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Old 11-03-2017, 10:35 AM
 
Location: WI
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https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/03/e...ge-major.html?

Interesting New York Times article today. Touches on a lot of the discussion that's been happening in this forum lately.

It's a myth that your major matters more than where you go to school. Half of students at the 1800 less-selective colleges are in career-focused majors, compared to fewer than one-quarter at the 78 most selective schools. And they earn a lot less over their lifetimes.
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Old 11-04-2017, 01:34 AM
 
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What if the students in less-selective colleges choose a "useless" major? Will they be more successful than they are?
What the comparison between MIT computer science students vs Stanford arts students?
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Old 11-04-2017, 05:00 PM
 
Location: Oregon, formerly Texas
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Yes I saw that article. I very much agree with the sentiment that our conception of "majors" is too restrictive. Majors are based on the academic taxonomy of disciplines, which is a system that's almost 150 years old.

I like the idea of "meta-majors," although I don't like that term. "Majors" in the traditional sense are more suited to Master's and PhD's.
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Old 11-04-2017, 11:01 PM
 
Location: Sandpoint, Idaho
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What matters more than anything are the details of the courses taken, how they are put together, how they were applied in research and in business and the character of the person in how they were enlightened by their course of study. Just because person X majors in Y at Z university is meaningless on its own. One can do the minimum coursework at a mediocre level and come out fairly ignorant from an Ivy League school or one can pursue a serious course of study at a Third World University is be quite the catch.
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Old 11-05-2017, 01:08 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redguard57 View Post
Yes I saw that article. I very much agree with the sentiment that our conception of "majors" is too restrictive. Majors are based on the academic taxonomy of disciplines, which is a system that's almost 150 years old.

I like the idea of "meta-majors," although I don't like that term. "Majors" in the traditional sense are more suited to Master's and PhD's.
I think American universities are already quite "liberal" with the curricula. Besides some core courses, a student has a lot of choices.
For some majors, the core courses are a big burden, but they are often necessary. If you just touch a lot of things without depth, you basically cannot work in certain fields directly.
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Old 11-05-2017, 07:51 AM
 
Location: Plano, TX
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Originally Posted by Bettafish View Post
What if the students in less-selective colleges choose a "useless" major? Will they be more successful than they are?
What the comparison between MIT computer science students vs Stanford arts students?
Granted, I didn't go to MIT, but I don't think they have a "Computer Science" major, I believe it was/is "EECS".

I don't think any of these reports can really take into account all situations and the situations that apply to your case (or your friend's case, etc.). Obviously, if the hiring manager is a Telugu from Andra Pradesh and you're Chinese, you're not getting the job even if you have a Ph.D. in EECS from MIT.

Silicon Valley seems to be filled with plenty of people in tech with "soft" majors from schools like Berkeley and Stanford who would get preference in many instances over "Computer Science" majors from flyover universities like UIUC, Texas, Georgia Tech, Wisconsin-Madison, etc.

The situation seems to be worse amongst Asians than Whites, but "tech" definitely seems to be getting less "technical". The old school nerds who had a passion for science and engineering have been overtaken by the white hipsters and brogrammers, and the status-conscious name-focused Asians.

An individual who likes science and engineering, and did they own work, in general, is going to care more about somebody having a rigorous related major from a respectable school/program; They typically are more likely to like the work and not want to fix the problems of what many of they deem as "stupid or lazy people". Somebody that cut corners is more focused on pedigree, "cultural fit", "name", and doesn't like what they're doing is going to care more about hiring for similar traits.
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Old 11-05-2017, 08:06 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by compSciGuy View Post
Granted, I didn't go to MIT, but I don't think they have a "Computer Science" major, I believe it was/is "EECS".

I don't think any of these reports can really take into account all situations and the situations that apply to your case (or your friend's case, etc.). Obviously, if the hiring manager is a Telugu from Andra Pradesh and you're Chinese, you're not getting the job even if you have a Ph.D. in EECS from MIT.

Silicon Valley seems to be filled with plenty of people in tech with "soft" majors from schools like Berkeley and Stanford who would get preference in many instances over "Computer Science" majors from flyover universities like UIUC, Texas, Georgia Tech, Wisconsin-Madison, etc.

The situation seems to be worse amongst Asians than Whites, but "tech" definitely seems to be getting less "technical". The old school nerds who had a passion for science and engineering have been overtaken by the white hipsters and brogrammers, and the status-conscious name-focused Asians.

An individual who likes science and engineering, and did they own work, in general, is going to care more about somebody having a rigorous related major from a respectable school/program; They typically are more likely to like the work and not want to fix the problems of what many of they deem as "stupid or lazy people". Somebody that cut corners is more focused on pedigree, "cultural fit", "name", and doesn't like what they're doing is going to care more about hiring for similar traits.

Interesting insight into your observations with Silicon Valley.

Although very few fields (none?) are purely merit-based, science fields, especially at the the post-graduate level, seemed more heavily merit-based than most. The brand name of the school itself mattered less than the actual quality of the scientific work produced, whether it was from someone who graduated from Ivy league coastal schools or "flyover country" state schools.

Would hate to see the field also succumb to the "connections and brand name" dependency of other fields.

Last edited by mingna; 11-05-2017 at 08:14 AM..
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Old 11-06-2017, 01:05 AM
 
6,762 posts, read 9,745,278 times
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I'd have to dig the article up that referred to a study on school rankings and salaries. It is true that those who go to more prestigious schools tend to earn more, but that only shows correlation and not causation. There was a study that found that aptitude is more important than where you go to school. More selective colleges just tend to have students who are smarter. When you compare students at highly-ranked colleges with students with similar SAT scores who went to lower ranking schools for whatever reason, their earnings are about the same.

There were a couple of comments under the article that pointed out a pretty significant error in the advice given. Only a small fraction of students will get into the top schools, so telling future college students that college choice is more important than major is almost useless. The vast majority will not attend top schools, so why not present data on how much choice of major matters to them?

Last edited by L210; 11-06-2017 at 01:28 AM..
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Old 11-09-2017, 12:19 PM
 
Location: Alexander Archipelago
2,803 posts, read 1,497,897 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by L210 View Post
...More selective colleges just tend to have students who are smarter. When you compare students at highly-ranked colleges with students with similar SAT scores who went to lower ranking schools for whatever reason, their earnings are about the same...
Makes sense. Also, in general I believe students at the highly ranked schools have a stronger work ethic.

Either they're naturally inclined that way or they develop it from constantly being pushed in that direction by a rigorous curriculum.
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Old 11-09-2017, 05:23 PM
 
Location: Oregon, formerly Texas
5,242 posts, read 3,395,295 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by L210 View Post
I'd have to dig the article up that referred to a study on school rankings and salaries. It is true that those who go to more prestigious schools tend to earn more, but that only shows correlation and not causation. There was a study that found that aptitude is more important than where you go to school. More selective colleges just tend to have students who are smarter. When you compare students at highly-ranked colleges with students with similar SAT scores who went to lower ranking schools for whatever reason, their earnings are about the same.

There were a couple of comments under the article that pointed out a pretty significant error in the advice given. Only a small fraction of students will get into the top schools, so telling future college students that college choice is more important than major is almost useless. The vast majority will not attend top schools, so why not present data on how much choice of major matters to them?
Even that data can be misleading.

Someone choosing a major is not an empty vessel waiting to be filled. They already have pre-existing interests, preferences, aptitudes, strengths, and weaknesses.

At one time time I thought it might be a good idea for me to go back to school for nursing, since they make good money and are in demand. My wife pointed out that based on my intelligence level and work ethic, I could get through a nursing program. However, based on my personality and pre-existing skill-set, I would make a terrible nurse. I probably wouldn't get hired based on my attitude, which is not one suited for the that part of the medical field. Even if I did get hired, I would probably not last long in the job. She was right.
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