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Ginsy

University and "Useless" Majors

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I'm sure you've all heard about the "useless" degree phenomena where graduates from arts, humanities, science and other programs go on to work at Starbucks for a cheap dime (*cough* me). 

https://www.thesimpledollar.com/10-worst-college-degrees-to-earn-in-2015/

I'm not certain if this can go here, or anywhere on this site for that matter. But you are an intelligent lot and I assume most of you are older than I am, so I was hoping I could benefit from your knowledge/experience.

I just wanted to know if there will be a significant difference in my employment prospects graduating from university if I pursue an Economics degree vs. a degree in Urban and Regional Planning. Both majors have so many required credits that there's unfortunately no way I can do both. I would prefer to do Economics but I hear there a lot of good careers in planning. This is at Queen's in Kingston, ON btw. Do any of you have any idea which would set me up better for the job market? 

Thanks.

Edited by Ginsy

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I guess the argument for these degrees is that there are many higher level programs that you need BoA's to get into. Teaching for example. 

I do think that anyone getting subsidization for their education should have a plan to achieve gainful employment. Adults who've been laid off certainly need such a plan when perusing retraining. But that's mean-spirited for children that just want to go to school, just cuz. 

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My cousin is a teacher in the system. She needs teacher's aids just to translate...

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20 minutes ago, DogOnPorch said:

My cousin is a teacher in the system. She needs teacher's aids just to translate...

OK, how about lawyers then? 

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Just now, Boges said:

OK, how about lawyers then? 

 

None of my immediate family have chosen such a heinous occupation as a dirty lawyer. Yourself?

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8 minutes ago, DogOnPorch said:

None of my immediate family have chosen such a heinous occupation as a dirty lawyer. Yourself?

Nope, some friends though. Just highlighting occupations where you need a BoA to start the specialized training. 

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1 minute ago, Boges said:

Nope, some friends though. Just highlighting occupations where you need a BoA to start the specialized training. 

 

Poor devils.

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The world has too many of both economists and planners. That said, in almost any field, if you are a top 1% expert on the subject, you can have an excellent career and excellent pay. The only way to be a top 1% expert is if you are very interested in the subject and spend not only the required time studying it, but much of your own additional free time as well. Therefore, if you are deeply passionate about either one of those two subjects, I would suggest picking that one. But don't lie to yourself about how interested you are in something... not everyone is deeply passionate about a subject.

On the other hand, if you are not deeply passionate about either and are just looking for a degree that has a fairly high certainty of letting you easily find a decent paying job, I would recommend considering some STEM fields. If you are not particularly math/science oriented, out of the programs offered at Queen's, you might considering Civil, Geological, or Mining Engineering. All lead fairly reliably to medium-high paying careers even if you are only an average performing student rather than a top performer, while requiring only an amount of math that most anyone can handle given a bit of perseverance (unlike some of the other fields which require some inherent mathematical aptitude). 

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44 minutes ago, Boges said:

I guess the argument for these degrees is that there are many higher level programs that you need BoA's to get into. Teaching for example. 

I do think that anyone getting subsidization for their education should have a plan to achieve gainful employment. Adults who've been laid off certainly need such a plan when perusing retraining. But that's mean-spirited for children that just want to go to school, just cuz. 

I agree :( Not entirely awesome that most (myself included..) view school as a way to get a job and not for the sole purpose of learning. Of course, that's a a consequence of tuition being so high that people need to pay back their loans and have a good ROI - which is completely understandable. But what about academia just for the love of it?! 

My understanding may be skewed, but I find that many university programs (okay, at least in the humanities, arts and sciences) are geared towards theoretical learning and are not actually meant for one to find meaningful employment, so I wish people would stop attaching going to university with finding a job. I was under the impression that college/trade programs exist solely to give people the skills needed to work in a specific profession. So, when and why did this mix in with university? I wish there were more concrete borders between the two. 

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7 minutes ago, Ginsy said:

I agree :( Not entirely awesome that most (myself included..) view school as a way to get a job and not for the sole purpose of learning. Of course, that's a a consequence of tuition being so high that people need to pay back their loans and have a good ROI - which is completely understandable. But what about academia just for the love of it?! 

My understanding may be skewed, but I find that many university programs (okay, at least in the humanities, arts and sciences) are geared towards theoretical learning and are not actually meant for one to find meaningful employment, so I wish people would stop attaching going to university with finding a job. I was under the impression that college/trade programs exist solely to give people the skills needed to work in a specific profession. So, when and why did this mix in with university? I wish there were more concrete borders between the two. 

The reality is that the vast majority of university students, after completing university (whether it's a Bachelor's, Master's, or PhD) go off to work in private industry (or government positions). Therefore, for that majority of students, the primary purpose of going to university is to prepare oneself for their future career. A small fraction of students will go on to continue to work in academia, doing research. However, there are always many fewer positions as professors and researchers at universities than there are students graduating in that field (even PhD students), so again, it's only the top sliver who should consider betting their life prospects on following the academia path. 

Edited by Bonam

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6 hours ago, Ginsy said:

I'm sure you've all heard about the "useless" degree phenomena where graduates from arts, humanities, science and other programs go on to work at Starbucks for a cheap dime (*cough* me). 

https://www.thesimpledollar.com/10-worst-college-degrees-to-earn-in-2015/

 

I would like to say anything business (includes economics) will get you faster into your eventual chosen career.  When you choose urban planning you become more specialized and with less prospect of jobs in the field of choice.  Networking then becomes crucial as jobs in specialized engineering are limited.  Perhaps it is to distinguish between many things including your like for a subject matter and practicality.  For instance, I liked math.  But, what if statistics Canada did not offer me a job.  I prefer to side with the culture of the locals  in South Africa "you make a plan".  So,  I pursued economics among others.  The love for a area of study never faltered, you will find out as your journey continues. As it turns out in the end you can enjoy the best of  both ends.  I have a peculiar feeling you already know the answer :).  Good luck in your studies.

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9 minutes ago, Bonam said:

The world has too many of both economists and planners. That said, in almost any field, if you are a top 1% expert on the subject, you can have an excellent career and excellent pay. The only way to be a top 1% expert is if you are very interested in the subject and spend not only the required time studying it, but much of your own additional free time as well. Therefore, if you are deeply passionate about either one of those two subjects, I would suggest picking that one. But don't lie to yourself about how interested you are in something... not everyone is deeply passionate about a subject.

On the other hand, if you are not deeply passionate about either and are just looking for a degree that has a fairly high certainty of letting you easily find a decent paying job, I would recommend considering some STEM fields. If you are not particularly math/science oriented, out of the programs offered at Queen's, you might considering Civil, Geological, or Mining Engineering. All lead fairly reliably to medium-high paying careers even if you are only an average performing student rather than a top performer, while requiring only an amount of math that most anyone can handle given a bit of perseverance (unlike some of the other fields which require some inherent mathematical aptitude). 

Thanks for the reply, Bonam. In all honesty, I'm passionate about Politics and originally intended to do a Political Science degree, but I backed away because of the many horror stories I've heard of people struggling to find employment. Sigh. I figured Econ/Planning might be more useful, but that could be my ignorance speaking. Thoughts? I spend most (all..) of my free time reading political blogs, theory, etc. I was hoping Econ and Planning were both interesting enough to sustain my intellectual interests and also give me a solid exit option after I graduate.

I'm not looking exclusively for employability. I kind of just want to learn, but also parental expectations, gonna have like 7K debt, want to get a car one day and do normal Canadian stuff. I figured an average/solid income would help with that a bit ha. Sadly, I doubt I can honestly go into any STEM fields. I don't care enough for it and would probably be a depressed lil shit everyday, and more importantly I seriously don't have the aptitude for it. I do appreciate the advice though. This is so hard! 

You sure the world has too many economist and planners? Room for one more maybe? I swear I'll be nice. 

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7 minutes ago, Bonam said:

The reality is that the vast majority of university students, after completing university (whether it's a Bachelor's, Master's, or PhD) go off to work in private industry (or government positions). Therefore, for that majority of students, the primary purpose of going to university is to prepare oneself for their future career. A small fraction of students will go on to continue to work in academia, doing research. However, there are always many fewer positions as professors and researchers at universities than there are students graduating in that field (even PhD students), so again, it's only the top sliver who should consider betting their life prospects on following the academia path. 

Ah. Is this why many consider academia to be a bad route? I've read so many articles on why a PhD is a bad financial decision because tenure is so difficult. But, then I could see why those who complete PhD's would branch off into private/public sector work. More stability I assume (?) and you probably need that if you want kids, a home, etc. That's a bit depressing! I imagine some have to decide between following their passions or going for practicality (though, this is an extreme and I'm sure there are many cases where the two overlap). 

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Do a chart. Assign points (1-10).

How much do I think I'd like doing this?
How good would I likely be at this?
What are the odds of my getting a good job from this?

You probably want to give the third column more weight. For example, I wanted to be a Playboy photographer (10). I thought I would be really good at it (10), but the odds of my actually getting such a job were about (0). Hey, 20 out of 30! I should take photography, right? Wrong. :(

Not all Economics graduates work as economists. Our last PM was one and he didn't spend a lot of time working as an economist. But a number of professions, like Economics, are in demand in a number of areas. Business Administration being one. I took it, and am still occasionally surprised at how some of the stuff I had to take, like Economics, Marketing and Accounting, are useful in understanding things in everyday life. Political science? Too many people take that and there's too little jobs for them. How many high flyers in politics ever took it either? How many people in the House of Commons or in provincial assemblies took poli sci? Not many. If you like numbers and formulas try Accounting (bleh). If you like being alone much of the time and working for people with no social skills  take computer engineering.

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23 hours ago, Ginsy said:

My understanding may be skewed, but I find that many university programs (okay, at least in the humanities, arts and sciences) are geared towards theoretical learning and are not actually meant for one to find meaningful employment, so I wish people would stop attaching going to university with finding a job. I was under the impression that college/trade programs exist solely to give people the skills needed to work in a specific profession. So, when and why did this mix in with university? I wish there were more concrete borders between the two. 

Because high school teachers and high school guidance counselors went to university and got degrees in things like English, French, history, fine art, religious studies etc. and then spent just a short time in teacher's college and came out gravy with good paying unionized jobs with benefits & pensions.  It worked for them, so they assume it would work for their students when it was time for them to get advice on what to do after high school.  For the other 99% of the population who aren't teachers, these degrees are a ticket to nowhere. 

Edited by Moonlight Graham

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My degree was Military History and Strategic Studies. I worked in consumer loans for a while before getting a career as a Community Peace Officer on a university campus. 

In other words, if you are looking for job training, take plumbing, computer tech. or be an electrician. 

My education was great, my career was even better, but, other than the fact the supervisor who hired me for campus security felt my degree would help me deal with faculty, my education had no bearing on obtaining my career.

University is for learning and researching for its own sake.

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Ginsy,

I few thoughts, as my oldest son is a year away from university and having to think about the same decisions.

There are a number of jobs  (engineering, accounting, medical jobs, the trades) that require specialized knowledge and training.  If these jobs interest you university / college are about getting the knowledge needed for the specific job (and typically to pass a certification exam).  Following this process tends to lead most easily to a good job right out of university / college, as long as you pick a career path where there are job openings (eg. not a teacher in Ontario).    

The alternative is taking a more general  program in university / college.   Typically the path a job after school is not nearly as well defined, and will require more effort (and probably time) on your part to find or work your way into a "good" job.   One of the biggest challenges you will face is standing out from the very large pool of candidates with similar qualifications. 

In both cases your success (in any career) will depend ultimately on your effort, ability to think and creativity.  

Now 20 odd years, and 5 very different jobs after graduation, I've seen many different paths people have taken to successful and / or rewarding work, and what program they took in university / college seems to play a pretty minor part in that, it's what they've done after words that makes the difference.  However it's also clear to me that taking one of the social studies programs or  less specific career less focused programs, in no way makes people better thinkers, more open or gives them any other better "qualities".  If you are interested in learning you can do that as easily inside or outside of university. 

 

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On 05/01/2018 at 5:29 AM, Ginsy said:

I'm sure you've all heard about the "useless" degree phenomena where graduates from arts, humanities, science and other programs go on to work at Starbucks for a cheap dime (*cough* me). 

https://www.thesimpledollar.com/10-worst-college-degrees-to-earn-in-2015/

I'm not certain if this can go here, or anywhere on this site for that matter. But you are an intelligent lot and I assume most of you are older than I am, so I was hoping I could benefit from your knowledge/experience.

I just wanted to know if there will be a significant difference in my employment prospects graduating from university if I pursue an Economics degree vs. a degree in Urban and Regional Planning. Both majors have so many required credits that there's unfortunately no way I can do both. I would prefer to do Economics but I hear there a lot of good careers in planning. This is at Queen's in Kingston, ON btw. Do any of you have any idea which would set me up better for the job market? 

Thanks.

You do a Co-op program and get work experience. Degrees are only one part to getting a job. 

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On 1/5/2018 at 5:29 AM, Ginsy said:

I'm sure you've all heard about the "useless" degree phenomena where graduates from arts, humanities, science and other programs go on to work at Starbucks for a cheap dime (*cough* me). 

Do any of you have any idea which would set me up better for the job market? 

Thanks.

Geology.  Every kid I know who's gone into geology is making a fortune, followed closely by those who went into IT.

The geologists are almost all working abroad but the most successful ones appear to be working closer to home as they get older. 

Edited by eyeball

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On 1/5/2018 at 3:28 PM, RB said:

I would like to say anything business (includes economics) will get you faster into your eventual chosen career.  When you choose urban planning you become more specialized and with less prospect of jobs in the field of choice.  Networking then becomes crucial as jobs in specialized engineering are limited.  Perhaps it is to distinguish between many things including your like for a subject matter and practicality.  For instance, I liked math.  But, what if statistics Canada did not offer me a job.  I prefer to side with the culture of the locals  in South Africa "you make a plan".  So,  I pursued economics among others.  The love for a area of study never faltered, you will find out as your journey continues. As it turns out in the end you can enjoy the best of  both ends.  I have a peculiar feeling you already know the answer :).  Good luck in your studies.

Extremely sorry for the late reply, RB. Your response is greatly appreciated. 

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On 1/5/2018 at 7:40 PM, Argus said:

Do a chart. Assign points (1-10).

How much do I think I'd like doing this?
How good would I likely be at this?
What are the odds of my getting a good job from this?

You probably want to give the third column more weight. For example, I wanted to be a Playboy photographer (10). I thought I would be really good at it (10), but the odds of my actually getting such a job were about (0). Hey, 20 out of 30! I should take photography, right? Wrong. :(

Not all Economics graduates work as economists. Our last PM was one and he didn't spend a lot of time working as an economist. But a number of professions, like Economics, are in demand in a number of areas. Business Administration being one. I took it, and am still occasionally surprised at how some of the stuff I had to take, like Economics, Marketing and Accounting, are useful in understanding things in everyday life. Political science? Too many people take that and there's too little jobs for them. How many high flyers in politics ever took it either? How many people in the House of Commons or in provincial assemblies took poli sci? Not many. If you like numbers and formulas try Accounting (bleh). If you like being alone much of the time and working for people with no social skills  take computer engineering.

Thanks for the reply! Very helpful. Based on your chart Economics ended up winning. And hey, listen, you can still be a Playboy photographer if you want. Don't let your dreams die Argus. 

I'm not sure I exactly want to be an Economist. I'm not even sure how the heck people become Economists. However, I am very interested in policy work and other things closely related to it. I figured Economics would allow me to get there easier as well as Political Science. Thanks for giving me things to consider.

Also, accounting looks so boring! My dad is an accountant and I told myself I would never do that. Though, I do appreciate the work that accountants do

Edited by Ginsy

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On 1/10/2018 at 12:29 AM, eyeball said:

Geology.  Every kid I know who's gone into geology is making a fortune, followed closely by those who went into IT.

The geologists are almost all working abroad but the most successful ones appear to be working closer to home as they get older. 

Reading this made me slightly jealous of my friends in Geology! Really though, thank you. Unfortunately, it is a field I have no interest in :(

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