Which College degrees are worthwhile?

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TechFI
Posts: 130
Joined: Fri Jun 05, 2020 12:07 am

Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by TechFI »

Arabesque wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 7:42 am I have been following this thread, trying not to get sucked in, but I do think it’s getting a little unrealistic and dogmatic.

TechFI writes: "
And one should always align the college you are going to and the degree your are pursuing to the job you want after graduation. A degree from Harvard is useless if it doesn't get you a good job/career. I will go even further and say, if your college degree has not led you to the job you want, you have basically failed. Focus on the end goal and work backwards."

Working backwards may work for you if you are planning to be an RN or an engineer for the rest of your life, but it presumes that 18 y.o. know who they are and what they want to do, that 1% interest in your work makes for a happy life, and that the purpose of a college degree is a finite job/work/money.
That is the problem with the immaturity of kids these days. Instead of hiding behind this as an excuse, they should learn what they want. The epidemic of clueless college kids is also really a uniquely American thing. You're not going to college to party or enjoy, you're doing it for a competitive advantage, and one of the few opportunities to get it if you weren't born from an advantageous background. This kind of aimless party nonsense is also facilitated by the US college system, which allows people to "bum around" for the first 2 years. I have taught introductory courses and the level of incompetence of freshmen kids (top public college, so top 20-50 nationwide) can be appalling... I had some kids who can't even work with SI units. It's multiples of 10s... how hard can it be? I don't want to know what the standards are like today. Not something that you want to be aspiring towards.

Before I joined college I already knew what I wanted out in my life in the next decade or so. Mid-way in college I started executing my 10-20 year plan. After about 15 years I successfully completed the main objective. Mission accomplished. Has things changed along the way? Yes, I have become less naive and more practical. I focused too much on 'passion' when I was younger and not enough on the money. That's my kryptonite, where I will go along and do stuff for 4 years without really asking myself why I wanted this. This made me a poor overachiever and I got bitter. Luckily I realized in time and did a massive course correction. I do not wish this to happen to anyone else, that's why I say, always work backwards.

So in short, yes you can and you should know at the high level what you want out of life. The details and implementation may change over time. The primary objective will not. My additional advice is do a review every year of your life goals, and ask yourself if that has changed. While my main objective has not changed over time, various sub-goals have changed (and those change more frequently), so make sure to update your sub-goals *every year*.

Hindsight is 20/20, but working backwards from where I am today, not only would I have planned out my primary objective, I would have put more thoughts into my sub-goals even earlier, and I would have started thinking about it even earlier, during high school. If I had did that, history would have been very different.
Arabesque wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 7:42 am Anecdotally, one of my kids graduated from Harvard a couple of years ago. Some of her friends had clear career goals, but two years out they are pursuing great opportunities and going in surprising directions. Some had "worthless" majors (English, classics), but managed to do just fine (one started at 6 figures). Others were a few years into a major, grew disinterested, and switch their paths. They struggled to find a job because of the switch, but guess what. They are doing amazing creative things as they remake themselves. I doubt Zucherberg started with a clear goal.

I don't encourage students to be art history majors (though I have a persistent niece, an art history major, who has a fabulous job). I have on occasion encouraged students to be English or gender studies majors. Some did very well.
There's nothing wrong with pursuing great opportunities... especially if it's a good one. While you have a goal in mine, you also need to be flexible enough to incorporate new developments in the world. In my old career I had to work until 55+ before I could be financially independent (FI). I saw opening/opportunities in tech, pivoted and moved, and now that it is cut down to working until 45-50(?). The key sub-goal still hasn't changed though... earn more money so that I can FI and have more options earlier in life.

Again I go back to numbers. How many of Harvard students with worthless majors end up fine? What percentage? What about 10-20 years down the road?
oldfort
Posts: 1735
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2020 8:45 pm

Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by oldfort »

smitcat wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 7:22 am
oldfort wrote: Sat Jul 11, 2020 7:51 pm
smitcat wrote: Sat Jul 11, 2020 5:10 pm
oldfort wrote: Sat Jul 11, 2020 5:00 pm
smitcat wrote: Mon Jul 06, 2020 10:37 am
Excellent then - with all the feedback you posted I am sure I have no idea what you mean either.
Follow the money. Make money your number one priority when choosing careers/jobs.
That will definitely work to make the most funds in the least amount of time. These are some of the most common things that get in the way of following money and disrupting a great plan:
- do not get married
- do not have kids
- do not have hobbies
- best to not have friends either
Kids are expensive. Hobbies are expensive. Marriage and realistically divorce can be expensive, unless you luck out and marry a spouse who earns more than you do. Marriage, kids, and hobbies can all be reasons to prioritize making money your number one priority in your career. The people best positioned to follow their passion in some low paying career are those who want to remain perpetually single, have no desire for kids ever, and don't have any hobbies. If you plan to have a spouse, kids, or hobbies, then you can't afford to pursue a career based on whether you find the job interesting and fulfilling.
"If you plan to have a spouse, kids, or hobbies, then you can't afford to pursue a career based on whether you find the job interesting and fulfilling."
Unless you plan and choose with a focus on that choice.
You should take a look at this thread on a hopeless civil engineer, who probably got some bad advice about following their passion in college. She is 35, finally realizing money matters, and is looking to restart in a new career field 13 years behind everyone else.

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=318836
smitcat
Posts: 6471
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:51 am

Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by smitcat »

oldfort wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 12:29 pm
smitcat wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 7:22 am
oldfort wrote: Sat Jul 11, 2020 7:51 pm
smitcat wrote: Sat Jul 11, 2020 5:10 pm
oldfort wrote: Sat Jul 11, 2020 5:00 pm

Follow the money. Make money your number one priority when choosing careers/jobs.
That will definitely work to make the most funds in the least amount of time. These are some of the most common things that get in the way of following money and disrupting a great plan:
- do not get married
- do not have kids
- do not have hobbies
- best to not have friends either
Kids are expensive. Hobbies are expensive. Marriage and realistically divorce can be expensive, unless you luck out and marry a spouse who earns more than you do. Marriage, kids, and hobbies can all be reasons to prioritize making money your number one priority in your career. The people best positioned to follow their passion in some low paying career are those who want to remain perpetually single, have no desire for kids ever, and don't have any hobbies. If you plan to have a spouse, kids, or hobbies, then you can't afford to pursue a career based on whether you find the job interesting and fulfilling.
"If you plan to have a spouse, kids, or hobbies, then you can't afford to pursue a career based on whether you find the job interesting and fulfilling."
Unless you plan and choose with a focus on that choice.
You should take a look at this thread on a hopeless civil engineer, who probably got some bad advice about following their passion in college. She is 35, finally realizing money matters, and is looking to restart in a new career field 13 years behind everyone else.

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=318836
There is always another story about what folks can and cannot do - my thoughts were to provide a way to view having a life both with a job and without a job. Yes - it is possible for many.
TheNightsToCome
Posts: 607
Joined: Fri Jun 30, 2017 11:48 pm

Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by TheNightsToCome »

TechFI wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 11:49 am
Arabesque wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 7:42 am I have been following this thread, trying not to get sucked in, but I do think it’s getting a little unrealistic and dogmatic.

TechFI writes: "
And one should always align the college you are going to and the degree your are pursuing to the job you want after graduation. A degree from Harvard is useless if it doesn't get you a good job/career. I will go even further and say, if your college degree has not led you to the job you want, you have basically failed. Focus on the end goal and work backwards."

Working backwards may work for you if you are planning to be an RN or an engineer for the rest of your life, but it presumes that 18 y.o. know who they are and what they want to do, that 1% interest in your work makes for a happy life, and that the purpose of a college degree is a finite job/work/money.
That is the problem with the immaturity of kids these days. Instead of hiding behind this as an excuse, they should learn what they want. The epidemic of clueless college kids is also really a uniquely American thing. You're not going to college to party or enjoy, you're doing it for a competitive advantage, and one of the few opportunities to get it if you weren't born from an advantageous background. This kind of aimless party nonsense is also facilitated by the US college system, which allows people to "bum around" for the first 2 years. I have taught introductory courses and the level of incompetence of freshmen kids (top public college, so top 20-50 nationwide) can be appalling... I had some kids who can't even work with SI units. It's multiples of 10s... how hard can it be? I don't want to know what the standards are like today. Not something that you want to be aspiring towards.

Before I joined college I already knew what I wanted out in my life in the next decade or so. Mid-way in college I started executing my 10-20 year plan. After about 15 years I successfully completed the main objective. Mission accomplished. Has things changed along the way? Yes, I have become less naive and more practical. I focused too much on 'passion' when I was younger and not enough on the money. That's my kryptonite, where I will go along and do stuff for 4 years without really asking myself why I wanted this. This made me a poor overachiever and I got bitter. Luckily I realized in time and did a massive course correction. I do not wish this to happen to anyone else, that's why I say, always work backwards.

So in short, yes you can and you should know at the high level what you want out of life. The details and implementation may change over time. The primary objective will not. My additional advice is do a review every year of your life goals, and ask yourself if that has changed. While my main objective has not changed over time, various sub-goals have changed (and those change more frequently), so make sure to update your sub-goals *every year*.

Hindsight is 20/20, but working backwards from where I am today, not only would I have planned out my primary objective, I would have put more thoughts into my sub-goals even earlier, and I would have started thinking about it even earlier, during high school. If I had did that, history would have been very different.
Arabesque wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 7:42 am Anecdotally, one of my kids graduated from Harvard a couple of years ago. Some of her friends had clear career goals, but two years out they are pursuing great opportunities and going in surprising directions. Some had "worthless" majors (English, classics), but managed to do just fine (one started at 6 figures). Others were a few years into a major, grew disinterested, and switch their paths. They struggled to find a job because of the switch, but guess what. They are doing amazing creative things as they remake themselves. I doubt Zucherberg started with a clear goal.

I don't encourage students to be art history majors (though I have a persistent niece, an art history major, who has a fabulous job). I have on occasion encouraged students to be English or gender studies majors. Some did very well.
There's nothing wrong with pursuing great opportunities... especially if it's a good one. While you have a goal in mine, you also need to be flexible enough to incorporate new developments in the world. In my old career I had to work until 55+ before I could be financially independent (FI). I saw opening/opportunities in tech, pivoted and moved, and now that it is cut down to working until 45-50(?). The key sub-goal still hasn't changed though... earn more money so that I can FI and have more options earlier in life.

Again I go back to numbers. How many of Harvard students with worthless majors end up fine? What percentage? What about 10-20 years down the road?
"That is the problem with the immaturity of kids these days. Instead of hiding behind this as an excuse, they should learn what they want. The epidemic of clueless college kids is also really a uniquely American thing. You're not going to college to party or enjoy, you're doing it for a competitive advantage, and one of the few opportunities to get it if you weren't born from an advantageous background. This kind of aimless party nonsense is also facilitated by the US college system, which allows people to "bum around" for the first 2 years."

Hmmm. I started college in 1977. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do for a career, and that was the case for many of my fellow students as well. That's not "kids these days," that's just the nature of being 18.

I wanted to be a writer, but thought that was impractical and had no idea how to go about it. So I started as a math/physics dual major because I was good at that and thought it seemed practical -- though I had no idea what sort of job I would find with that background. I switched to philosophy, primarily because I liked my logic class, then considered psychology (for reasons I can't recall).

My calculus instructor then told me my peers would be in medicine. I had never considered that, but it sounded like a better fit, so I became a pre-med major.

I took a year-long detour between college and med school to perform with a dance company, and found that I would rather be Mikhail Baryshnikov than Eugene Braunwald. Unfortunately, I didn't have Baryshnikov's talent.

Years later I burned out in medicine and became an equity analyst, before eventually returning to cardiology.

Things have worked out well, and it's been an interesting life so far, more interesting I think than if I had it mapped out from kindergarten.
sd323232
Posts: 629
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2018 4:45 pm

Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by sd323232 »

oldfort wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 12:29 pm
smitcat wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 7:22 am
oldfort wrote: Sat Jul 11, 2020 7:51 pm
smitcat wrote: Sat Jul 11, 2020 5:10 pm
oldfort wrote: Sat Jul 11, 2020 5:00 pm

Follow the money. Make money your number one priority when choosing careers/jobs.
That will definitely work to make the most funds in the least amount of time. These are some of the most common things that get in the way of following money and disrupting a great plan:
- do not get married
- do not have kids
- do not have hobbies
- best to not have friends either
Kids are expensive. Hobbies are expensive. Marriage and realistically divorce can be expensive, unless you luck out and marry a spouse who earns more than you do. Marriage, kids, and hobbies can all be reasons to prioritize making money your number one priority in your career. The people best positioned to follow their passion in some low paying career are those who want to remain perpetually single, have no desire for kids ever, and don't have any hobbies. If you plan to have a spouse, kids, or hobbies, then you can't afford to pursue a career based on whether you find the job interesting and fulfilling.
"If you plan to have a spouse, kids, or hobbies, then you can't afford to pursue a career based on whether you find the job interesting and fulfilling."
Unless you plan and choose with a focus on that choice.
You should take a look at this thread on a hopeless civil engineer, who probably got some bad advice about following their passion in college. She is 35, finally realizing money matters, and is looking to restart in a new career field 13 years behind everyone else.

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=318836
many people advice to follow passion so they can feel good about themselves after giving the advice. "To follow passion" is basically a YOLO advice, might as well tell the kid take out 100K student loan and put it all on red on roulette. it takes alot of courage to tell young 18 year old kid to get practical degree instead of phd in left-handed-puppetry (i borrowed it from dave ramsey).

thats why our nation is in huge student loan debt, kids go for easy degrees, their parent have no courage to tell them no.
smitcat
Posts: 6471
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:51 am

Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by smitcat »

sd323232 wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 9:40 pm
oldfort wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 12:29 pm
smitcat wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 7:22 am
oldfort wrote: Sat Jul 11, 2020 7:51 pm
smitcat wrote: Sat Jul 11, 2020 5:10 pm

That will definitely work to make the most funds in the least amount of time. These are some of the most common things that get in the way of following money and disrupting a great plan:
- do not get married
- do not have kids
- do not have hobbies
- best to not have friends either
Kids are expensive. Hobbies are expensive. Marriage and realistically divorce can be expensive, unless you luck out and marry a spouse who earns more than you do. Marriage, kids, and hobbies can all be reasons to prioritize making money your number one priority in your career. The people best positioned to follow their passion in some low paying career are those who want to remain perpetually single, have no desire for kids ever, and don't have any hobbies. If you plan to have a spouse, kids, or hobbies, then you can't afford to pursue a career based on whether you find the job interesting and fulfilling.
"If you plan to have a spouse, kids, or hobbies, then you can't afford to pursue a career based on whether you find the job interesting and fulfilling."
Unless you plan and choose with a focus on that choice.
You should take a look at this thread on a hopeless civil engineer, who probably got some bad advice about following their passion in college. She is 35, finally realizing money matters, and is looking to restart in a new career field 13 years behind everyone else.

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=318836
many people advice to follow passion so they can feel good about themselves after giving the advice. "To follow passion" is basically a YOLO advice, might as well tell the kid take out 100K student loan and put it all on red on roulette. it takes alot of courage to tell young 18 year old kid to get practical degree instead of phd in left-handed-puppetry (i borrowed it from dave ramsey).

thats why our nation is in huge student loan debt, kids go for easy degrees, their parent have no courage to tell them no.
"To follow passion" is basically a YOLO advice, might as well tell the kid take out 100K student loan and put it all on red on roulette. it takes alot of courage to tell young 18 year old kid to get practical degree instead of phd in left-handed-puppetry"

I guess there could be some examples constructed where the only choices were 1. a practical degree or 2. Left handed-puppetry
But I never really saw the problem as being one of choosing one or the other with that choice excluding the possibility that you can do both.
It has not been too much of a challenge to help others seek out a degree that is both something they really like and can make a good living (practical?) at the same time. It does maybe take a lot of time to have these discussions and learning experiences and it does take some work for all involved ... but the results are more than just the end of a task or the landing of a job.
User avatar
TomatoTomahto
Posts: 11123
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:48 pm

Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by TomatoTomahto »

TheNightsToCome wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 9:27 pmThings have worked out well, and it's been an interesting life so far, more interesting I think than if I had it mapped out from kindergarten.
... and very interesting to read. Good on ya! :beer
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.
KlangFool
Posts: 17689
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2008 12:35 pm

Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by KlangFool »

smitcat wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 7:20 am
I guess there could be some examples constructed where the only choices were 1. a practical degree or 2. Left handed-puppetry
But I never really saw the problem as being one of choosing one or the other with that choice excluding the possibility that you can do both.
It has not been too much of a challenge to help others seek out a degree that is both something they really like and can make a good living (practical?) at the same time. It does maybe take a lot of time to have these discussions and learning experiences and it does take some work for all involved ... but the results are more than just the end of a task or the landing of a job.
smitcat,

My son wanted to get a degree in Physics. I asked him what he planned to do with his degree. I asked him how is he going to get a job with that degree. He said he does not know. I told him I am not paying for a degree that he has no idea what to do with it. He doubled major in Mechanical Engineering and Physics. He dropped the Physics major after the first year.

My daughter wanted to major in Arts. I said go right ahead. She had interned in this area since high school. I knew that she had done the research and knew what she wanted to do with her Arts degree.

It is very simple.

Why pay for a degree when the kid has zero ideas and did zero research on what they are going to do with that degree?

KlangFool
sd323232
Posts: 629
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2018 4:45 pm

Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by sd323232 »

smitcat wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 7:20 am
sd323232 wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 9:40 pm
oldfort wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 12:29 pm
smitcat wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 7:22 am
oldfort wrote: Sat Jul 11, 2020 7:51 pm

Kids are expensive. Hobbies are expensive. Marriage and realistically divorce can be expensive, unless you luck out and marry a spouse who earns more than you do. Marriage, kids, and hobbies can all be reasons to prioritize making money your number one priority in your career. The people best positioned to follow their passion in some low paying career are those who want to remain perpetually single, have no desire for kids ever, and don't have any hobbies. If you plan to have a spouse, kids, or hobbies, then you can't afford to pursue a career based on whether you find the job interesting and fulfilling.
"If you plan to have a spouse, kids, or hobbies, then you can't afford to pursue a career based on whether you find the job interesting and fulfilling."
Unless you plan and choose with a focus on that choice.
You should take a look at this thread on a hopeless civil engineer, who probably got some bad advice about following their passion in college. She is 35, finally realizing money matters, and is looking to restart in a new career field 13 years behind everyone else.

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=318836
many people advice to follow passion so they can feel good about themselves after giving the advice. "To follow passion" is basically a YOLO advice, might as well tell the kid take out 100K student loan and put it all on red on roulette. it takes alot of courage to tell young 18 year old kid to get practical degree instead of phd in left-handed-puppetry (i borrowed it from dave ramsey).

thats why our nation is in huge student loan debt, kids go for easy degrees, their parent have no courage to tell them no.
"To follow passion" is basically a YOLO advice, might as well tell the kid take out 100K student loan and put it all on red on roulette. it takes alot of courage to tell young 18 year old kid to get practical degree instead of phd in left-handed-puppetry"

I guess there could be some examples constructed where the only choices were 1. a practical degree or 2. Left handed-puppetry
But I never really saw the problem as being one of choosing one or the other with that choice excluding the possibility that you can do both.
It has not been too much of a challenge to help others seek out a degree that is both something they really like and can make a good living (practical?) at the same time. It does maybe take a lot of time to have these discussions and learning experiences and it does take some work for all involved ... but the results are more than just the end of a task or the landing of a job.
OP asked what degree will lead to employment. Actually he didnt say if it is a well paying employment lol, so could be working at Walmart lol.

There are two side to finding job, going for money or going for passion. Passion may not pay well, but it doesn't mean it is wrong path. There is nothing wrong to live whole life in debt , it is not boglehead lifestyle, but then again, who says bogleheads way of life is the the right one? We bogleheads only think we are going in the right direction, but that doesnt mean we are going in right direction. In the end, we end up with good cash pile, that's it. But is it worth it? I dont know
smitcat
Posts: 6471
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:51 am

Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by smitcat »

KlangFool wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 8:05 am
smitcat wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 7:20 am
I guess there could be some examples constructed where the only choices were 1. a practical degree or 2. Left handed-puppetry
But I never really saw the problem as being one of choosing one or the other with that choice excluding the possibility that you can do both.
It has not been too much of a challenge to help others seek out a degree that is both something they really like and can make a good living (practical?) at the same time. It does maybe take a lot of time to have these discussions and learning experiences and it does take some work for all involved ... but the results are more than just the end of a task or the landing of a job.
smitcat,

My son wanted to get a degree in Physics. I asked him what he planned to do with his degree. I asked him how is he going to get a job with that degree. He said he does not know. I told him I am not paying for a degree that he has no idea what to do with it. He doubled major in Mechanical Engineering and Physics. He dropped the Physics major after the first year.

My daughter wanted to major in Arts. I said go right ahead. She had interned in this area since high school. I knew that she had done the research and knew what she wanted to do with her Arts degree.

It is very simple.

Why pay for a degree when the kid has zero ideas and did zero research on what they are going to do with that degree?

KlangFool
"Why pay for a degree when the kid has zero ideas and did zero research on what they are going to do with that degree?"
Point is to help them find a degree that is both satisfies some or most of their interests and still offers an ability to earn a decent income.
The fact of who is paying and how much is less important than the 'job' of helping them find a path.
KlangFool
Posts: 17689
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2008 12:35 pm

Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by KlangFool »

smitcat wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 8:13 am
KlangFool wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 8:05 am
smitcat wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 7:20 am
I guess there could be some examples constructed where the only choices were 1. a practical degree or 2. Left handed-puppetry
But I never really saw the problem as being one of choosing one or the other with that choice excluding the possibility that you can do both.
It has not been too much of a challenge to help others seek out a degree that is both something they really like and can make a good living (practical?) at the same time. It does maybe take a lot of time to have these discussions and learning experiences and it does take some work for all involved ... but the results are more than just the end of a task or the landing of a job.
smitcat,

My son wanted to get a degree in Physics. I asked him what he planned to do with his degree. I asked him how is he going to get a job with that degree. He said he does not know. I told him I am not paying for a degree that he has no idea what to do with it. He doubled major in Mechanical Engineering and Physics. He dropped the Physics major after the first year.

My daughter wanted to major in Arts. I said go right ahead. She had interned in this area since high school. I knew that she had done the research and knew what she wanted to do with her Arts degree.

It is very simple.

Why pay for a degree when the kid has zero ideas and did zero research on what they are going to do with that degree?

KlangFool
"Why pay for a degree when the kid has zero ideas and did zero research on what they are going to do with that degree?"
Point is to help them find a degree that is both satisfies some or most of their interests and still offers an ability to earn a decent income.
The fact of who is paying and how much is less important than the 'job' of helping them find a path.
smitcat,

<<The fact of who is paying and how much>>

I disagreed. I am not that rich. It matters to many of us.

A) I can only afford to pay for one degree.

B) If the undergraduate degree costs too much, I cannot afford to pay.

C) Or, if the kid has to take a student loan, I may end up supporting the kid after they graduated college.

At the high end of 80K per year, 4 X 80K = 320K. Not many of us saved that much money through our whole working lives.

KlangFool
sd323232
Posts: 629
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2018 4:45 pm

Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by sd323232 »

Klangfool,

If someone has 320k to pay for kids school, at this point just put 320k into vti and tell ur kid to go work at walmart, watch TV, play video games, goof off, the kid will be millionaire by 30-35 without any degree.
KlangFool
Posts: 17689
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2008 12:35 pm

Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by KlangFool »

sd323232 wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:01 am Klangfool,

If someone has 320k to pay for kids school, at this point just put 320k into vti and tell ur kid to go work at walmart, watch TV, play video games, goof off, the kid will be millionaire by 30-35 without any degree.
sd323232,

We are not rich enough.

One of my family members did that and much more.

A) Pay about 80K per year for each kid (3 kids). Paid the college education out of his annual income.

B) Gave about 200K to 300K to each kid before they graduated college.

KlangFool
sd323232
Posts: 629
Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2018 4:45 pm

Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by sd323232 »

KlangFool wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:51 am
sd323232 wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:01 am Klangfool,

If someone has 320k to pay for kids school, at this point just put 320k into vti and tell ur kid to go work at walmart, watch TV, play video games, goof off, the kid will be millionaire by 30-35 without any degree.
sd323232,

We are not rich enough.

One of my family members did that and much more.

A) Pay about 80K per year for each kid (3 kids). Paid the college education out of his annual income.

B) Gave about 200K to 300K to each kid before they graduated college.

KlangFool
I meant purely money wise move, if someone had 320k laying around, best roi is to invest it in vti.

Investing it into history degree, people will never see that money back again ever lol

If someone says money is just money and u cant put price on knowledge received in university that's fine lol
smitcat
Posts: 6471
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by smitcat »

KlangFool wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 8:30 am
smitcat wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 8:13 am
KlangFool wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 8:05 am
smitcat wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 7:20 am
I guess there could be some examples constructed where the only choices were 1. a practical degree or 2. Left handed-puppetry
But I never really saw the problem as being one of choosing one or the other with that choice excluding the possibility that you can do both.
It has not been too much of a challenge to help others seek out a degree that is both something they really like and can make a good living (practical?) at the same time. It does maybe take a lot of time to have these discussions and learning experiences and it does take some work for all involved ... but the results are more than just the end of a task or the landing of a job.
smitcat,

My son wanted to get a degree in Physics. I asked him what he planned to do with his degree. I asked him how is he going to get a job with that degree. He said he does not know. I told him I am not paying for a degree that he has no idea what to do with it. He doubled major in Mechanical Engineering and Physics. He dropped the Physics major after the first year.

My daughter wanted to major in Arts. I said go right ahead. She had interned in this area since high school. I knew that she had done the research and knew what she wanted to do with her Arts degree.

It is very simple.

Why pay for a degree when the kid has zero ideas and did zero research on what they are going to do with that degree?

KlangFool
"Why pay for a degree when the kid has zero ideas and did zero research on what they are going to do with that degree?"
Point is to help them find a degree that is both satisfies some or most of their interests and still offers an ability to earn a decent income.
The fact of who is paying and how much is less important than the 'job' of helping them find a path.
smitcat,

<<The fact of who is paying and how much>>

I disagreed. I am not that rich. It matters to many of us.

A) I can only afford to pay for one degree.

B) If the undergraduate degree costs too much, I cannot afford to pay.

C) Or, if the kid has to take a student loan, I may end up supporting the kid after they graduated college.

At the high end of 80K per year, 4 X 80K = 320K. Not many of us saved that much money through our whole working lives.

KlangFool
"I disagreed. I am not that rich. It matters to many of us.
A) I can only afford to pay for one degree.
B) If the undergraduate degree costs too much, I cannot afford to pay.
C) Or, if the kid has to take a student loan, I may end up supporting the kid after they graduated college."

Many kids go to college for free, many for well less than $80K per year, many take loans if they want a degree, many work their way through.
If you are able to help teach them which degree might not only be more enjoyable but also economically fruitful the costs are the least problem.
oldfort
Posts: 1735
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by oldfort »

sd323232 wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:01 am Klangfool,

If someone has 320k to pay for kids school, at this point just put 320k into vti and tell ur kid to go work at walmart, watch TV, play video games, goof off, the kid will be millionaire by 30-35 without any degree.
Maybe, the median income for a BA/BS is $52k and the median income for a high school graduate is $30k. The present value of a BA/BS for the median college graduate is close to $300k, depending on the discount rate you want to use. There are a lot of paths to increase the probability of making more than the median income.
AnEngineer
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by AnEngineer »

Note that "kids" can't take out loans for the full cost of most four year schools, only their parents.
oldfort
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by oldfort »

smitcat wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 7:20 am
sd323232 wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 9:40 pm
oldfort wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 12:29 pm
smitcat wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 7:22 am
oldfort wrote: Sat Jul 11, 2020 7:51 pm

Kids are expensive. Hobbies are expensive. Marriage and realistically divorce can be expensive, unless you luck out and marry a spouse who earns more than you do. Marriage, kids, and hobbies can all be reasons to prioritize making money your number one priority in your career. The people best positioned to follow their passion in some low paying career are those who want to remain perpetually single, have no desire for kids ever, and don't have any hobbies. If you plan to have a spouse, kids, or hobbies, then you can't afford to pursue a career based on whether you find the job interesting and fulfilling.
"If you plan to have a spouse, kids, or hobbies, then you can't afford to pursue a career based on whether you find the job interesting and fulfilling."
Unless you plan and choose with a focus on that choice.
You should take a look at this thread on a hopeless civil engineer, who probably got some bad advice about following their passion in college. She is 35, finally realizing money matters, and is looking to restart in a new career field 13 years behind everyone else.

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=318836
many people advice to follow passion so they can feel good about themselves after giving the advice. "To follow passion" is basically a YOLO advice, might as well tell the kid take out 100K student loan and put it all on red on roulette. it takes alot of courage to tell young 18 year old kid to get practical degree instead of phd in left-handed-puppetry (i borrowed it from dave ramsey).

thats why our nation is in huge student loan debt, kids go for easy degrees, their parent have no courage to tell them no.
"To follow passion" is basically a YOLO advice, might as well tell the kid take out 100K student loan and put it all on red on roulette. it takes alot of courage to tell young 18 year old kid to get practical degree instead of phd in left-handed-puppetry"

I guess there could be some examples constructed where the only choices were 1. a practical degree or 2. Left handed-puppetry
But I never really saw the problem as being one of choosing one or the other with that choice excluding the possibility that you can do both.
It has not been too much of a challenge to help others seek out a degree that is both something they really like and can make a good living (practical?) at the same time. It does maybe take a lot of time to have these discussions and learning experiences and it does take some work for all involved ... but the results are more than just the end of a task or the landing of a job.
The median starting pay in 2014 for a full time worker with a BA/BS was $35k. For a full time worker with a BA/BS, but no graduate degree, their earnings peak in their late 40s at $74k. Anyone who ever made more than $150k in their career, made a series of money maximizing choices. Few people on this board got to where they are by being content with earning a normal income. There may be some virtue signaling and false humility in saying I went into cardiology because I wanted to help people and not because I wanted to make a boatload of money.
KlangFool
Posts: 17689
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by KlangFool »

AnEngineer wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 11:47 am Note that "kids" can't take out loans for the full cost of most four year schools, only their parents.
Hence, the kids could only get into serious student loan debt with their parent "help".

KlangFool
fwellimort
Posts: 455
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by fwellimort »

As a young grad (only 2 years out of college) from a reputable school (Columbia Univ in NY), here's my opinion (from looking at my peers (and myself)) about 'which college degrees are worthwhile':
(#1, 2, 3 is there to reason out my thought for 'which college degrees are worthwhile')

1. Jobs are getting more competitive every year.
When I was 2nd year, one of my friends got an internship at Google having to only know simple StringBuilder/HashMap properties. The type that one could learn if he/she spent a day on a Coding Interview Book.
By my senior year, I evidenced students get Leetcode Hards for the same Google internships. The latter would take a couple months to prepare ahead of time.
I had a friend who was unfortunate to have 1 medium and 2 hard questions in a hour interview at a startup (+ introduction/asking questions at end). He was quite demoralized by the sheer difficulty of some of these interviews (compared to the interviews just the year previous): he is a bright fellow and is currently working at Google.

2. Practically all jobs are online today.
This has huge implications. It means that the barrier of entry to apply is near non-existant. And because companies don't have the time to interview them all, it does feel recruiters are going more and more by what the 'degree' states out of college.
And this is not just my suspicion. When I first got accepted to my current company, some of the new hires were not Computer Science majors. Just end of last year, I evidenced in the recruiting process for new hires that because so many students now have exposure to Python/Big Data/Machine Learning, practically any resumes without a 'Computer Science' degree was thrown out without much thought.
Recruiters seem to want more 'direct' terms on one's resume with all the competition on online applications (you are competing globally). For instance, if you want to break into software engineering, your degree better say Computer Science or have an internship at a known firm (or have a project that no new grads would be exposed to).
Talent doesn't matter if the student is never given the chance to interview.

3. There is luck involved in your first job searching: academics/skills are almost 'worthles' after a certain threshold.
The corporate world does not care if you can do Abstract Topology or only Pre-Calculus. It doesn't care if you studied about Operating Systems or don't know much outside Introduction to Data Structures.
Once you 'pass the threshold' and manage to grab an interview, it doesn't matter if you studied 100+ hours a week or 1 hour a week at college. You just have to perform 'well' on the interview and hope the interviewer is not a douche (and that the questions you get asked are questions you can solve [please prepare ahead of time]).

4. Some degrees just have more 'worth' than other degrees.
It's the law of supply and demand. If there's 1,000 art degrees for 1 art related career, then not only will grabbing the job be very difficult, but also the pay will be very low (and also the working conditions).

In general, the higher the barrier of entry to a field, the more 'marketable' one's major is to the market.
These majors tend to be heavily math focused (cause most people dislike math) and/or have lots of sitting down hours.
Hence well paying careers tend to be in : medical (high barrier of entry), computer science (more math focused than most majors), certain engineering fields (again, more math focused than most majors).

5. The world is becoming more and more dependent on technological advancement. And industries in the US are turning more and more to a service based industry.
You don't want to be the horse in a car revolution. It doesn't matter how passionate you are at being a horse (or even how proficient you are at being a horse), cars would replace you eventually (you become 'outdated'). With society progressing in technological innovation, it's probably best to be part of that advancement.
And what is the seeming 'future' of progress? Software/Medical/Engineering.

6. Hence, I would recommend a field in software/medical/engineering.
I am assuming you have the basics down: communication/writing/speaking/critical thinking. These should be a 'given' regardless of major. If you aren't confident with some of these skills, please practice them in your free time. You don't need 4 years for those.

If you are interested in a career in finance, accounting/actuarial science is probably the way to go: again, the more 'math heavy' side of the field.
If you dislike math, then learn to love it. Also, there's nothing stopping one from minoring (or double/triple majoring) in the arts.
My friends have minors/majors in buddhism/theology/philosophy/japanese/etc with their computer science degrees.
I have taken many philosophy and pure mathematics courses during college (enough to even consider a phd school in pure mathematics)
You can always make the time for yourself for studies in your hobby. But please don't confuse hobby with the job market. There's already enough resources including research papers out there which concludes 'follow your passion' to be paths of regret for many.

7. Minimize debt. All my college friends who graduated Columbia with debt deeply regrets their experiences: and some have very well paying careers.
Last thing you want is college debt dictate the career you take out of college. The real world doesn't care much about college degree after a certain threshold (outside some professional schools like Law but that's again, at grad level [not undergrad]).

8. Check out BLS. Find a field that you would be fine working at AND see if the pay/job outlook is good.
I don't care if you have passion for say, filling ketchup in bottles. If there's no demand for it and/or the pay is so low that you have no real way to afford your lifestyle, then I would highly recommend against the field.
Think about it. Employment is a two way street. Why should you care about a job in which the bosses doesn't care about you: making you work 7 days a week at minimum wage without rest including say random 2:30 AM calls.
An example of BLS is (say for software engineering): https://www.bls.gov/ooh/Computer-and-In ... lopers.htm
Look at the job outlook, the requirements, etc. Also, do look at the benefits and all of different companies you 'might' consider.

9. Check out job descriptions/applicant forms/etc of the companies in the field you are interested in
Say you want to work at Disney in the streaming service. Just give a glance at some of job postings:
https://g.co/kgs/rmim9L
https://g.co/kgs/qGzkHk
https://g.co/kgs/qevbcP
"Technology-wise, you will help build highly scalable Java/Scala based applications leveraging Amazon Web Services Infrastructure and various other tools in a collaborative and supportive engineering team and environment."
"Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior, Graduate Level student or recent graduate (within 6 months of graduating) pursuing a Bachelor's or Master's Degree in Economics, Finance, Business, Engineering, Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Management Information Systems or related field."
"Experience diving deep on data analytics. Extra credit: SQL, and/or experience using usage analytics to improve customer journey process."
Surprisingly, almost all the internships want some sort of coding exposure. Even Marketing wants experience with SQL while also having understanding of video, etc.


10 Note: Almost all white collar jobs today use some sort of 'data'. So regardless of the path you take, you will need to have some skills with stuffs like SQL and hence a computer science degree today will have an advantage over you at many job interviews (you just might not be given an interview because you don't have the 'right degree')
Programming in today's age is almost unavoidable in any field. Most white collar fields as US turns more of a service based country are becoming some sort of software + <another field>.


Pick a field you would be tolerant of. You will be spending a significant portion of your life working.
But, be sure to be practical: minimize (none if possible) debt, a marketable major (double/triple/minor if needed if you have other hobbies unless your family is already well off) in which you can afford a place to stay/have food/have some for retirement/have some for entertainment
And make sure the working conditions of your workplace is tolerant for you. Imagine the standard for your field is 5 days of vacation a year or near minimum wage or in some small gray cubicle with lots of micro management.
Or imagine the field you are in is almost a monopoly and there's no companies to move around so even if you dislike the working condition, you cannot do much about it.

And, do note you can always learn out of college. I learnt so much about finance out of college: hundreds of research papers/books/videos ranging from 'what is a stock' all the way to 'how stocks were evaluated historically'/'beating the market through <leverage/factor/behaviour econmics/stochastics/etc>'.
There's nothing stopping you from reading plethora of books totally unrelated to your major in your lifetime. Whose to state one cannot read/analyze 'A Treatise of Human Nature' by Dave Hume simply because one majored in say, dentistry (grad school).
Last edited by fwellimort on Wed Jul 15, 2020 11:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.
smitcat
Posts: 6471
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:51 am

Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by smitcat »

oldfort wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 12:03 pm
smitcat wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 7:20 am
sd323232 wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 9:40 pm
oldfort wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 12:29 pm
smitcat wrote: Sun Jul 12, 2020 7:22 am

"If you plan to have a spouse, kids, or hobbies, then you can't afford to pursue a career based on whether you find the job interesting and fulfilling."
Unless you plan and choose with a focus on that choice.
You should take a look at this thread on a hopeless civil engineer, who probably got some bad advice about following their passion in college. She is 35, finally realizing money matters, and is looking to restart in a new career field 13 years behind everyone else.

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=318836
many people advice to follow passion so they can feel good about themselves after giving the advice. "To follow passion" is basically a YOLO advice, might as well tell the kid take out 100K student loan and put it all on red on roulette. it takes alot of courage to tell young 18 year old kid to get practical degree instead of phd in left-handed-puppetry (i borrowed it from dave ramsey).

thats why our nation is in huge student loan debt, kids go for easy degrees, their parent have no courage to tell them no.
"To follow passion" is basically a YOLO advice, might as well tell the kid take out 100K student loan and put it all on red on roulette. it takes alot of courage to tell young 18 year old kid to get practical degree instead of phd in left-handed-puppetry"

I guess there could be some examples constructed where the only choices were 1. a practical degree or 2. Left handed-puppetry
But I never really saw the problem as being one of choosing one or the other with that choice excluding the possibility that you can do both.
It has not been too much of a challenge to help others seek out a degree that is both something they really like and can make a good living (practical?) at the same time. It does maybe take a lot of time to have these discussions and learning experiences and it does take some work for all involved ... but the results are more than just the end of a task or the landing of a job.
The median starting pay in 2014 for a full time worker with a BA/BS was $35k. For a full time worker with a BA/BS, but no graduate degree, their earnings peak in their late 40s at $74k. Anyone who ever made more than $150k in their career, made a series of money maximizing choices. Few people on this board got to where they are by being content with earning a normal income. There may be some virtue signaling and false humility in saying I went into cardiology because I wanted to help people and not because I wanted to make a boatload of money.
"Anyone who ever made more than $150k in their career, made a series of money maximizing choices."
That does not mean that they must not like what they do to make the money - the only point I am making is that you can do something pretty rewarding and still make money.
fwellimort
Posts: 455
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by fwellimort »

smitcat wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 2:17 pm "Anyone who ever made more than $150k in their career, made a series of money maximizing choices."
That does not mean that they must not like what they do to make the money - the only point I am making is that you can do something pretty rewarding and still make money.
I think what you are trying to state is find a balance.
Find a balance between what you would be tolerant of doing while being realistic.

Do note most grads would want shelter/food/health care/entertainment/retirement funding/side money.
Avoid a career that might make one struggling for even the basics like health care.

Not everyone wants to be some specialized surgeon (one of the 'best' traditional ways to maximize income given one minimizes debt during undergrad/grad).
But not everyone wants to be working 3 jobs to feed him/herself due to majoring in 'German Pocahontas Diversity Management Technological Studies' (just a made up example and the example wasn't made to be rude).

Just note that if a field is something that sounds easy/nice to do, more than likely, supply and demand will state that there would most likely be more supply than demand: hence working conditions/pay would most likely be worse than a field with more demand than supply.

For instance, while a phd in psychology (or med school/etc) pays well, an undergrad in pre-med/psychology is almost worthless.
Barrier of entry in a market determined by supply/demand is a thing.

Do some research ahead of time and choose a major from your own risk tolerance. Do note if everyone 'followed his/her passions', society could not function because there would be a lack of people working on your garbage/sewage/etc. Be somewhat realistic because the 'follow your passion' is also quite rude of a saying because lots of jobs that are critical for society to function probably aren't the 'passion' those workers had when they were younger.
sd323232
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by sd323232 »

Pick a field you would be tolerant of. You will be spending a significant portion of your life working.
But, be sure to be practical: minimize (none if possible) debt, a marketable major (double/triple/minor if needed if you have other hobbies unless your family is already well off) in which you can afford a place to stay/have food/have some for retirement/have some for entertainment
And make sure the working conditions of your workplace is tolerant for you. Imagine the standard for your field is 5 days of vacation a year or near minimum wage or in some small gray cubicle with lots of micro management.
Or imagine the field you are in is almost a monopoly and there's no companies to move around so even if you dislike the working condition, you cannot do much about it.

[/quote]

"You will be spending a significant portion of your life working."

Fro a young person like you, I really hope you dont believe this statement you wrote.

This is a lie society teaches u: buy house, car, and work all ur life to maintain your lifestyle.

Dont believe it. You dont have to work significant portion of ur life, u can be financially independant by early 30s. It is ur choice.

Look at all financial blogs our there, mr. Money mustache etc. Working all your life will be your own choice, not a requirement.
Jack FFR1846
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

AAA wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 8:22 pm
I just want to point out what would for me be an unfavorable characteristic of this work, namely, that it seems every few years a lot of what you know becomes obsolete (FORTRAN anyone?) and you have to continually refresh a large part of your knowledge base.
My son's a structural engineer. A standard modelling software is written in Fortran.
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid
fwellimort
Posts: 455
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by fwellimort »

sd323232 wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 2:37 pm Fro a young person like you, I really hope you dont believe this statement you wrote.
This is a lie society teaches u: buy house, car, and work all ur life to maintain your lifestyle.
Dont believe it. You dont have to work significant portion of ur life, u can be financially independant by early 30s. It is ur choice.
Look at all financial blogs our there, mr. Money mustache etc. Working all your life will be your own choice, not a requirement.
I am fortunate to be in a field in which I am tolerant of and am well paid (and I'm not a spender [nor my family has been]).
I have been 'coding' since 3/4th grade and always enjoyed theoretical mathematics.

I'm working as a software engineer today.
Let's just say in terms of pre-tax income (outside insurance/tax), I spend around 20% on rent/everyday expenses. While I 'can' be financially independent by early 30s (historically), after lots of readings about stock market returns, I am quite unsure of that statement.
But yes, I do plan to feel 'financially independent' by early 30s in the fact that I want to have a family without having to worry about 'retirement': I don't want my retirement to be a hindrance to my future kids. As of 'working all your life', no one knows the future.
Stocks can crash and never really recover in my lifetime.
Maybe with all this wealth inequality, there might be damaging results to stock market returns long term. Who knows. I'm just satisfied currently that I can have shelter/food without having to worry for 'tomorrow' considering in the next two months, over a third of american would be unable to pay their rent/mortgages.
Last edited by fwellimort on Mon Jul 13, 2020 3:22 pm, edited 5 times in total.
wfrobinette
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by wfrobinette »

Big Dog wrote: Fri Jun 26, 2020 11:08 pm Big Data analysis is in great demand, so any major will work as long as one takes a bunch of quant electives.
Frankly, I'd dual major in business and analytics.
wfrobinette
Posts: 1328
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by wfrobinette »

alex123711 wrote: Fri Jun 26, 2020 10:26 pm Which degrees are still worthwhile/ likely to lead to employment these days?
What excites you?
cadreamer2015
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by cadreamer2015 »

Plumbing or any other skilled trade we won't be outsourcing to India and/or China.
De gustibus non est disputandum
oldfort
Posts: 1735
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by oldfort »

fwellimort wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 2:32 pm
smitcat wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 2:17 pm "Anyone who ever made more than $150k in their career, made a series of money maximizing choices."
That does not mean that they must not like what they do to make the money - the only point I am making is that you can do something pretty rewarding and still make money.
I think what you are trying to state is find a balance.
Find a balance between what you would be tolerant of doing while being realistic.

Do note most grads would want shelter/food/health care/entertainment/retirement funding/side money.
Avoid a career that might make one struggling for even the basics like health care.

Not everyone wants to be some specialized surgeon (one of the 'best' traditional ways to maximize income given one minimizes debt during undergrad/grad).
But not everyone wants to be working 3 jobs to feed him/herself due to majoring in 'German Pocahontas Diversity Management Technological Studies' (just a made up example and the example wasn't made to be rude).

Just note that if a field is something that sounds easy/nice to do, more than likely, supply and demand will state that there would most likely be more supply than demand: hence working conditions/pay would most likely be worse than a field with more demand than supply.

For instance, while a phd in psychology (or med school/etc) pays well, an undergrad in pre-med/psychology is almost worthless.
Barrier of entry in a market determined by supply/demand is a thing.

Do some research ahead of time and choose a major from your own risk tolerance. Do note if everyone 'followed his/her passions', society could not function because there would be a lack of people working on your garbage/sewage/etc. Be somewhat realistic because the 'follow your passion' is also quite rude of a saying because lots of jobs that are critical for society to function probably aren't the 'passion' those workers had when they were younger.
The balance should be on having shelter/food/health care/entertainment/retirement funding/side money. The median household income is $63k. If you try to support a family of four on $63k, it's going to be a long, slow slog to reach FI before you die. You would be much better off, going into some lucrative profession like CS, where some people earn $140k TC a couple years out of school, vs. following your passion in art history or whatever. I wish someone would have told me to major in CS or else get the prereqs for med school vs nonsense about following your passion.
TechFI
Posts: 130
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by TechFI »

fwellimort wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 1:54 pm As a young grad (only 2 years out of college) from a reputable school (Columbia Univ in NY), here's my opinion (from looking at my peers (and myself)) about 'which college degrees are worthwhile':
(#1, 2, 3 is there to reason out my thought for 'which college degrees are worthwhile')

..................
Great advice. If I had thought like you when I was in my 20s, I would be at least halfway to fatFIRE by now. Luckily for me, even though I don't have a CS degree, I've been a nerd and closet techie all my life, and could pivot although that took some serious effort.

I'll add on and just say focus on the money, and if you really must grow your 'passion' do it on your free time.

A lot of 'nice stories' I've noticed out there and on this forum usually have this trend. "I did not follow my passion, I was unhappy. Ultimately I switched and it turned out for the better'. Clearly neglecting the fact that if they had not chased money earlier in the life, they would not have the financial capacity to pursue their 'passion' (which is typically a fiscally negative choice).
TechFI
Posts: 130
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by TechFI »

oldfort wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 3:57 pm The balance should be on having shelter/food/health care/entertainment/retirement funding/side money. The median household income is $63k. If you try to support a family of four on $63k, it's going to be a long, slow slog to reach FI before you die. You would be much better off, going into some lucrative profession like CS, where some people earn $140k TC a couple years out of school, vs. following your passion in art history or whatever. I wish someone would have told me to major in CS or else get the prereqs for med school vs nonsense about following your passion.
At least you've made it (or at least I hope you're on the right track now). Sometimes I may be "too hard" on myself. As long as we make the best decisions at that time (given whatever limited information and experience, remember hindsight is 20/20), I think that's all we can realistically expect for ourselves.
international001
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by international001 »

fwellimort wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 1:54 pm An example of BLS is (say for software engineering): https://www.bls.gov/ooh/Computer-and-In ... lopers.htm

Does BLS provide more granular salary (starting salary, mid-career salary, variance, ...)

Can I sort all the occupations from higher to lower pay?
international001
Posts: 1598
Joined: Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:31 pm

Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by international001 »

KlangFool wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 8:05 am

My son wanted to get a degree in Physics. I asked him what he planned to do with his degree. I asked him how is he going to get a job with that degree. He said he does not know. I told him I am not paying for a degree that he has no idea what to do with it. He doubled major in Mechanical Engineering and Physics. He dropped the Physics major after the first year.

My daughter wanted to major in Arts. I said go right ahead. She had interned in this area since high school. I knew that she had done the research and knew what she wanted to do with her Arts degree.

It is very simple.

Why pay for a degree when the kid has zero ideas and did zero research on what they are going to do with that degree?

KlangFool
I heard more and more than degrees are more important as a selection mechanism, not as much as to give you any particular kind of knowledge.
This may be most true in some tech industries like Google that want to teach you everything from scratch, not as much in things like medicine.

I think the uncommon thing is for an 18 year old to know exactly what he wants to do. Going in something generic like math or physics may be a first good step. Companies value more and more this generic skills and the critical thinking that comes with it. Education investing is not as straightforward as an index fund.
KlangFool
Posts: 17689
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2008 12:35 pm

Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by KlangFool »

international001 wrote: Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:20 am
Going in something generic like math or physics may be a first good step. Companies value more and more this generic skills and the critical thinking that comes with it. Education investing is not as straightforward as an index fund.
international001,

I disagreed.

<<Companies value more and more this generic skills and the critical thinking that comes with it.>>

Really as compared to what? And, in what jobs? I have not come across any scenarios where this makes any sense. Those degrees need a graduate-level degree in order to be useful.

<<Going in something generic like math or physics may be a first good step.>>

First step to what? Not for a job.

KlangFool
fwellimort
Posts: 455
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2019 9:41 am

Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by fwellimort »

international001 wrote: Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:16 am
fwellimort wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 1:54 pm An example of BLS is (say for software engineering): https://www.bls.gov/ooh/Computer-and-In ... lopers.htm

Does BLS provide more granular salary (starting salary, mid-career salary, variance, ...)

Can I sort all the occupations from higher to lower pay?
bls has lots of tools available. It was one of the first reputable sites I utilized during high school to choose a college degree.
I think almost all american high school graduates should check out bls before graduating. It is a tremendous resource the US govt hands out to an individual.

For around 808 jobs in a list that displays in quick summary: Entry Level Education, On the job training, Projected number of new jobs, projected growth rate, 2019 median pay
https://www.bls.gov/ooh/occupation-finder.htm

However, that link won't be as helpful as the homepage itself: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/home.htm
You can look through occupation groups such as : Legal / Community and Social Services / Math / Military / Entertainment and Sports / etc
so you can see the different jobs in a field you are quite intrigued with

You can even sort by entry level education or the highest paying or the fastest growing (projected) or most new jobs.
In general, I would recommend a field with 'much faster than average' projected growth rate and to avoid fields in which number of new jobs is projected to be declining.

Of course, for each field, it also goes much into detail about state to state level and all: sometimes there's just no jobs in one's area and one is better off moving.

For instance, say I am interested in Math.
And I start the site here: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/home.htm
On occupation group, I would click Math. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/home.htm
I would get 3 occupations listed: actuaries, mathematicians and statisticians, operation research analysts
Not knowing any of them, I would just click any of the three, say 'mathematicians and statisticians': https://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/mathematic ... icians.htm
I would read through what people in the career do, the work environment, how to become one, pay, job outlook, state and area data, and even better: I would be able to check 'Similar Occupations' for other similar careers: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/mathematic ... .htm#tab-8
From here, I would be able to check out 10 different careers that are similar to a career in mathematician (some different from the previous 3).
It is a phenomenal resource overall as a starter. It's rare for government related resources to be useful and informative (and up to date).

For more information about starting salary, median salary, variance:
No. bls doesn't exactly do that. If there were one thing I wish bls would have, it's starting salaries.
That said, on 'state and area data', it does have something similar: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes152021.htm#st
It has the 10, 25, 50, 75, 90 percentile salaries and where the jobs are: it seems the jobs for a mathematician are all concentrated in a few states


For starting salaries, it is probably best to check out career reports of peer schools.
For instance, I picked Rice University, Carnegie Mellon University, Stanford University, MIT, Cornell, Brown, Vanderbilt University, Princeton University (and Columbia University in NY) when trying to figure out the median starting salary in my field.
Let's say I was looking at Computer Science, I would look through each school, say CMU:
https://www.cmu.edu/career/about-us/sal ... board.html
And check out which companies are hiring at the school, the pay out of college:
2019 CS graduates for bachelor's in CMU had: average salary of $118,152, median of $116,000, with min/max salary of $50~175,000.
with most people going to California/NY/Washington for jobs at Google/Facebook/AirBnb/etc.
** An easy way to search is go to google and type "<School name> graduates career report <Year e.g.: 2018> filetype:pdf"

Some schools are more resourceful. Say Vanderbilt: https://engineering.vanderbilt.edu/docs ... lights.pdf
Most Vanderbilt CS graduates work at Capital One. Vanderbilt even tells the national average/median of starting salary and its national average/median and what percentage of students get at least one job offer.


There are many resources out there. I would state this: at end of day, a college degree is an investment. And like all investments, please do your research.
There's nothing to feel embarrassed about digging through all kinds of schools in the US that might be peer schools for your school (if your school does not have sufficient information).
There's also resources (quite off) like payscale, paysa, usnews, glassdoor, etc.
For instance, payscale shows the list of highest paying undergrad majors: https://www.payscale.com/college-salary ... /bachelors
And early/mid career pay

Go dig through all kinds of resources out there. You might also learn that jobs like mathematicians are some of the 'happiest' jobs out there ;)

I hope this was a bit more helpful.

Edit: You can always youtube 'Day in the life of [insert occupation]' to see a romanticized view of the career. And don't forget one can keep searching for more info about a career.
Last edited by fwellimort on Thu Jul 16, 2020 2:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
fwellimort
Posts: 455
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2019 9:41 am

Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by fwellimort »

international001 wrote: Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:20 am I think the uncommon thing is for an 18 year old to know exactly what he wants to do. Going in something generic like math or physics may be a first good step. Companies value more and more this generic skills and the critical thinking that comes with it. Education investing is not as straightforward as an index fund.
My personal opinion is take a lot of courses first two semesters in college to figure out what careers might be of interest.

I went to college wondering if I would enjoy: engineering, computer science, pure mathematics, applied mathematics
So I took all the common courses for those majors first two semesters (and by taking more than the 'usual' courseload first semester or two, one is able to create a leeway).

And I was able to follow all without a problem while having a student job that was quite taxing (physically).
And those AP credits are really helpful: I understand some schools like CalTech do not take AP Calc BC credits due to how easy the AP courses are relative to the college course itself, but for most schools I know, they do accept at least Calc BC.

Not having to take Calc 1, 2 at start of college and taking more courses than most does free up choices.

I went with the intention of even potentially majoring in all 4 majors: physics, engineering (not even sure which type), computer science, pure mathematics.

I think that might be a better mindset than attending college with the thought of 'let me do something generic'.
And yes, while companies value generic skills, more and more companies due to usage of online applications are looking more towards specific degrees for even an interview.

I would say all my math major friends either ended up changing majors to Computer Science or had to go for a Phd. The job market is quite harsh even with a Math major from Columbia Univ in NY.
And the people I know who got a physics undergrad ended up all going for at least master's: master in mechanical engineering, nuclear engineering, teaching, phd program.
In that aspect, I would state students should opt for these generic majors if they are interested in a phd (and these students tend to know this ahead of time). My pure mathematics phd friends were excited at the prospects of being a researcher ahead of time. Plus, a phd in math/physics do earn quite well unlike some other fields (and the field consistently ranks as some of the happiest fields out there).

The name of a college degree states nothing of what a student learnt in college.
For instance, while my degree mentions Applied Mathematics, I have taken only 1 Applied Mathematics course. In fact, my degree was through substituting all Pure Mathematics courses with Applied Mathematics courses: as a theoretical mathematics major would require more liberal art courses.
And while my degree does not mention anything about philosophy, I have taken quite a few philosophy courses.

I know a Chemistry friend who during high school finished up to Modern Abstract Algebra.
What says on a piece of paper should ideally be relevant to what the workforce wants. What one decides to 'actually' study is up to the individual.
And of course, it also depends on the school. Some schools are more liberal with requirements while some schools are more strict.
Topic Author
alex123711
Posts: 242
Joined: Sun May 20, 2018 5:01 am

Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by alex123711 »

oldfort wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 3:57 pm
fwellimort wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 2:32 pm
smitcat wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 2:17 pm "Anyone who ever made more than $150k in their career, made a series of money maximizing choices."
That does not mean that they must not like what they do to make the money - the only point I am making is that you can do something pretty rewarding and still make money.
I think what you are trying to state is find a balance.
Find a balance between what you would be tolerant of doing while being realistic.

Do note most grads would want shelter/food/health care/entertainment/retirement funding/side money.
Avoid a career that might make one struggling for even the basics like health care.

Not everyone wants to be some specialized surgeon (one of the 'best' traditional ways to maximize income given one minimizes debt during undergrad/grad).
But not everyone wants to be working 3 jobs to feed him/herself due to majoring in 'German Pocahontas Diversity Management Technological Studies' (just a made up example and the example wasn't made to be rude).

Just note that if a field is something that sounds easy/nice to do, more than likely, supply and demand will state that there would most likely be more supply than demand: hence working conditions/pay would most likely be worse than a field with more demand than supply.

For instance, while a phd in psychology (or med school/etc) pays well, an undergrad in pre-med/psychology is almost worthless.
Barrier of entry in a market determined by supply/demand is a thing.

Do some research ahead of time and choose a major from your own risk tolerance. Do note if everyone 'followed his/her passions', society could not function because there would be a lack of people working on your garbage/sewage/etc. Be somewhat realistic because the 'follow your passion' is also quite rude of a saying because lots of jobs that are critical for society to function probably aren't the 'passion' those workers had when they were younger.
The balance should be on having shelter/food/health care/entertainment/retirement funding/side money. The median household income is $63k. If you try to support a family of four on $63k, it's going to be a long, slow slog to reach FI before you die. You would be much better off, going into some lucrative profession like CS, where some people earn $140k TC a couple years out of school, vs. following your passion in art history or whatever. I wish someone would have told me to major in CS or else get the prereqs for med school vs nonsense about following your passion.
Totally agree
chmcnm
Posts: 90
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2014 9:23 pm

Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by chmcnm »

A degree that let's you graduate with no debt first and foremost. In-fact, a college degree isn't always necessary. A kid in my son's graduating HS class this year is already a paid software developer. Trades are an option too. The guy who replaced my roof can't find people. He had some Russians helping him. Good workers.

I think the key is to find out what type of personality you have and plan accordingly. Why fight it. Salesmen definitely have certain personality traits that help them. My SIL is a high level executive in HR. She has "that" personality of being able to make you feel like you're the only one in the world when she's talking to you.

But if you're intent on college I know a few degrees that probably aren't valued like Pre-law or pre-med. Maybe criminal justice. Any non-STEM degree that's very generic or too specific would raise a red flag.

Once you're in college I would work somewhere doing something no matter what it is. Show employers you know how to work. Looking at colleges last year the school's with Co-op programs were very interesting. Pretty much all the kids mentioned being hired because the "knew" how to work.

To answer the question though, anything engineering related would be top choice. Some Industrial Engineering programs offer data science and analytics concentrations. Chem E's make the most starting out. You can work in finance or teach if you want to.
coachd50
Posts: 382
Joined: Sun Oct 22, 2017 10:12 am

Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by coachd50 »

alex123711 wrote: Wed Jul 22, 2020 7:28 am
oldfort wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 3:57 pm
fwellimort wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 2:32 pm
smitcat wrote: Mon Jul 13, 2020 2:17 pm "Anyone who ever made more than $150k in their career, made a series of money maximizing choices."
That does not mean that they must not like what they do to make the money - the only point I am making is that you can do something pretty rewarding and still make money.
I think what you are trying to state is find a balance.
Find a balance between what you would be tolerant of doing while being realistic.

Do note most grads would want shelter/food/health care/entertainment/retirement funding/side money.
Avoid a career that might make one struggling for even the basics like health care.

Not everyone wants to be some specialized surgeon (one of the 'best' traditional ways to maximize income given one minimizes debt during undergrad/grad).
But not everyone wants to be working 3 jobs to feed him/herself due to majoring in 'German Pocahontas Diversity Management Technological Studies' (just a made up example and the example wasn't made to be rude).

Just note that if a field is something that sounds easy/nice to do, more than likely, supply and demand will state that there would most likely be more supply than demand: hence working conditions/pay would most likely be worse than a field with more demand than supply.

For instance, while a phd in psychology (or med school/etc) pays well, an undergrad in pre-med/psychology is almost worthless.
Barrier of entry in a market determined by supply/demand is a thing.

Do some research ahead of time and choose a major from your own risk tolerance. Do note if everyone 'followed his/her passions', society could not function because there would be a lack of people working on your garbage/sewage/etc. Be somewhat realistic because the 'follow your passion' is also quite rude of a saying because lots of jobs that are critical for society to function probably aren't the 'passion' those workers had when they were younger.
The balance should be on having shelter/food/health care/entertainment/retirement funding/side money. The median household income is $63k. If you try to support a family of four on $63k, it's going to be a long, slow slog to reach FI before you die. You would be much better off, going into some lucrative profession like CS, where some people earn $140k TC a couple years out of school, vs. following your passion in art history or whatever. I wish someone would have told me to major in CS or else get the prereqs for med school vs nonsense about following your passion.
Totally agree
Or perhaps the balance should be recognizing that following a passion in art history may preclude raising a family of 4.
Topic Author
alex123711
Posts: 242
Joined: Sun May 20, 2018 5:01 am

Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by alex123711 »

chmcnm wrote: Wed Jul 22, 2020 12:05 pm A degree that let's you graduate with no debt first and foremost. In-fact, a college degree isn't always necessary. A kid in my son's graduating HS class this year is already a paid software developer. Trades are an option too. The guy who replaced my roof can't find people. He had some Russians helping him. Good workers.

I think the key is to find out what type of personality you have and plan accordingly. Why fight it. Salesmen definitely have certain personality traits that help them. My SIL is a high level executive in HR. She has "that" personality of being able to make you feel like you're the only one in the world when she's talking to you.

But if you're intent on college I know a few degrees that probably aren't valued like Pre-law or pre-med. Maybe criminal justice. Any non-STEM degree that's very generic or too specific would raise a red flag.

Once you're in college I would work somewhere doing something no matter what it is. Show employers you know how to work. Looking at colleges last year the school's with Co-op programs were very interesting. Pretty much all the kids mentioned being hired because the "knew" how to work.

To answer the question though, anything engineering related would be top choice. Some Industrial Engineering programs offer data science and analytics concentrations. Chem E's make the most starting out. You can work in finance or teach if you want to.
That's probably the problem right there, he can't find anyone for the pay he is offering, probably low wages if he can't find anyone.
jarjarM
Posts: 276
Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2018 1:21 pm

Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by jarjarM »

I think it really depends on the person's interest and strength. There are Russian Lit major in my company doing data science, dance/music major leading program management, engineering major doing finance. So what your major is in school isn't always where you end up :beer

Of course, given the state of the world now, maybe some survival courses is more appropriate :idea:
jharkin
Posts: 2596
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2016 7:14 am
Location: Boston suburbs

Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by jharkin »

TechFI wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 2:23 pm
HawkeyePierce wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 10:53 am Employment in computer science has and continues to skyrocket. Common objections are:
  • It's concentrated in a small number of HCOL areas
  • It's vulnerable to offshoring
  • You need to work 60-80 hour weeks to be successful
  • The number of six-figure jobs in CS are small
  • You have to attend an elite school to have a chance
IME, none of those are true. The big tech companies don't use much (if any) offshoring and work-life balance can be good, but is very dependent on your specific team. Remote work and satellite offices offer ample opportunity in MCOL areas like Atlanta, Denver, Phoenix and Austin.

My napkin-math comes to a couple hundred thousand jobs at companies with Silicon Valley-level compensation.

Demand for new grad software engineers continues, even during this recession. My employer hasn't cut back our new grad hiring program at all. We also hire from a far larger list of schools than many expect, including lots and lots of state schools. You don't have to attend Stanford or CMU to have a chance. Most of my coworkers attended CU Boulder or Colorado School of Mines.

What is true about this field:
  • Those who enter CS just for the money usually burn out quickly. This is a mentally demanding field
  • Getting hired can involve a lot of dumb luck, especially at the entry level
  • There is intense stratification in compensation. Software engineers are non-tech companies see their comp cap out fast while comp at tech companies quickly rises into the mid six figures
I'll add more perspectives and some difference in opinion:
- It's concentrated in HCOL. This is overall a good thing because salaries in tech scale more than COL. Also since there is a concentration of tech companies, so you can switch employers without ever moving again, and it also makes it easier to career hop.
- I'd refute MCOL being a good option as those are satellite offices and your career will suffer. It's worth it to move there to "rest and vest" as we like to describe it, but early career be in HQ where the action is at.
- It's still vulnerable to offshoring. Just because it hasn't been done successfully doesn't mean it won't be attempted again. This COVID-19 situation threatens to change the way work is done, and I fear it will lead to more outsourcing/offshoring.
- It depends on the company. Netflix/Facebook/Amazon have long hours like 60+hrs/wk others like Google/Microsoft have your regular 40hrs/wk. Even in the worst case, it pales to comparison with big consulting (80hrs/wk) or big finance(80+hrs/wk).
- This is mostly true if you're talking about big tech that pays significantly more than fly-by-night "tech" startups. If six figures is $100k, then I would say yeah pretty much even fly-by-night "tech" pays that, but to get $200k at the entry-level you need to go to big tech or their close competitors.
- This is also quite true as with everything else in life. Positioning yourself in a target school where big tech hires from is beneficial, ditto for big law, big consulting and big finance. I still would not discount the school prestige factor it gives you a huge leg up, otherwise you may have to do a series of hops before getting into big tech.
- What you want and need is to set yourself up on this path of 'self-fulling prophecy'. For example, if I see a resume of this person who worked for Amazon, Facebook and Google, I give him the benefit of doubt. If I see a resume of this person in some no-name startup, I think he's a lousy engineer. I'll fly the FAANG person down for a on-site interview, and I will toss the startup person resume into the trash. The truth is maybe the FAANG person is lousy, but most people will give benefit of doubt and the startup person will need to fight to get his chance to "prove his worth". Prestige open doors, and leads to more prestige that open more doors. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy, so give your kid the best start he/she can have. I'm pretty sure the same applies to other careers as well... big law, big consulting, big finance, etc.
- I also agree that compensation for big-tech is ridiculously good. As a senior (5 years out of school) you can get anywhere from $200-400k in big tech. That's the range for Director-level positions in most non-tech Fortune 500. Most long-time big tech employees will hit a glass ceiling of $300-500k though, which admittedly this ceiling is lower than say big finance and big consulting.

Been though too many of these arguments on the board to read the entire thread but I want to add to these two points.

The under-30 "tech" crowd on this board sees the software industry (what we really mean) though rose tinted glasses of the last 10 years. Having worked in software since the 90s and with a non-CS background I see things a little different.

#1. The mega salaries being touted are purely a factory of the insane valuations of the FAANGs. Work at a second tier company, work on non-hot sectors. work outside the tech hubs, or work in a non-developer role and you don't earn anywhere near those numbers. Remember even Facebook is not all coders - they have quality engineers, localization engineers & translators, doc writers, product managers, program/project managers, etc and those secondary roles don't make the same money. I work a support role for a mid-tier company in a niche (non-internet) domain and salaries rarely exceed 200k - even though we are a dominating market leader in our narrow specialty. All the major salary sites tell me these numbers are fully market competitive for my part of the industry.

#2 The mega salaries are also an artifact of the last 10 years. Ive worked in software since the 90s, and during the years following the dot com implosion salaries where seriously depressed and many colleagues of mine got out of the industry altogether. Those who stayed often never recovered and most of our generation doesn't make the kind of money the young kids coming out of Standford straight to a job at Google get today.

#3 Offshoring isn't just possible - its still happening. Its only a couple companies that don't use it much (Facebook, etc) make an outside impression on the silicon valley cohort. Travel to the big tech hubs in India (Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai/Pune, etc) and you will see Microsoft, Dell, HP, Cisco, IBM, etc signs everywhere. A LOT of the industry is offshore, and the Covid situation is showing the rest that this work really can be done anywhere in the world that has an internet connection... including places where labor is cheap.

#4 AI is a real threat. I work with teams that are developing systems around machine written code. It gets better every year. Someday developing software *may* turn into a technician kind of job that almost anybody can do and that will really hurt salaries/career prospects.


Tech is a bubble. Bubbles pop. If you have a real passion go for it, but if you don't have the aptitude don't wast time suffering though a degree just for the promise of big money.
oldfort
Posts: 1735
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2020 8:45 pm

Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by oldfort »

jharkin wrote: Thu Jul 23, 2020 11:02 am
TechFI wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 2:23 pm
HawkeyePierce wrote: Sat Jun 27, 2020 10:53 am Employment in computer science has and continues to skyrocket. Common objections are:
  • It's concentrated in a small number of HCOL areas
  • It's vulnerable to offshoring
  • You need to work 60-80 hour weeks to be successful
  • The number of six-figure jobs in CS are small
  • You have to attend an elite school to have a chance
IME, none of those are true. The big tech companies don't use much (if any) offshoring and work-life balance can be good, but is very dependent on your specific team. Remote work and satellite offices offer ample opportunity in MCOL areas like Atlanta, Denver, Phoenix and Austin.

My napkin-math comes to a couple hundred thousand jobs at companies with Silicon Valley-level compensation.

Demand for new grad software engineers continues, even during this recession. My employer hasn't cut back our new grad hiring program at all. We also hire from a far larger list of schools than many expect, including lots and lots of state schools. You don't have to attend Stanford or CMU to have a chance. Most of my coworkers attended CU Boulder or Colorado School of Mines.

What is true about this field:
  • Those who enter CS just for the money usually burn out quickly. This is a mentally demanding field
  • Getting hired can involve a lot of dumb luck, especially at the entry level
  • There is intense stratification in compensation. Software engineers are non-tech companies see their comp cap out fast while comp at tech companies quickly rises into the mid six figures
I'll add more perspectives and some difference in opinion:
- It's concentrated in HCOL. This is overall a good thing because salaries in tech scale more than COL. Also since there is a concentration of tech companies, so you can switch employers without ever moving again, and it also makes it easier to career hop.
- I'd refute MCOL being a good option as those are satellite offices and your career will suffer. It's worth it to move there to "rest and vest" as we like to describe it, but early career be in HQ where the action is at.
- It's still vulnerable to offshoring. Just because it hasn't been done successfully doesn't mean it won't be attempted again. This COVID-19 situation threatens to change the way work is done, and I fear it will lead to more outsourcing/offshoring.
- It depends on the company. Netflix/Facebook/Amazon have long hours like 60+hrs/wk others like Google/Microsoft have your regular 40hrs/wk. Even in the worst case, it pales to comparison with big consulting (80hrs/wk) or big finance(80+hrs/wk).
- This is mostly true if you're talking about big tech that pays significantly more than fly-by-night "tech" startups. If six figures is $100k, then I would say yeah pretty much even fly-by-night "tech" pays that, but to get $200k at the entry-level you need to go to big tech or their close competitors.
- This is also quite true as with everything else in life. Positioning yourself in a target school where big tech hires from is beneficial, ditto for big law, big consulting and big finance. I still would not discount the school prestige factor it gives you a huge leg up, otherwise you may have to do a series of hops before getting into big tech.
- What you want and need is to set yourself up on this path of 'self-fulling prophecy'. For example, if I see a resume of this person who worked for Amazon, Facebook and Google, I give him the benefit of doubt. If I see a resume of this person in some no-name startup, I think he's a lousy engineer. I'll fly the FAANG person down for a on-site interview, and I will toss the startup person resume into the trash. The truth is maybe the FAANG person is lousy, but most people will give benefit of doubt and the startup person will need to fight to get his chance to "prove his worth". Prestige open doors, and leads to more prestige that open more doors. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy, so give your kid the best start he/she can have. I'm pretty sure the same applies to other careers as well... big law, big consulting, big finance, etc.
- I also agree that compensation for big-tech is ridiculously good. As a senior (5 years out of school) you can get anywhere from $200-400k in big tech. That's the range for Director-level positions in most non-tech Fortune 500. Most long-time big tech employees will hit a glass ceiling of $300-500k though, which admittedly this ceiling is lower than say big finance and big consulting.

Been though too many of these arguments on the board to read the entire thread but I want to add to these two points.
#4 AI is a real threat. I work with teams that are developing systems around machine written code. It gets better every year. Someday developing software *may* turn into a technician kind of job that almost anybody can do and that will really hurt salaries/career prospects.


Tech is a bubble. Bubbles pop. If you have a real passion go for it, but if you don't have the aptitude don't wast time suffering though a degree just for the promise of big money.
My counterpoint on AI is what high paying jobs will be immune from AI? To be actionable, what high paying jobs do you think people should pursue instead of tech?
alfaspider
Posts: 3036
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 4:44 pm

Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by alfaspider »

chmcnm wrote: Wed Jul 22, 2020 12:05 pm A degree that let's you graduate with no debt first and foremost. In-fact, a college degree isn't always necessary. A kid in my son's graduating HS class this year is already a paid software developer. Trades are an option too. The guy who replaced my roof can't find people. He had some Russians helping him. Good workers.

To do well in the trades, you really need to be ready to start your own business. While you can do reasonably well working for someone else in a white collar profession, that's much more difficult to do in the trades. It's a better situation in more highly skilled trades (for example, a specialty welder or machinist), but trade schools can cost as much as college these days. Mechanics often get into deep debt buying tools (which they are required to bring to the job).

The reason why the guy who replaced your roof can't find people is because it is a difficult and dangerous job that pays poorly. You'll make $10-15 an hour to get scorched by the sun and risk breaking your neck falling. Around here, it would be very difficult to find a roofing crew that doesn't consist primarily of undocumented workers. Which is not to comment on undocumented workers specifically, but to say that the people who take those jobs do it because there aren't other options available to them.
alfaspider
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by alfaspider »

chmcnm wrote: Wed Jul 22, 2020 12:05 pm A degree that let's you graduate with no debt first and foremost. In-fact, a college degree isn't always necessary. A kid in my son's graduating HS class this year is already a paid software developer. Trades are an option too. The guy who replaced my roof can't find people. He had some Russians helping him. Good workers.

To do well in the trades, you really need to be ready to start your own business. Someone who runs a plumbing business can do quite well, but a plumber who works for someone else is going to struggle with pretty mediocre wages. While you can do reasonably well working for someone else in a white collar profession, that's much more difficult to do in the trades. It's a better situation in more highly skilled trades (for example, a specialty welder or machinist), but trade schools can cost as much as college these days. Mechanics often get into deep debt buying tools (which they are required to bring to the job).

The reason why the guy who replaced your roof can't find people is because it is a difficult and dangerous job that pays poorly. You'll make $10-15 an hour to get scorched by the sun and risk breaking your neck falling. Around here, it would be very difficult to find a roofing crew that doesn't consist primarily of undocumented workers. Which is not to comment on undocumented workers specifically, but to say that the people who take those jobs do it because there aren't other options available to them.
AnEngineer
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by AnEngineer »

oldfort wrote: Thu Jul 23, 2020 11:15 am My counterpoint on AI is what high paying jobs will be immune from AI? To be actionable, what high paying jobs do you think people should pursue instead of tech?
I think the issue is that in many cases your susceptibility to automation/AI isn't based on your field or major as much as your role within it. Even inside engineering, many people do somewhat repetitive tasks a lot, while others are closer to innovation. A determinant could be this: would AI make you more productive, or unnecessary? The more patents you get, the more design you do, the more new problems you deal with, the more you are paid to accomplish something, the more likely you are to be immune to automation. On the other hand, the more you're paid what what you know, for doing something you've been taught, or even applying things to a slightly different situation, the more you are vulnerable.

To some extent this probably just means you need to be among the best in your field, but it also can help you choose what roles you want to prepare for, it at least which ones to avoid.
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MissHavisham
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by MissHavisham »

alex123711 wrote: Fri Jun 26, 2020 10:26 pm Which degrees are still worthwhile/ likely to lead to employment these days?
Science Teacher. All of the Secondary Education Science Teachers (Grades 7-12) in my student teaching program secured jobs before graduation versus the English/Social Studies teachers. The ELA/SS teachers went on to fill maternity leaves/substitute/part time etc.

I specifically switched my major from History to Geology just to guarantee employment after graduation.
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by TechFI »

jharkin wrote: Thu Jul 23, 2020 11:02 am
Been though too many of these arguments on the board to read the entire thread but I want to add to these two points.

The under-30 "tech" crowd on this board sees the software industry (what we really mean) though rose tinted glasses of the last 10 years. Having worked in software since the 90s and with a non-CS background I see things a little different.

#1. The mega salaries being touted are purely a factory of the insane valuations of the FAANGs. Work at a second tier company, work on non-hot sectors. work outside the tech hubs, or work in a non-developer role and you don't earn anywhere near those numbers. Remember even Facebook is not all coders - they have quality engineers, localization engineers & translators, doc writers, product managers, program/project managers, etc and those secondary roles don't make the same money. I work a support role for a mid-tier company in a niche (non-internet) domain and salaries rarely exceed 200k - even though we are a dominating market leader in our narrow specialty. All the major salary sites tell me these numbers are fully market competitive for my part of the industry.

#2 The mega salaries are also an artifact of the last 10 years. Ive worked in software since the 90s, and during the years following the dot com implosion salaries where seriously depressed and many colleagues of mine got out of the industry altogether. Those who stayed often never recovered and most of our generation doesn't make the kind of money the young kids coming out of Standford straight to a job at Google get today.

#3 Offshoring isn't just possible - its still happening. Its only a couple companies that don't use it much (Facebook, etc) make an outside impression on the silicon valley cohort. Travel to the big tech hubs in India (Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai/Pune, etc) and you will see Microsoft, Dell, HP, Cisco, IBM, etc signs everywhere. A LOT of the industry is offshore, and the Covid situation is showing the rest that this work really can be done anywhere in the world that has an internet connection... including places where labor is cheap.

#4 AI is a real threat. I work with teams that are developing systems around machine written code. It gets better every year. Someday developing software *may* turn into a technician kind of job that almost anybody can do and that will really hurt salaries/career prospects.

Tech is a bubble. Bubbles pop. If you have a real passion go for it, but if you don't have the aptitude don't wast time suffering though a degree just for the promise of big money.
I agree that tech is a bubble, but there's nothing wrong going on the bubble and surfing the wave. The trick is to get on the *next* bubble before your current bubble pops. Also, if you are really good you can get in and out in 10+ years, and that's about how long bubbles last. Kids who started working at Facebook in the 20s, can retire in their 30s. Same thing for Microsoft when it went public back in the historical eras, lots of millionaires were born.

As for #4, you think AI is a real threat? LOL... I work in this space and often I debate myself who will commoditize who first. Will the AI engineers commoditize software engineers as we generate models to auto-write code? Or will the software engineers commoditze us? There's only so many researchers you need and at the end of the day, you still need engineers to maintain and productize things. I personally think I'm going to get commoditized first, which is why I'm trying to learn more software engineering skills these days.

And if you truly think AI is going to be the future, why not move in that direction? Be the person who will make jobs obsolete, not the person whose job got made obselete.

I'm also on the looking out for the next bubble/hype. Personally, I think AI is all hype and I hope it last as long as it can.
khram
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Re: Which College degrees are worthwhile?

Post by khram »

In terms of engineers being automated away, there's a difference between an engineer (building/designing big systems, writing maintainable code, having business impact, etc.) and being a programmer who churns out some HTML pages or something. The latter can be automated using simple templates or whatever.

I've personally written some libraries that get used across my companies and save a lot of time and effort. It frees me and other employees up to do more useful things. It's not killing anyone's job, it just means we can take on more work. AI is not going to take away a talented engineer's job. Very few companies who use AI know what they're doing. Usually you get business people excited about the buzzwords, but bringing an AI-driven product to fruition is not as simple as it sounds.

As for the other stuff, if you're good, you'll make a lot of money. Sure, FAANG is big, they hire some bad engineers too. And after a year or so, the bad engineers will get kicked to the curb and have to find another job.

I didn't even read this whole thread. Looks like basically every career/college-related post on this forum devolves into a FAANG discussion. Would be interesting to learn a little bit about other careers too.
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