering majors).
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  • ProfessorPlum168ProfessorPlum168 4077 replies87 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 6
    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/composing-code-why-musici_b_10714288

    Something to ponder. Back 35 years ago, it was common for music majors to be hired in software. Obtaining the skills and transitioning is nowadays common and pretty easy to do with all these bootcamps.
    edited September 6
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78242 replies690 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I think it's always good for kids to be thinking of post college careers, whatever their major. We are a full pay family, but somehow we communicated the critical necessity of getting a good job after college to our one child that's already graduated. He wasn't a stem major! But chose his major (Real Estate Finance) with a career in mind, and thankfully got a job in that field at a pretty good (certainly self supporting) salary.

    Is a narrowly focused pre-professional major aimed at a job or other post-graduation goal that is fully open to those of other majors a good idea? I.e. it can be limiting as a disadvantage in applying to other jobs, but not necessarily advantageous for the targeted job or other post-graduation goal, so a more general major (with appropriate elective choices) may be a better idea to keep more options open. For example:

    * Real estate finance versus general finance or general business.
    * Sports management versus general business.
    * Computer game design versus computer science.
    * Aerospace engineering versus mechanical engineering.
    * Actuarial science versus math, statistics, or other majors.
    * Preprofessional studies ( https://science.nd.edu/undergraduate/sample-curricula/preprofessional-studies-sample-curriculum/ ) versus any major.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29422 replies58 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    If kid and family have the luxury to wait out most likely longer time to get a good paying job, fine.

    It’s not that the liberal arts, fine arts, performing arts do not teach marketable skills— sales is a great use of acting lessons, for example and most companies seek good writers. But there are more of these grads than STEM and initial pay and initial job offers are not as good as for thisebwhyh STEM and other majors that are sought for immediate high pay job hired. The data is right out there

    Yes, all STEM is not equally marketable. Same with Humanities, arts and Social sciences. There are sub categories that can be exceptions. But overall the statistics are right there.

    I’m not advocating pushing that square peg into a round hole. But it is something to be aware. Especially those kids who need a good job right after college or the consequences are painful. I know too many like that.
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  • cinnamon1212cinnamon1212 438 replies6 threadsRegistered User Member
    ucbalumnus wrote: »
    I think it's always good for kids to be thinking of post college careers, whatever their major. We are a full pay family, but somehow we communicated the critical necessity of getting a good job after college to our one child that's already graduated. He wasn't a stem major! But chose his major (Real Estate Finance) with a career in mind, and thankfully got a job in that field at a pretty good (certainly self supporting) salary.

    Is a narrowly focused pre-professional major aimed at a job or other post-graduation goal that is fully open to those of other majors a good idea? I.e. it can be limiting as a disadvantage in applying to other jobs, but not necessarily advantageous for the targeted job or other post-graduation goal, so a more general major (with appropriate elective choices) may be a better idea to keep more options open. For example:

    * Real estate finance versus general finance or general business.
    * Sports management versus general business.
    * Computer game design versus computer science.
    * Aerospace engineering versus mechanical engineering.
    * Actuarial science versus math, statistics, or other majors.
    * Preprofessional studies ( https://science.nd.edu/undergraduate/sample-curricula/preprofessional-studies-sample-curriculum/ ) versus any major.

    I can only speak for my son, who was focused on real estate development before he got to college, pretty much. I disagree that a generalist would do better. My son landed at the most recognizable investment bank, that according to Vanity Fair is harder to get a job with than it is to get into Harvard. My son did not go to a top 20 college. Maybe not even top 50. I asked him why, then, did they hire him and his answer was that he spoke about his passion for real estate and what he did in his free time, and that they look for people who love what they do because those are the best employees.

    I guess I think the emphasis should be on figuring out what you want to do. I don't have kids interested in the arts, so I don't know what I would do in that scenario where parental support is more important.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78242 replies690 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Rivet2000 wrote: »
    I think that specialization is making it increasingly hard for generalists to compete in the work force.

    That may be more true at mid to late career, where the apparent assumption is that someone with decades of experience has concentrated expertise in some specialty area(s), so generalists need not apply, nor should specialists in some other specialty.
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  • DustyfeathersDustyfeathers 3352 replies77 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    For people majoring in some liberal arts areas, such as history, English, film studies, and the like, finding an obvious first job can be daunting. For my kids I'm advising that they "plan for their day job" and "if you don't plan for your day job, your day job will find you." More practically speaking, my lovely child who is a film-studies major, we have weekly discussions about what hard skills she can pick up before graduating. She has settled on either marketing ideally with a film focus of some sort. She is adding to her resume film-related positions, marketing positions as internships or work, and since her LAC does not offer marketing courses, she's supplementing with MOOCs for free online in digital and social media marketing. Fingers crossed she will be hirable the instant she graduates. My feeling is that coursework, an excellent GPA, and work experience should land her a first job. But we shall see.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34147 replies378 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    D1 didn't "wait it out." She happens to be brilliant at writing a resume, but had the right skills for the work she wanted. And is practical, not a dreamer. Was hired easily and making good money. Majored in classics. No, not Google level money, but darned good. No interim Starbucks or min wage. Tough jobs and the right attitude.

    Look, we can't go on anecdotes alone. Each family presents direction to their kids differently, raises them with their own best version of how to get where they want.

    I think the point of the generalist comment was the broader opportunities, not that specialization is automatically wrong. We see kids on CC all the time who specialize to their disadvantage. Often, with little idea whether the career path they're set on, so young, will truly be interesting to them, a good match, if they do reach it.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29422 replies58 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I know average kids, no brilliant writing, no briliiant resume, and get good paying jobs with a major that is desired. Same group of kids come up nada with a general major. A brilliant kid will find something. Kids with parents helping, supporting have luxury of not finding something soon. Kids without will find a world of difference between a major that is conducive to finding jobs and not.

    Yes, I know STEM is general! Just easier to write than all the frigging exceptions. Though Bio type majors are good base for graduate school courses and health care certificate that can snag a great job without having to take those basic courses to get into them. Good grades needed most of the time.

    I've known a bunch of kids who got no where in being gainfully employed at living independent salaries. Barely making it, especially around here, though many were looking in remote locations as well. Some from Ivy league and USNWR top 20-30 schools and top 10 LACs. The best investment they could make if they can afford it is to get low end job in some industry that needs skilled workers, and then get community college courses for certification. Eventually, they will get high pay job in medical equipments sales, tech, and then segue into management. That degree does eventually float to the top, but not right away, and not without some specialties in those cases. To me, those kids were remarkable, but they couldn't find jobs that pay decently Maybe your kids here are more brilliant. Mine certainly are not. I certainly was not. I needed the specific degrees to get my feet in the door.
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  • Rivet2000Rivet2000 1083 replies2 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    ucbalumnus wrote: »
    Rivet2000 wrote: »
    I think that specialization is making it increasingly hard for generalists to compete in the work force.

    That may be more true at mid to late career, where the apparent assumption is that someone with decades of experience has concentrated expertise in some specialty area(s), so generalists need not apply, nor should specialists in some other specialty.

    I think that specialization is driving that move soon in a career rather than later. Consider CS. On resumes, very few students claim just a degree in CS. Typically, they list a degree in CS specializing in (fill in the blank - games, graphics, theory, systems, etc). Moreover, they typically seek out and apply for their first jobs in their area of expertise leveraged by three or more summers of supporting internships. That's a win for companies as they seek increasingly specific skill sets, but it makes it more difficult for generalists to compete.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78242 replies690 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Yes, I know STEM is general! Just easier to write than all the frigging exceptions.

    Well, biological science is about a third of STEM majors, about as many as all of engineering. In that context, which type of major is the outlier or exception out of STEM majors, biological science or engineering?
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78242 replies690 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I asked him why, then, did they hire him and his answer was that he spoke about his passion for real estate and what he did in his free time, and that they look for people who love what they do because those are the best employees.

    But does showing passion for real estate require a specialty real estate major, or could he have expressed similar passion in a more general major, perhaps with real estate related electives?
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  • blossomblossom 9831 replies9 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Biology- I pity the bio majors.
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  • cinnamon1212cinnamon1212 438 replies6 threadsRegistered User Member
    edited September 6
    ucbalumnus wrote: »
    I asked him why, then, did they hire him and his answer was that he spoke about his passion for real estate and what he did in his free time, and that they look for people who love what they do because those are the best employees.

    But does showing passion for real estate require a specialty real estate major, or could he have expressed similar passion in a more general major, perhaps with real estate related electives?

    No idea :-) I do know my son's job requires a specific skill set, and that one of his profs texted a screenshot of his final exam in a very specific course to a connection at the bank, which implies specificity. He would never have gotten the job focusing only real estate; finance maybe, but unlikely as he's in the bank's real estate division.

    This thread has got me thinking -- how *did* we convey our views about post graduation employment, and about majors? Our second son is very different from the first and doesn't have a clear direction. We spent at least 10 hours together this summer (between his freshman and sophomore year in college) doing the exercises in "What Color Is Your Parachute?". It was really useful and has got my son thinking of a few directions he can go. If I had to take a guess, I would say he might major in psychology, a very general major! But with that, one could attend medical school, become a sports psychologist, or teach at a prep school, which right now are the top 3 contenders for a career. In this example, a psychology major with no clue about what you would do with it is a bad idea. But with a general plan (that could be completely changed!) I think it's a good major. It's not so much the major as the plan.

    Even though we are not poor, my kids don't have the option/luxury of figuring it out later. (Understanding that sometimes there are good reasons for that etc)

    What is my point? I guess this: that I would focus on post graduation career -- in a gentle way -- even before starting college, and certainly in the first year or two of college, vs focusing only on one kind of major.
    edited September 6
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