NYT Article - You Don’t Want a Child Prodigy

Read this interesting article this morning - https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/24/opinion/sunday/kids-sports-music-choices.html?login=email&auth=login-email&login=email&auth=login-email. It discusses the pros of not specializing early and exposing children to a wide range of activities. It’s rather topical to me as DS19, a bit of a Renaissance Man, just opted to forgo a top ranked Engineering program for a degree in the Physical Sciences. I was hoping initially that he would go for Engineering due to the more direct career prospects, but the program structure is very restrictive and doesn’t leave very much room for electives (or at least the way the programs are structured here in Canada). With a science degree he will have much more leeway to explore other courses of interest, and he has many. Despite the likely longer educational path (he’ll most likely need at least as Master’s degree if not a Ph.D.) I think it is the better pathway for him.

Your choices are also far more affordable in Canada. A second degree, even at full pay, is still very cheap.

@roycroftmom very true but the engineering program he was accepted to would have cost almost $30,000/yr including housing. For an undergrad program in Canada that’s really high. Tuition/fees/books are generally in the $10,000 range for Arts & Sciences degrees. It’s the housing costs that really add up.

Seems like in Canada, a large percentage of people live within commuting range of at least one of the best known Canadian universities, so they (or their kids) can attend without the higher housing costs (compared to the lower living-at-home and commuting costs). But there is also a lot of Canada that is remote where there is no possibility of commuting to a university.

@ucbalumnus that is very true. We personally live within commuting distance of 3 top universities in addition to 2-3 additional mid-tier schools. The school DS19 ended up choosing is a 40 minute drive in good traffic so he certainly could stay home and commute. Dh and I both attended university away and it’s an experience we’ve both wanted for our kids (and are fortunate to be able to afford to give them). I was actually a little disappointed that DS19 didn’t choose to stretch himself more out of his comfort zone and go further away. The other school he was considering with the engineering program is about a 3 hours drive from home. It will certainly save us a fair amount of money that he has chosen not to attend, and he may choose to commute after a couple of years saving even more which will help with the cost of any subsequent degrees.

Interesting article. I generally agree with the sentiments.

Regarding engineering programs, when my oldest child was looking at those programs, I was struck by how limited the education was for the ABET certified programs. I suppose its viewed as a necessary evil from the point of view of the faculty and possibly the recruiters. But there is precious little time left over to explore extraneous interests.

We had a family member graduate from an upper tier private school with an accounting degree, and I had the same feeling about that program. Too much specialization and not enough electives. I know the employers need a minimum level of competence, but years ago you could sit for the CPA exam with many fewer hours than is required now. In fact, today you need to have a Masters degree in accounting, so it takes an extra year. And that’s after spending your entire undergrad in a limiting program.

Regarding the article, I do think that some of the examples are a bit misleading, or misplaced a bit, perhaps. Tiger Woods had the personal drive to do what he did, and he obviously wanted to do it. There are lots of kids who are given kids golf clubs at very early ages who just don’t care about getting better, or just don’t enjoy it. He’s a serious outlier.

The Federer generalist example is also a little misleading. Some people are so remarkably able that they are going to be able make transitions quite seamlessly. They may not get to world number 1 in a range of activities, but they certainly have the physical and intellectual ability to be highly competitive in anything they choose. For those people, trying a variety of activities maximizes the chance that they’ll find the thing that they were “meant” to do. Federer certainly seemed to. :slight_smile:

Is this meant to be applicable to college aged people? Specializing at age 4 is very different than specializing at 18.

Re: #5

Engineering is a high volume subject, so a bachelor’s degree in it consumes more of a four year program than many other majors. Some have proposed making engineering a post-bachelor’s professional degree, but that would reduce accessibility to the subject due to increased costs.

Getting extra electives in by 3+2 programs, or voluntary extra years at a community college before transferring to finish a bachelor’s degree is possible, but may not be popular.

Regarding accounting, there has been a 150 credit requirement for some time, but the subject requirements and typical general education do not actually consume more than 120 credits. Perhaps it is credential creep?

Perhaps the highest volume subject at the bachelor’s level is architecture, where a BArch program is normally five years.

I got past the firewall and read the full article. As long as students feel like they can move, I would think starting in almost any major is fine. It does seem that engineering is quite restrictive. However, an engineering major could likely transition to physics or math if that it was they decided to do. One reason I like my son’s college choice is because many current students at admitted students day spoke about how their trajectory changed while at college based on coops and participation in undergraduate research.

I think it depends on the engineering program. D’s university took so many AP courses that she has room in her schedule for electives she really wants to take. That was a consideration for her when making up her college list.

@momofsenior1 at the schools DS19 applied to the engineering programs only accept minimal AP credits and then mostly for non-major requirements. Since engineering programs have very few non-major requirements AP credits don’t go far. Add to that the general recommendation not to accept AP credit for courses required for your major so that even if you could get credit for them, most would not.

Such a “general recommendation”, though apparently popular on these forums, could mean that some students will waste time and tuition repeating what they already know. If the university allows advanced placement with AP scores, the student should consider taking it. The student can make a more informed decision by trying the university’s old final exams for the courses that are allowed to be skipped.

@dadx, at least when it comes to accounting, while you need 150 credit hours to sit for the CPA (and should be prepared for it), there’s no need to actually major in accounting as an undergrad. You could major in something else as an undergrad and then get a masters in accounting (so long as you are adequately prepared for the accounting masters and CPA).

Other career-focused majors like engineering/nursing/architecture are different stories.

The 150 credit requirement for CPA licensing does not seem to be needed to cover a high volume of subject requirements. For example:

https://www.calcpa.org/cpa-career-center/cpa-requirements (bachelor’s degree, 150 credits, with 24 in accounting and 24 in business)
http://www.tsbpa.state.tx.us/exam-qualification/examination-requirements.html (bachelor’s degree, 150 credits, with 30 in accounting and 24 in business)

The 48-54 credit subject requirements in accounting and business look like they would fit easily within a 120 credit bachelor’s degree with plenty of space left for other course work (lower level prerequisites, general education, free electives). So the 150 credit minimum seems superfluous. Since a master’s degree is not actually required, could someone who has a bachelor’s degree and all of the subject requirements fulfilled just take any courses at low cost community colleges to complete the remaining 30 credits? Or could AP/IB credit from high school be helpful here?

@ucbalumnus I’m not sure I understand your question, but my son had enough AP credits (over 50) that he didn’t need to stay a 5th year for the master’s degree and had well over 150 credit hrs at graduation…2 degrees (Finance and Accounting), a minor (Technology and Management) and an enjoyable, low stress semester abroad. He’s taking the CPA exams this summer and as a financial consultant it was not a condition for his employment.

Several friends completed their bachelor’s degree in 3 years with AP credit. Then completed their master’s during their 4th year on campus.

One question is, why does CPA licensing require 150 credits when the typical subject requirements can be completed (with room to spare) within a 120 credit bachelor’s degree program?

The other question is, wouldn’t most aspiring CPAs try to get the extra 30 credits as cheaply as possible (using AP/IB credit or community college courses, rather than a more expensive master’s degree program)?

@ucbalumnus, CC credit and AP credit both seem like they are allowed to meet the 150 credit-hours requirement for the CPA.

It could just be a hurdle, like any other hurdle.

And many kids do not choose the cheapest course of option for many reasons.

Natural talent is the necessary ingredient to ultimately propel one’s triumph at an elite level in any field. Tiger parenting is often counterproductive. Different kids are talented in different ways and different areas. Let them discover their own talents and then nurture them.

If you substitute “very good” for “best known”, the same is true in the U.S. Most people have very good colleges within commuting distance, but we view college as much more than just school and put a lot of importance on “fit” and “the college experience.”

@Johnny523 “fit” is generally less of a consideration when choosing post-secondary school’s in Canada. Most are public institutions and generally similar. For many it’s more about perceived prestige (I say perceived because very few programs/schools here are truly prestigious at the undergraduate level) but for most it’s about just having the stats to be admitted. I however have been following posts on CC for a few years now and fully admit to drinking the fit and college experience Kool-Aid. :slight_smile: