HS senior to-be is telling us he is thinking about majoring in Economics...

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galving
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Re: HS senior to-be is telling us he is thinking about majoring in Economics...

Post by galving » Sun Feb 09, 2020 4:53 pm

Fully agree with KlangFool. I confess, I'm an engineer as well.

Looking back I think having Economics as a minor would have been an advantage.

I'm originally a chemical engineer, with a deep manufacturing background and over time I'm gained more and more exposure to business decisions/economics. Its super interesting. . .

Without the engineering degree it would be very difficult/impossible to have accomplished what I have in the chemical industry.
Granted the chemical industry is not a typical target for today's generation.

Depends a little on what part of the country you want to live. I don't have any complaints as this career has taken me across the planet, and I'm still solving problems today.

Good luck!

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Re: HS senior to-be is telling us he is thinking about majoring in Economics...

Post by cableguy » Sun Feb 09, 2020 5:35 pm

My opinion. He should go to a big school (at least 7,000 students) that has many different programs. Smart kids change their minds. As a freshman he could be undecided. As a sophomore he could go towards finance or accounting with an econ minor and when its all over he could have a computer science or engineering degree! That's the beauty of college! I have an econ degree and MBA. The COO of my last company had an econ degree. He told me econ is a great degree because it teaches you how to think logically and if you majored in someone specific and didn't pursue it long term you'd forget most of it. Sounds like you are blessed with a healthy kid that has a brain. I wish him well on his journey....

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Re: HS senior to-be is telling us he is thinking about majoring in Economics...

Post by Pdxnative » Sun Feb 09, 2020 6:56 pm

He/you might want to check out the operations research and financial engineering programs at places like Columbia or Princeton. Cornell’s is OR and info engineering I think. In any case, these are highly quantitative programs that include a mix of Econ, applied math, and CS. With the “math brain” this approach might be interesting to him. He could probably shape an Econ major at many different schools around the same sort of approach, assuming availability of applied math and optimization courses in other departments. Most undergrad Econ majors just can’t do, or aren’t interested in, that level of math so it can be a real differentiator for those few who can.

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Re: HS senior to-be is telling us he is thinking about majoring in Economics...

Post by CoastalWinds » Mon Feb 10, 2020 1:47 am

Economics is an easy major. So perhaps he won’t find it challenging/stimulating enough?

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Re: HS senior to-be is telling us he is thinking about majoring in Economics...

Post by spdoublebass » Mon Feb 10, 2020 2:10 am

coachd50 wrote:
Sun Feb 09, 2020 4:35 pm
KlangFool wrote:
Sun Feb 09, 2020 4:24 pm
coachd50 wrote:
Sun Feb 09, 2020 4:12 pm
KlangFool wrote:
Sat Feb 08, 2020 6:54 pm
OP,

Ask the HS Senior to-be what jobs and career path that he is going to pursue with that degree? If he does not know, why is he doing this degree? He is the one that needs to come up with an answer.

In my case, when my kid cannot come up with that answer with a physics degree, I told him point-blank that I am not paying for that degree. He had to change his major.


<<Great grades and the PSAT suggests a 1400 will be his floor on the SAT (knock on wood).>>

Based on the PSAT score, how does he ranked nationally? National Merit Commended Student?

https://blog.prepscholar.com/psat-score ... cholarship

KlangFool
You usually make such well thought out and wise posts. This is clearly the opposite of those. Thinking that a high schooler should be so locked in that he/she has a predetermined career path at the age of 17 seems dangerously robotic. Life is for living.
coachd50,

A) <<Ask the HS Senior to-be what jobs and career path that he is going to pursue with that degree? If he does not know, why is he doing this degree? He is the one that needs to come up with an answer. >>

The goal of that question is to find out whether that kid did any thinking or research behind his selection of major.

<<Thinking that a high schooler should be so locked in that he/she has a predetermined career path at the age of 17 seems dangerously robotic. >>

If you believe that, why would you let 17 years old make a decision on his major without making sure that he did not shut out other possible career paths?

At the minimum, you would at least ask the question (A) and find out whether the person had done his homework/research.

Choosing a major in economics would shut out some career paths like STEM. However, the reverse is not true. A major in STEM could always change to economics. So, why would you let someone choose economic if he has no idea what to do with his life?

KlangFool
You do realize that choosing a major is not a binding endeavor, and often is irrelevant up to the first 3 semesters of study (core class work)

Asking your son "have you even researched what those who study physics tend to do once they graduate?" is one thing. Saying to him "tell me what careers you can do with this degree. What, you dont know? No, I will not pay for your degree unless you change majors" seems a bit disingenuous.
I agree with KlangFool's advice. Not that he needs me to speak for him.

One thing that is often overlooked on this forum is that while we all post out advice, we do not post every detail of our life to show why we came to that viewpoint.

People have been posting that a student can change majors 2 or 3 times. True, this is often the case. However, some students cannot afford to do so. Also, some Students come from very well off families, or enter the family business, what works for these people doesn't always work for everyone.

I think it's a great idea to sit a young person down and say what jobs will this degree get you. I'm a professional musician. At 16, I knew how to answer the question of how are you gonna make $100Ka year and I knew what I had to do to get me in that position. (I grew up in a poor area and to me at 16 $100K was a huge amount of money) I only knew this because people (private teachers) asked me the question repeatedly. Music of course in an art form, but it's a completely different animal when you say you want to pay your mortgage with it.

The advice may sound harsh, but every student is different.
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misterjohnny
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Re: HS senior to-be is telling us he is thinking about majoring in Economics...

Post by misterjohnny » Mon Feb 10, 2020 12:40 pm

ANALYTICS!

Use his math skills to analyze data sets. Use his computer programming skills to figure out where to get the data and how to analyze it. Use his study of economics to understand what is important.

Good analytics people are very hard to find, and SO valuable. Most people we find who have the math/statistics skills are immigrants with poor english skills, which limits their upward mobility. All of the folks who can analyze the data, understand its importance, and communicate to the bosses have moved up into more critical positions.

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Re: HS senior to-be is telling us he is thinking about majoring in Economics...

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Mon Feb 10, 2020 1:01 pm

stan1 wrote:
Sat Feb 08, 2020 9:45 pm
Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Sat Feb 08, 2020 9:39 pm
I'm curious and can not come up with anything. What actual jobs does one get with a bachelors in economics? I have a nephew who is an econ major and his answer to that question is either "I don't know" or "Maybe something in government".
Consultants, Fortune 500 companies and Wall Street for just about any type of entry level job with "analyst" in its title. That's why the computer science or even statistics part helps these days (data science).
I guess I'm not much in tune with what entry people in Wall St do. Like KlangFool, I'm a practicing engineer in a role where I'm used as a consultant. When customer engineers of ours get stuck and cannot figure things out, I'm brought in as a consultant to figure the things out. I can't imagine someone without a good background in the field would be of any use in this position. So I guess I'm at a loss how a new college grad could be a consultant.

Fortune 500......well, ok, that's a set of companies where one could work. But doing what?

Where I do "get it" is that I understand that any Bachelors graduate has simply shown that he has learned how to learn. That's the key. My son just accepted a job and the engineering firm he'll be working for told him "We know that you don't know anything, but you've demonstrated that you can learn". So if there are jobs out there where the employer is looking for people who can learn what they need done, then that makes complete sense. And as an aside, the highest paying jobs by degree at my son's college is Computer Scientists.
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Re: HS senior to-be is telling us he is thinking about majoring in Economics...

Post by market timer » Tue Feb 11, 2020 12:11 am

Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 1:01 pm
I guess I'm not much in tune with what entry people in Wall St do. Like KlangFool, I'm a practicing engineer in a role where I'm used as a consultant. When customer engineers of ours get stuck and cannot figure things out, I'm brought in as a consultant to figure the things out. I can't imagine someone without a good background in the field would be of any use in this position. So I guess I'm at a loss how a new college grad could be a consultant.
Some of the best entry-level jobs for economics grads (or MBAs) are in strategic consulting firms like McKinsey, Bain, and BCG. These positions require no industry experience and are good springboards to leadership roles at F500 companies. These consulting firms are typically hired to listen to the C-suite and do what existing leadership cannot achieve due to internal politics or incompetence.

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Re: HS senior to-be is telling us he is thinking about majoring in Economics...

Post by AerialWombat » Tue Feb 11, 2020 2:08 am

Joel wrote:
Sat Feb 08, 2020 11:10 pm
With that mix, he should consider accounting as well.
+1

I always gently encourage accounting over finance or econ. I think it has greater functional utility at the BS level, creating a career backstop with no geographic limitations. Finance and econ jobs are hard(er) to come by in many locations. Even if he has no desire to take the CPA path, there is still employment potential if grad school/law school doesn’t work out. I also think accounting is a better base for a business career if he is so inclined.

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Re: HS senior to-be is telling us he is thinking about majoring in Economics...

Post by msk » Tue Feb 11, 2020 2:46 am

He can study anything that turns him on but he ought to be aware that computer science is not the same as coding when it comes to making $ and that economics is not the same as a CPA. Fortunately he can learn coding while studying any subject, at any level, and become a CPA if salaries are not high enough for his life style as an economist. The world will be very different from now when he finishes his doctorate 8+ years hence. But he ought to learn skills that seem to be in demand as he progresses throughout his studies. Half of my physics Class of 1966 ended up practising primarily computing/coding with some petroleum engineering/geophysics thrown in. No way that in 1962/63 as freshmen we could have planned that. One of my high school classmates who was a promising Shakespearean actress (as Lady Macbeth!) ended up a billionaire in seismic/geophysics/oil services. Another similar billionaire did his BSc in microbiology... Like for the stock markets, we cannot predict the future. Let the kid follow his passions, with a sideways glance to earning capacity if $ turns him on, sticking to his passion if $ is irrelevant. I have one kid doing grad studies in neutrino astrophysics (no $ there!) but at least he has become pretty good in coding and AI through his research grind :greedy

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Re: HS senior to-be is telling us he is thinking about majoring in Economics...

Post by CedarWaxWing » Tue Feb 11, 2020 1:28 pm

msk wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 2:46 am
He can study anything that turns him on but he ought to be aware that computer science is not the same as coding when it comes to making $ and that economics is not the same as a CPA. Fortunately he can learn coding while studying any subject, at any level, and become a CPA if salaries are not high enough for his life style as an economist. The world will be very different from now when he finishes his doctorate 8+ years hence. But he ought to learn skills that seem to be in demand as he progresses throughout his studies. Half of my physics Class of 1966 ended up practising primarily computing/coding with some petroleum engineering/geophysics thrown in. No way that in 1962/63 as freshmen we could have planned that. One of my high school classmates who was a promising Shakespearean actress (as Lady Macbeth!) ended up a billionaire in seismic/geophysics/oil services. Another similar billionaire did his BSc in microbiology... Like for the stock markets, we cannot predict the future. Let the kid follow his passions, with a sideways glance to earning capacity if $ turns him on, sticking to his passion if $ is irrelevant. I have one kid doing grad studies in neutrino astrophysics (no $ there!) but at least he has become pretty good in coding and AI through his research grind :greedy
1+ HS and College kids needs to be exposed to as much of the world, and the academic universe as possible... by studying things of interest to them... and heck, learning how to live on the cheap along the way. Excelling in anything is, I suspect but cannot prove, a good indicator of the ability to achieve financial success, if that is one of your main goals. NB: Financial success is relative... enough is not the same for everyone, nor is it sufficient for most, since there is more to life than "enough" if you care about your family, friends, and the world around you.


I know of a fellow who studied English in school... and then was recruited by Goldman Sachs... made zillions there, and quit after x number of years, then went off to get his Phd in English... now a professor making a lot less... but doing what he wants to do at this time, with no worries in regards to income or assets.

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Re: HS senior to-be is telling us he is thinking about majoring in Economics...

Post by mak1277 » Tue Feb 11, 2020 1:37 pm

Elysium wrote:
Sat Feb 08, 2020 10:22 pm
Plenty of options. Obviously the key words that struck me were "hard working" "like to argue" and "like to spend money". Why are these important? first one is about work habits and handling pressure, next two are about personality type. As a parent of a HS junior who easily breezed through 1500+ SAT score and PSAT National Merit ranking, but hates to work hard, I know what matters more than intellect and big math brain are work habits.

Not every field and profession fits everyone just based on intellect and math abilities, if they don't like to work extremely hard then field like CS would be good fit, because CS is light work for big math brain people, they can get through it intuitively, work less, but still get paid a lot because not many people can and like to do it. Econ, Finance, MBA, Medicine, etc requires hard work.

Look at work habits and see how they will handle pressure. Has he been subjected to extreme pressure situations, how does he handle it, does he like it or not. Most HS courses do not challenge the brightest students and typically you will not know this until they are challenged by a tough college program.
As someone who is very smart and also very lazy, I will second the comment about picking the correct field. I started college as a pre-med but wasn't willing to work hard enough to succeed. I found myself in the business school and realized I could get A's in accounting without doing much work. Fast forward to a long career in Big 4 followed by a timely move to industry and plans for retirement in my early 40s. Being smart *can* be enough, even without hard work, if you find the path of least resistance.

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Re: HS senior to-be is telling us he is thinking about majoring in Economics...

Post by coinflip » Tue Feb 11, 2020 2:11 pm

As an economics major, economics PhD and professional economist, I couldn't say it's a bad idea.

Starting salaries for new college grads (typically econ majors) at my company are a little over $70k, and it's not hard for them to make six figures in total compensation by their second year.

If your son does decide to major in economics, I would recommend taking the more quantitative electives and seeing if he can get a position as a research assistant for a professor during school. The more experience he gets with statistics, econometrics and programming, the better his job prospects will be.

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Re: HS senior to-be is telling us he is thinking about majoring in Economics...

Post by Elysium » Tue Feb 11, 2020 5:19 pm

mak1277 wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 1:37 pm
Elysium wrote:
Sat Feb 08, 2020 10:22 pm
Plenty of options. Obviously the key words that struck me were "hard working" "like to argue" and "like to spend money". Why are these important? first one is about work habits and handling pressure, next two are about personality type. As a parent of a HS junior who easily breezed through 1500+ SAT score and PSAT National Merit ranking, but hates to work hard, I know what matters more than intellect and big math brain are work habits.

Not every field and profession fits everyone just based on intellect and math abilities, if they don't like to work extremely hard then field like CS would be good fit, because CS is light work for big math brain people, they can get through it intuitively, work less, but still get paid a lot because not many people can and like to do it. Econ, Finance, MBA, Medicine, etc requires hard work.

Look at work habits and see how they will handle pressure. Has he been subjected to extreme pressure situations, how does he handle it, does he like it or not. Most HS courses do not challenge the brightest students and typically you will not know this until they are challenged by a tough college program.
As someone who is very smart and also very lazy, I will second the comment about picking the correct field. I started college as a pre-med but wasn't willing to work hard enough to succeed. I found myself in the business school and realized I could get A's in accounting without doing much work. Fast forward to a long career in Big 4 followed by a timely move to industry and plans for retirement in my early 40s. Being smart *can* be enough, even without hard work, if you find the path of least resistance.
Very interesting. My son has decided to drop the medicine line already while in HS because he is lazy to put in the work even though he is very smart and instead looking for the path of least resistance which to him is through CS. We used to fight about this but has now given up, because we couldn't understand why someone who is smart enough to get a 1500+ on SAT wouldn't want to work harder and accomplish higher academic goals. I still don't get it even though I have stopped worrying about it. Now I just think if someone is smart enough then they'll figure out something eventually, even if they aren't highly successful academically.

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Re: HS senior to-be is telling us he is thinking about majoring in Economics...

Post by almostretired1965 » Tue Feb 11, 2020 6:47 pm

I think any of those majors or some combination of them can all work. My own view is that most kids don't really have a good idea about what will work for them, and those that do, only think they know. The key is to experiment a bit and find/stumble upon he intersection between a subject matter that appeals to them intellectually and that utilize/emphasize their innate or acquired skills. Fact of the matter is unless you have close relatives and/or family friends that are in the profession, you are unlikely to know what is really involved. The key is to explore broadly AND fail fast. Prior to college I was pretty certain I was going to go into a hard science or engineering. In retrospect I thought I enjoyed those subjects mainly because I was good at it compared to my peers in high school, not because I intrinsically enjoyed studying them. I abandoned that path pretty quickly freshmen year and ended up in economics and OR and even with my underachieving ways, things have worked out pretty well. Over my career I've moved back and forth from economic analysis to modeling and simulation to performance analysis to predictive analytics/machine learning with some technical management thrown in.

I'm biased, but I've always thought that the skills I honed studying economics as an undergrad and graduate student, both the formal, abstract modeling, and applied data analysis (econometrics), has given me a leg up on the competition almost everywhere I've been, despite the fact that after the first 5 years or so, very little of what I did dealt with issues or topics I learned about in school. There were always people who had a deeper understanding of the technical domain or a particular analytic discipline. But the ability to bridge the gap is the real value added in most practical situations and it is somewhat surprising how far a little bit of common sense will get you.

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Re: HS senior to-be is telling us he is thinking about majoring in Economics...

Post by EFF_fan81 » Tue Feb 11, 2020 6:55 pm

Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 1:01 pm
I can't imagine someone without a good background in the field would be of any use in this position. So I guess I'm at a loss how a new college grad could be a consultant.
The newbie consultants work under a senior consultant. They aren't doing it all solo.

The typical pattern is couple years as junior analyst, then business school, then junior associate. After a few years of that (so like 7-10 total), then they can get promoted to something that's more like a "real" consultant. This can happen as early as 30, which is still very young in the grand scheme of things but we are talking about very smart, very hardworking people.

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Re: HS senior to-be is telling us he is thinking about majoring in Economics...

Post by OldBallCoach » Tue Feb 11, 2020 7:06 pm

If the kid is really smart and has great math skills tell him to become an offensive coordinator for an NFL team. Seems all the good ones are young, have amazing math and stats skills and make about a million a year. J/K....maybe...but is there a way to get some time for him to shadow some of these ideas you are proposing and let him get a real world view? I imagine with your position and connections you can make that happen? All the best...sounds like a great kid..good parenting friend!!

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Re: HS senior to-be is telling us he is thinking about majoring in Economics...

Post by quantAndHold » Tue Feb 11, 2020 7:11 pm

Only on Bogleheads would people think a kid wanting to major in economics is making a mistake. Or that a 17 year old needs to have his entire life planned out in advance.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.

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Re: HS senior to-be is telling us he is thinking about majoring in Economics...

Post by yeledbed » Tue Feb 11, 2020 10:05 pm

I graduated undergrad nearly 20 years ago, am a hiring manager in analytics and often interview/hire people with degrees in Economics, Computer Science, Statistics, Data Science, etc. The advice I'm giving to college-bound students today is to major in a STEM field that suits your skills, but to minor (or double-major) in a liberal art in which you're interested or want to apply your STEM skills. As someone mentioned up-thread, technical skills are important, but thinking critically and writing are even more important to me as a hiring manager.

Economics is a fine field of study, but at the undergraduate level can vary widely from program to program. Some, typically BAs, are more like a liberal art, while BSs tend to be more quantitative. At the graduate level, upper-level math is required and economics is a technical degree.
Based on your description of your son, he sounds a lot like me (math brain, likes to argue, extrovert, wants to make money). I think he has potential to fulfill one of the most important roles in a modern company: the liaison between the technical team and the business team. This is what I do, and I'm paid well for it.

My story:
Started as a liberal art psychology (BA) major at a large research institution because it was interesting, but after the first semester missed math. In addition to the BA program, my university offered three psychology BS programs, each focused on a different STEM field (quant, bio science, physical science). I opted for the quantitative skills BS program, which required an introductory programming course. I loved it! In my third semester, I decided to also major in Computer Science. This added a year to my degree, but I entered college with enough AP credits to start as a sophomore, so for me, it meant three years turned into four.

After graduating, I had no idea what I wanted to do. Eventually, I got a job in the federal government as a statistician. (The Psychology BS Quant skills option was equivalent to a minor in statistics.) While there, I got a MS in Statistics that the government paid for. Then I moved to the company I'm still at today (and at the time got a 50% increase in pay). My current company paid for my second MS in Finance.

My niche today is to liaise between the statistical modelers (who aren't always good at explaining complex statistical techniques in simple, easy to understand language) and the business functions (who tend to be MBAs with little statistical expertise), serving as a translator between the two. I can speak technical jargon, understand the statistics, and read the programming code of the PhDs, but am articulate and well-spoken enough to impress the MBAs. Your son might do well with a role like that. Few people can do it, and we are in demand.
Last edited by yeledbed on Tue Feb 11, 2020 10:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: HS senior to-be is telling us he is thinking about majoring in Economics...

Post by willthrill81 » Tue Feb 11, 2020 10:07 pm

Job prospects in most areas are stronger in finance than they are in economics. Computer science, which you mentioned, would likely be even stronger, at least in some places.
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Re: HS senior to-be is telling us he is thinking about majoring in Economics...

Post by 1789 » Wed Feb 12, 2020 1:49 am

OP,

Physics PhD here. With a undergrad degree in math/physics it is easier to enter the field of finance/econ by getting an MS and etc... I have seen so many friends switch to finance/econ after undergrad. I have never seen anyone who were able to do opposite (finish undergrad in econ/finance and get Ms/Phd in phys/math...) Also, including myself there are alot of people with a physics PhD, who works in FAANG or other big tech companies if that's a goal (I think its mentioned somewhere). i would let the kid decide and then he/she can switch in coming years during grad school. But again it is very important to remember sometimes this is a one way road, as mentioned above. Some fields are easy to absorb with a 2 year grad school, others are not that easy.
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Re: HS senior to-be is telling us he is thinking about majoring in Economics...

Post by 1789 » Wed Feb 12, 2020 1:52 am

quantAndHold wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 7:11 pm
Only on Bogleheads would people think a kid wanting to major in economics is making a mistake. Or that a 17 year old needs to have his entire life planned out in advance.
Funny but well said!
"My conscience wants vegetarianism to win over the world. And my subconscious is yearning for a piece of juicy meat. But what do i want?" (Andrei Tarkovsky)

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Re: HS senior to-be is telling us he is thinking about majoring in Economics...

Post by Wannaretireearly » Wed Feb 12, 2020 2:38 am

Combo of hard science (Math, science, eng etc) + 'biz' major/minor (econ, fin, accounting etc) has always been appealing. Seems to keep options open for careers/grad school as well as learning well rounded skills
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Re: HS senior to-be is telling us he is thinking about majoring in Economics...

Post by Righty » Wed Feb 12, 2020 11:10 am

Econ is a tricky one. Really comes down to what he envisions to do with it. As others have said, becoming an "economist" will require significantly more schooling. For others, econ degrees are a fungible business degree. For instance, most preppy liberal arts schools (e.g. Trinity, no affiliation) do not have a hard business program so econ is the path to finance/consulting careers.

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Re: HS senior to-be is telling us he is thinking about majoring in Economics...

Post by econalex » Wed Feb 12, 2020 11:27 am

I'd definitely recommend econ. But it has to be paired with another (or a couple other) "hard skill" majors/minors like math/stat/computer sci.

For max immediate marketability after college graduation, go for econ/CS; for Econ Phd, go for econ/math; or maybe poli sci and so on if he's interested in those academic subjects

PS: I'm a econ/math in college, failed econ phd at big state U and finally an Operations Research MA at a popular destination Ivy. Hence I have mixed feelings about econ degree lol.

PS: If I may say this, your child sounds more like a good fit for consulting/IB.

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Re: HS senior to-be is telling us he is thinking about majoring in Economics...

Post by Capsu78 » Wed Feb 12, 2020 4:35 pm

We used to joke in college that Economics was for students without the personality to be accounting majors.

(Hey, I was a Poly Sci major...they had plenty of jokes for me too!"

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