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What did you study in college and what would be your advice to your kids going back to school now?

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Would you pick the same major this time around?

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Degree in geography, and while it led me into real estate development / construction management (which I do love), I would have preferred business.  It can be applied to just about any discipline/industry.  

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Bartend for a year, drive taxi/uber for a year, then go apprentice to a plumber or electrician. If you still want to go to college after that exposure to life have at it.

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As far as major, I'd say something having to do with computers such comp sci.   Speaking from experience, the money is good, the opportunities are plentiful and you start earning pretty good money right after you graduate without any additional schooling required.    In general, I'd say like life in general, find balance.    Its some of the best years of your life and its unlike anytime you'll experience beyond that, but remember you're there all to get an education and if you do it right you're going to put yourself in a really good position for the rest of your life.

Edited by NutterButter

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Mechanical Engineering

I’d probably do it again, my other career choice would have been teaching

 

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12 minutes ago, Long Ball Larry said:

my advice is to try to figure out who you are and what you want and keep as many options open within reason

Agreed

If I were to do it over again, I'd probably keep my second major. 

I started pre-med. Wanted to be a veterinarian. I failed zoology and gave up. 

Moved on to Urban planning, I enjoyed it. Would have made it a career. (Although I gave a lot of thought to being a park ranger) But went ROTC and had a job lined up as an Army officer. They don't do urban planning, so I changed to political science as it was easier and classes fit the schedule better. Also, I wanted to become a lawyer and thought that made sense. 

I don't know if I'd ever use urban planning in my career, but there's a big part of me that would love to be a city manager or something along those lines. Not mayor, but a part of the behind the scenes crew who got #### done. 

Advice to my kids - find what you like, keep trying different things until you find the match. Then work the hell out of it.

Edited by -OZ-
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never even applied. my only regret is that i never learned to sleep two to a dorm bed, the only useful skill some of my contemporaries took from their college careers

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I majored in Sleeping Two To A Dorm Bed. After graduation, I slept around a bit, but didn't find much success. 

Thus, I went back to get an MS in Chemical Engineering. After this graduation, I got a job designing lubes for a sex toy company. 

Without my undergraduate knowledge, I doubt I would have my current success. 

My advice to the young'ns: lube up and go with the flow. 

 

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I’m degreed in construction management, great career choice. I am slowly trying to brainwash my 13 and 14 yr old “Gifted” kids to Enter the trades against my wife’s wishes. 
 

ive met a lot, and I mean a LOT of self made multi millionaires With a HS diploma and trade experience.  And many whose kids have inherited the biz. With my knowledge and connections I could make their start easier. 
 

it makes so much sense it will likely never happen.  the construction industry top to bottom is seeing major personnel shortages nationwide in trades and mgmt. 

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1 hour ago, boofatty said:

I’m degreed in construction management, great career choice. I am slowly trying to brainwash my 13 and 14 yr old “Gifted” kids to Enter the trades against my wife’s wishes. 
 

ive met a lot, and I mean a LOT of self made multi millionaires With a HS diploma and trade experience.  And many whose kids have inherited the biz. With my knowledge and connections I could make their start easier. 
 

it makes so much sense it will likely never happen.  the construction industry top to bottom is seeing major personnel shortages nationwide in trades and mgmt. 

I think most people fail to recognize that the trades option is not about creating just an income.  It's about the opportunity to create a business. A highly scalable, lucrative, growth business.

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The other nice thing about the trades is many of them still offer a pension plan. If you get in early you can make more money than you would almost anywhere else and you can retire early with great pay and full benefits. 

 

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Computer engineering.  Yes would study again. My advice to my kids, if they’re at all STEM inclined, would be to go into engineering — either computers or biotech. 
 

Why?

Theyre hard, and people are generally lazy, so anytime you can thin the herd of people you compete with for jobs, that’s a good thing. 
They’re also going to be critical disciplines during their lifetimes. 
And they leave lots of options — stay in science, start ups, teach, law, medicine, business. A good foundation for lots of professions. 

Edited by Otis
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I was an electrical engineering major and based by college career on getting a job in the electric utility industry (my dad was a lineman).  It's been a solid, sustainable career.  I went from making $27k in 1986 to low-level FBG numbers now.

Based on what my alma mater does now for my major, I probably couldn't hack it. :lol: 

If you're an engineer, the field is wide open and opportunities can be had and careers made.

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10 hours ago, Long Ball Larry said:

my advice is to try to figure out who you are and what you want and keep as many options open within reason

This.  And pay attention to what subjects, projects and tasks you enjoy doing enough to do for 75,000-100,000 professional hours.

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Materials and Logistics management, which has now been renamed supply chain management.

And yep..I still think that's a great career path.  Lots and lots of jobs in that field.

My advice..do not schedule early morning classes your freshman year, you will have a very hard time making them

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I have a degree in accounting and now own my own commodities trading business where I do my own accounting.  Would I do it all over again?  I'd probably do what my Dad suggested and spend 4 years in the military, taking time to see the world before pursuing a degree.

If I'm able to 'retire' before 50, I may pursue a degree in psychology.  

Edited by Captain Cranks
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Unless I want a career that requires a specific education, I'd be flexible on the major. My degree is business mgt with a finance concentration, but for the last 30+ years most of my positions have been as quality engineer or quality manager for computer hardware, semiconductor, military or medical device companies. Been through more than my share of layoffs and plant closings, but I think the variety is good as I'm typically bored or frustrated after 3-4 years anyway. Worked with plenty of people who made decent money in those areas with degrees in history, english, music etc., as well as the more expected engineering, business etc. degrees.

Certificates can help, though they can be expensive to maintain. I'm old enough to no longer worry about it, but I've gotten, and allowed to expire, certs that apply directly (e.g. from ASQ) and indirectly (e.g. from APICS). These have been helpful and once I was told by a boss that he hired me because I was the only candidate who was a CQE.

Worked for a company where the only salaried person I knew of w/o a degree was the president.
My neighbor is a millionaire. Doesn't have a degree. Owns a construction business and is a shrewd, hardworking man. Also very generous with friends and family.
My nephew doesn't have a degree. Learned coding in a Linux environment. Makes very good money.

Degree or not, I think most would benefit from at least a basic understanding of most of the MS Office products, reading a balance sheet and P&L statement, a little bit of stats.

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I never went to college.

I am in the midst of looking for a college with my daughter. She is super smart and hard working. I mean that for real it's not just a dad boasting, although I am not opposed to that. We just found out she is number 10 in a class of around 300. Anyway I feel she could go to college do well and earn good pay. In my mind these are typically engineers, lawyers, doctors etc....

My daughter wants to go to an arts college and do sound/lighting engineering?

At first this really bothered me. I thought WTF, you could really make it here with a good profession. Like I said I have never been to college but thanks to hard work, tenacity, grace, and being at the right place at the right time I have done ok. While financially we are ok just barely but I see it will be better in the next 10 years as I am close to paying off the mortgage and a few cars. Having said all that I am really not very happy at my job. I know that what I do is not what I was meant to do but out of necessity I made it work.

This brings me back to my genius daughter. I have told her to follow her dreams and if that is sound engineering or light engineering then do it. Regardless of potential earnings in other fields. It is much more important to be happy.

I have recently been around some VERY rich people and they are not close to happy. They may be more miserable then me. 

I feel like I am starting to ramble here but I think you know what I am trying to say.

I would like the know how its possible to cost $57,000.00 to go to an arts school for one year? While I said we are doing ok financially its not $57,000.00 a year for school ok. We are currently looking for scholarships to help her get where she wants.

* I do want to say I don't know what sound and lighting engineers make. It's quite possible I am naive and they do very well. Finding that out is on my list of things to do.

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I studied political science.  Pretty much fell into it as I was directionless for the first couple of years.  By the time came to declare a major, I looked back and noticed I had taken a lot of poli sci classes already so I just moved into it.  Decided I wanted to work on campaigns, ended up interning for a state senator, was exposed to how politics really works, and it disillusioned me to politics.  Dropped out less than a year before graduating and got a job at a bank.  21 years later I dread going to work every day because I hate my job.

My only advise to my kids is to find something you enjoy.  Who cares about money, it doesn't buy happiness.  Find something you love to do so you do more with your life than die a little bit everyday.

As it stands, my older son wants to go into teaching (and to be a high school coach).

My younger son currently is thinking poli sci undergrad, and then going to law school.

Both have changed their minds numerous times, but as long as they have a direction, I'm good with it.

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I went to school for Criminal Justice.  And, no, I would not do it again if possible.

I tell my daughter, who is about ready to begin her college choosing process, DO NOT pick a specialized degree.  Pick something general that will work if you change your mind later down the road.  I should have just taken a computer related degree.  

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I recently filled out a survey from the certification board of my profession. The last question was- Would you go into this profession again ? 

My answer was an emphatic no.

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7 minutes ago, prosopis said:

I never went to college.

I am in the midst of looking for a college with my daughter. She is super smart and hard working. I mean that for real it's not just a dad boasting, although I am not opposed to that. We just found out she is number 10 in a class of around 300. Anyway I feel she could go to college do well and earn good pay. In my mind these are typically engineers, lawyers, doctors etc....

My daughter wants to go to an arts college and do sound/lighting engineering?

At first this really bothered me. I thought WTF, you could really make it here with a good profession. Like I said I have never been to college but thanks to hard work, tenacity, grace, and being at the right place at the right time I have done ok. While financially we are ok just barely but I see it will be better in the next 10 years as I am close to paying off the mortgage and a few cars. Having said all that I am really not very happy at my job. I know that what I do is not what I was meant to do but out of necessity I made it work.

This brings me back to my genius daughter. I have told her to follow her dreams and if that is sound engineering or light engineering then do it. Regardless of potential earnings in other fields. It is much more important to be happy.

I have recently been around some VERY rich people and they are not close to happy. They may be more miserable then me. 

I feel like I am starting to ramble here but I think you know what I am trying to say.

I would like the know how its possible to cost $57,000.00 to go to an arts school for one year? While I said we are doing ok financially its not $57,000.00 a year for school ok. We are currently looking for scholarships to help her get where she wants.

* I do want to say I don't know what sound and lighting engineers make. It's quite possible I am naive and they do very well. Finding that out is on my list of things to do.

All good points.  And money cannot buy happiness, that much is certain.  But on the whole, I think if you give the average person a choice between having lots of money or very little money, it’s a pretty easy choice.  Money can give you security in life, and options; it can open up doors; it can add conveniences.  No, it can’t buy happiness, but it can do a lot of little things on the fringe.  And without it, life can be a whole lot harder.

So I’ll be pushing my kids to do something practical/lucrative first and foremost.  In other words, don’t pick the thing you love the most (much as I dreamt of being an NBA player or replacing Slash in GnR, I was smart enough — and more so my parents practical enough — to not let me stumble down those paths) — rather, pick the most lucrative/practical thing that you enjoy.  Sure I’d rather be doing a lot of other things on any given day I’m doing my job, and it is far from a “passion” of mine — and some days my job feels miserable, like anyone else’s — but on the whole it’s pretty good, the pay is good, the opportunities are good, and it allows me to provide well for my family and do some fun things I otherwise couldn’t.  

Just one guy’s take.  I’ve never really bought into the “follow your dreams!, do whatever you’re most passionate about!!” shtick to a clueless 16 or 18 year old.

 

 

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Me: Civil Engineering

My recommendation: Computer Science / Data Science

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My friends daughter gets all of her tuition paid because she’s “homeless”. It’s ducking ridiculous. 
 

So if you’re a colossal cheapskate and  have no shame, that’s an option. 

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Anthropology/Geography

I have worked professionally in both areas of study (still do). 
 

People are idiots so any trade should serve kids well today plus the potential for less to no school loans. I was told one of the best trades to get into is medical furniture. Like dentist seats and the like. You can make big bucks knowing how to fix those things.

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5 minutes ago, Otis said:

All good points.  And money cannot buy happiness, that much is certain.  But on the whole, I think if you give the average person a choice between having lots of money or very little money, it’s a pretty easy choice.  Money can give you security in life, and options; it can open up doors; it can add conveniences.  No, it can’t buy happiness, but it can do a lot of little things on the fringe.  And without it, life can be a whole lot harder.

So I’ll be pushing my kids to do something practical/lucrative first and foremost.  In other words, don’t pick the thing you love the most (much as I dreamt of being an NBA player or replacing Slash in GnR, I was smart enough — and more so my parents practical enough — to not let me stumble down those paths) — rather, pick the most lucrative/practical thing that you enjoy.  Sure I’d rather be doing a lot of other things on any given day I’m doing my job, and it is far from a “passion” of mine — and some days my job feels miserable, like anyone else’s — but on the whole it’s pretty good, the pay is good, the opportunities are good, and it allows me to provide well for my family and do some fun things I otherwise couldn’t.  

Just one guy’s take.  I’ve never really bought into the “follow your dreams!, do whatever you’re most passionate about!!” shtick to a clueless 16 or 18 year old.

 

 

I agree with much of this. I also feel it is very individual. The thing about my daughter is she is not a clueless 17 year old. This sound and lighting thing is not something that just popped up. She has been into this since she was little. She was messing around with old camcorders and what not from a very early age, I just thought that's cute, all kids like to see themselves on the tv but she kept rolling with it and it was more then just seeing herself on the tv.  

Bottom line is I just don't know and I am hoping for the best. Which is pretty much what we are all doing, whether we admit it or not.

Now if she came to me with replacing slash in GNR I would say GTFO with that.

Just using my life lessons I am also a proponent of just telling her to get on the train of life. Hopefully you will get off at the right stop when it comes. So much is being in the right place at the right time and being somewhat prepared for it. My entire life can be summed up by that philosophy. I have been homeless, crazy, did the bad stuff but I am where I am now due to some very fortunate stops on my train and I took the chances.

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Information technology.  My kids went child education (she's a teacher) and structural engineering (he's doing well in that field).  If I were asked for advice from a high school student who is looking for a path, I'd say economics or finance.  

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1 hour ago, Tom Servo said:

I was an electrical engineering major and based by college career on getting a job in the electric utility industry (my dad was a lineman).  It's been a solid, sustainable career.  I went from making $27k in 1986 to low-level FBG numbers now.

Based on what my alma mater does now for my major, I probably couldn't hack it. :lol: 

If you're an engineer, the field is wide open and opportunities can be had and careers made.

Also an EE from our alma mater, and honestly I don’t see what the point was.  I could count the good professors on one hand.

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Went to school for business. Been pretty much in sales or marketing most of my life.

Spent about 6 years in the trades as an independent contractor doing all forms of remodeling. I should have been a tradesman my whole career. If I had to do it all over again I'd be an electrician.

When I was a teenager I really had no mentors to help guide me along a path. Back then it was all about: go to college, go to college, go to college. My mom was basically a single mom - my dad was around but he died when I was 17. And he would beat the college drum anyway.

My whole career path has been a mess and I'm paying for those decisions now as I hit 50 this year. But that's life.

I tell my kids: do what makes you happy where you can still make a good living. All options are open for them. They are diligent savers now, and my oldest is 14. I tell them all the time:

"I just want you to be better than me."

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Sorry in advance for getting a little more long-winded than previous posts.

When I decided to go to college, it was out of fear of ending up in a dead-end job in which I'd come home from work physically exhausted with dirt under my fingernails that I could never fully get rid of, as well as a limited, IGNORANT view of the world around me.  I equated college learning with wisdom, but have since learned that simply wasn't true, and as much as feel I benefitted from going to college, I also can't help but wonder about how I would have turned out if I had skipped college and either done 20 years in the military or pursued a trade instead.  The thing is, I'm not against education, it's just that in this age, it's easier to educate oneself than it ever has been.  My mother framed the concept of higher learning when I was young; she equated college to becoming more well-rounded as a person and never mentioned money as a goal of getting a degree.  That made sense to me then and to an extent makes sense to me now. I know too many people who have degrees that have no bearing on what they do for a living, myself included, and something about that doesn't sit right with me.

After 2 semesters of community college, I was so discouraged I was ready to give up on college altogether. Almost going into the army was a wake-up call, so I went back feeling a little more determined but still not sure what to pursue.  I really liked my first experience with philosophy, so I made that my major when I transferred to a 4-year school, but I couldn't get the hang of ethics, so I switched majors to another field that I was 'interested' in-Speech/Communications.  Since I didn't take any languages in HS, I was also working on the required 12 credits of a foreign language, and while waiting for one of my Spanish classes to start, I saw a flyer on the wall that said "LEARN SPANISH IN SPAIN".  Without any previous thought, I decided I would apply, and if I was accepted I would have to change my major, as the gravity of the situation made me think that was the right move.  I was accepted for the Fall of '89 semester, so I switched majors, to Spanish Language and Literature.  I never have done anything related to this major, but my B.A. degree was 'a foot in the door' for a wide variety of jobs.

When my kids got into HS and the subject of college came up, I told them one thing that I had never heard growing up: Do something you love doing and you never work a day in your life. My older boy, who inherited my lack of educational discipline, still hasn't figured out what he wants to do 4 years after graduating HS.  My second son, who is better adjusted socially than me or my older boy, went straight into college, albeit because he was recruited there to play baseball, and has had to change majors, because while he has always been a hard worker, he also isn't really much of a scholar, so he didn't really have the foundation to stick with a fairly heavy major (biology).TBH, if it wasn't for him playing ball, I would probably have tried to encourage him to go the trade route.  He's strong, energetic, works hard and has a certain 'charisma' that makes folks gravitate to him and I believe will open doors for him. My daughter graduates HS this Spring, and she's already planning on going to college, which I support as she's always been more of a scholar than either of my boys, and arguably smarter as well.

I guess the bottom line is that I believe even though having a college degree is a worthy accomplishment, it's not the only way to fulfillment in life, it's certainly not the only measure of one's intelligence and certainly not the only way to financial success.

 

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31 minutes ago, ChiefD said:

If I had to do it all over again I'd be an electrician.

If I was going to recommend a trade it would be electrician. You also see old electricians no so much with other trades.

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Me 30 years ago: Systems Analysis (Computer Science)

Recommend now: Big Data (Computer Science) 

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1 hour ago, prosopis said:

a good profession. Like I said I have never been to college but thanks to hard work, tenacity, grace, and being at the right place at the right time I have done ok. While financially we are ok just barely but I see it will be better in the next 10 years as I am close to paying off the mortgage and a few cars. Having said all that I am really not very happy at my job. I know that what I do is not what I was meant to do but out of necessity I made it work.

This brings me back to my genius daughter. I have told her to follow her dreams and if that is sound engineering or light engineering then do it. Regardless of potential earnings in other fields. It is much more important to be happy.

 

I think that the answer is in between these.  In the end, the goal should be to have the most enjoyable life you can.  The word "enjoyable" is certainly relative, but I think that it generally comes down to having a day-to-day that has more positive than negative and also being in a position to continually increase that spread between positive and negative.  For some people, that means making sure they have plenty of money and security.  For others, that means feeling like they are valued and/or what they are doing has meaning.  For others, that means being intellectually stimulated.  For others, that means preventing a lot of stress.

So I think that fundamentally, you need to do something that you like or at least figure out how to orient your life to extract the positive (like if you don't like your job, getting something of value out of it that you can truly appreciate).  And I think that being in that kind of situation is more likely to propel you to work harder and be more committed and hopefully continue an upward spiral.  Though at the same time, hard work and tenacity are really important and sometimes come from doing things that we don't like.  It sounds like a stupid, old man cliche, but there is really is truth in trying to obtain grit.  And having that grit will also help you to fully achieve in the things that you do want to do.  (ok, I guess I'm officially old now.)

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12 hours ago, Long Ball Larry said:

my advice is to try to figure out who you are and what you want and keep as many options open within reason

Yep. What do you want to do? Will that provide the means for you to live the life you want to live? You don't need to answer those questions at age 18, but you should have a better idea by 20 or so. And if you still don't know then pursue a catch-all option with the expectations of developing something more specialized later.

My degree is in business and I have mixed feelings about my Masters of Accountancy because it's pigeon holed me when pursuing anything external, but I got it for free so I kinda want to punch myself for complaining about it. I'm also now in a role that encourages me to not do accounting outside of my baseline work. About 80% of my job is still on tasks that most reading this probably loathe (forecasting/modeling, budgeting), but it's interesting to me and it at least provides job security here. Trying to leave though.

My oldest isn't going into any trades. He's college bound. His skills, strengths, weaknesses, traits, etc. are not a fit for any of them. The younger two? We'll see. College isn't for everyone.

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I graduated with a degree in political science and a minor in English. 

I don’t have kids—but if I did—I’d tell them to study whatever they loved. With that said—I’d tell them to do that with the caveat that they also learn proper computer and communication skills.  I just feel like decent computer and communication skills are foundational for success in virtually any career choice. 

Edited by jvdesigns2002

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Knowing what I do now, I wouldn't have studied sport management. I would actually go to a trade school, and I tell my kids that college isn't the only option.

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Both Accounting and Management Information Systems when I went through.  Was stupid, got my CPA because everyone else was and never did a single thing in the field.

Today, I'd be all in on cyber security and/or big data.  There is a huge need for the former and the latter is going to be the rage for quite a while.  Data is the most valuable commodity on the planet today.  

Edited by The Commish
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1 hour ago, Hoh said:

Also an EE from our alma mater, and honestly I don’t see what the point was.  I could count the good professors on one hand.

And if you went when I did back in the 20th century, that was the case then too.

Nothing changes there, GB.

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Find the prestigious extracurriculars, schmooze the right people and get the best grades to get into them, work a job or two along the way that you like, and focus on figuring out what you want out of life. Take advantage of the dating pool. Get/stay in shape.

 

If you can be at the top of your class and you are a hard worker, your major doesn't matter.

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On 1/24/2020 at 12:24 AM, Ron Swanson said:

I think most people fail to recognize that the trades option is not about creating just an income.  It's about the opportunity to create a business. A highly scalable, lucrative, growth business.

Exactly. And best part is they can start earning a better than average wage right from the start. Put in 10yrs learning then open up shop by your ~30th bday.  It’s closest to a sure thing I’m aware of. If I was in a different spot in life I’d do it. 

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Biology.

Pick a degree with good employment prospects right out of college. Then if plans for graduate or professional school don’t work out, good jobs await.

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On 1/23/2020 at 6:01 PM, -OZ- said:

Agreed

If I were to do it over again, I'd probably keep my second major.

Advice to my kids - find what you like, keep trying different things until you find the match. Then work the hell out of it.

I majored in economics out of prudence. It never stuck and I can't tell you what G equals in any situation at all.

However; I love English and American History and Poli Sci (seond major) and would have both a higher GPA and a more successful feel if perhaps I had made that my major. My thoughts: If you're going liberal arts, do not worry about the viability of a degree; none of them are viable. Do what you love.

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Started out majoring in chemical engineering.  Quickly hated chem and physics lab.  Deeply hated.

Switched to actuarial science.  Really enjoyed the major.  It worked out great, no regrets about how life has turned out (except for getting married too young — which has nothing to do with my major).  

Haven't worked as an actuary since 2003.  Hated being chained to a desk and pigeon-holed as a “math guy wearing pocket protector.”

Again, no regrets, but probably would have majored in Finance/Econ/Stats.  Ideally would have waited 1-2 years to start college, and spent the gap time working weird jobs.   Maybe something in Sales.  I needed to grow up and get a dose of reality.  Never would have worked as an actuary.  Never would have joined an insurance company.

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Me: Mathematics

One studies math to learn it, not so much for employment propspects. I couldn’t care less about a career, I loved the subject. I’d do it all again, and I’ll tell my daughter to 1) go to college if they offer something that appeals to you 2) don’t worry about employment—spend your time studying and doing what you like.

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1 hour ago, rockaction said:

I majored in economics out of prudence. It never stuck and I can't tell you what G equals in any situation at all.

However; I love English and American History and Poli Sci (seond major) and would have both a higher GPA and a more successful feel if perhaps I had made that my major. My thoughts: If you're going liberal arts, do not worry about the viability of a degree; none of them are viable. Do what you love.

Economics was my minor before switching to military science. Ended up with one major and three minors. It's not hard to tell which has been most lucrative:

Major: political science

Minor 1: social sciences

Minor 2: Military science

Minor 3: finance (I took 3 graduate level courses during my final year) 

Finance might actually have helped a bit on the personal level, but it has never been a factor in my careers. 

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