Anyone here major in Economics in college?

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HueyLD
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by HueyLD » Fri Oct 12, 2018 10:52 am

I think the OP should relax and let his daighter explore her options in college.

And I have met quite a few people who did not end up with occupations that correlated with the degrees.

Just step back and be supportive of the daughter. Don't be a tiger parent.

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dodecahedron
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by dodecahedron » Fri Oct 12, 2018 2:01 pm

HueyLD wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 10:52 am
I think the OP should relax and let his daighter explore her options in college.

And I have met quite a few people who did not end up with occupations that correlated with the degrees.

Just step back and be supportive of the daughter. Don't be a tiger parent.
I agree that parents should relax and give their kids freedom to explore and I have strongly refrained from offering unsolicited advice to my own kids, but the OP stated that his ¨daughter asked him¨ if he thought an economics degree was worth the money, so it is not unreasonable to respond to her question.

That said, I am rather glad my daughters never asked me that question. Also rather glad they did not choose economics as a major, whatever its financial rewards might have been. The subject was only mildly interesting to them. As one of my daughters said, more than once, there are already enough economists in this family!

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dm200
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by dm200 » Fri Oct 12, 2018 2:26 pm

Back when I graduated from college, there were real economic/financial benefits of just having a college degree. My understanding today, though, is that your college major is much more important.

If I were to major in Economics today, I think I would also take several classes in Accounting as well.

RealHornblower
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by RealHornblower » Fri Oct 12, 2018 4:14 pm

Calico wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 7:45 am
Thanks again. There has been a lot more posted since she read this thread so I will have her look at it again. She's scoffing a bit because she doesn't "want" to be an accountant. She is a teenager after all and they can be a bit idealistic. But she also tends to be a little more practical than most teens and logic wins her over. She says she wants to major in something that leads to a career she would enjoy, would pay well, and something that is "worth the money paid for college."

She's best at math, by far. She's a grade ahead in math classes and says it's easy and she consistently gets things like 105% on exams (there is always extra credit). She hopes to get music scholarships but still major in something more practical if it's possible. She's pretty talented as a musician (I think there are ties between math and music) and she plays multiple instruments very well. I think it's going to be a lifelong hobby for her. She will sit and play instruments (usually piano or her baritone) for hours as "fun" and a way to "de-stress." Meanwhile, the X-box gathers dust, haha.

I would say take a lot of math and stat classes then. Maybe start on the path to a math major or minor, take one or two econ classes, one or two comp sci classes, either some music classes or do it as an extra-curricular, and see what she likes. Nothing wrong with a math major *and* a music major.

RealHornblower
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by RealHornblower » Fri Oct 12, 2018 4:18 pm

Valuethinker wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 6:18 am

My understanding of actuarial science is that these are about the toughest exams it is possible to do. People study years to be actuaries, and it's a long, hard road. Only the brightest and most determined reach it.

It's then a job for life and general pay is very good. But you become specialized immediately: Life actuary, pension actuary, non-life (property & casualty) actuary. It's very hard to break out of that career silo - you have either rise to the top as a partner in a consulting firm (so be good at selling) or work your way up through an insurance company (my general impression is that there are far too many insurance companies out there - an industry ripe for huge rationalization).

I would think that a CPA gives a lot more options. Every industry needs CPAs because all companies (and government, and higher education) have finance functions.
This is true, and it's part of the reason I didn't take the exams in college. I didn't want to be locked in to one career. But man after about six months in that call center I sure was kicking myself. Being a generalist can work out for you, but I would say specializing can be safer sometimes. But I'd repeat that you'll almost never regret taking a lot of math and stats. It basically bailed me out of a poor start to my career.

tmsul100
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by tmsul100 » Fri Oct 12, 2018 4:22 pm

Just one thought/observation from my years in business (not in finance, but worked closely with them): accounting is super important. If she could major in economics, maybe minor in accounting (even better, get CPA) I think she could write her ticket. Economics (my view) is pretty theoretical/conceptual. Accounting (as Buffett says) is the language of business, very pragmatic and keeps people and businesses out of trouble.

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dm200
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by dm200 » Fri Oct 12, 2018 4:27 pm

One is theory ("Let us assume") and the other is reality.

A mathematician, an accountant and an economist apply for the same job.
The interviewer calls in the mathematician and asks "What do two plus two equal?" The mathematician replies "Four." The interviewer asks "Four, exactly?" The mathematician looks at the interviewer incredulously and says "Yes, four, exactly."
Then the interviewer calls in the accountant and asks the same question "What do two plus two equal?" The accountant says "On average, four - give or take ten percent, but on average, four."
Then the interviewer calls in the economist and poses the same question "What do two plus two equal?" The economist gets up, locks the door, closes the shade, sits down next to the interviewer and says, "What do you want it to equal"?

HappyWorkerBee
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by HappyWorkerBee » Fri Oct 12, 2018 4:28 pm

I majored in Economics for my undergrad degree. I would not recommend it. I found that most jobs that are available to people with undergraduate degrees in economics are boring, not well paid, and often worked like white collar sweatshops. To add insult to injury, because there are so many more people studying economics than there are good jobs for those graduates it can be difficult to get a job when the economy is bad. I ended up going back to school to get a master's in computer science. The jobs I can get with that degree are interesting, well paid, and widely available even when the job market is soft.

One thing that's worth discussing with your daughter is that she's going to encounter sexism both in school and in the workplace. The mistake I made when I was a student was choosing a major in part based on the illusion that this choice might allow me to avoid (or reduce my exposure to) sexism & sexual harassment, both in school and in my future career. A lot more women study economics than computer science so I felt more comfortable in those classes. Meanwhile my computer science classes had hardly any women students and invariably featured some men who spent most of their time bragging about how they already knew all the material, making people like me feel even more alienated. Make a point to prevent these externalities from influencing choice of major. The majors with the most male students are often the majors that lead to the highest paid, most intellectually challenging careers with the best job prospects.

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mlebuf
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by mlebuf » Fri Oct 12, 2018 7:59 pm

One other option she may want to consider: Become an Accounting or Finance professor. There is an enormous shortage of Ph.D, CPA's and the starting salaries are excellent. I had some faculty colleague friends who started out as CPA's, hating working in accounting, went back, got a Ph.D and were very content teaching the subject. Found the link below on faculty compensation. Keep in mind these numbers are for 9 months of teaching which is 32 weeks in a calendar year. There are also opportunities to supplement income through teaching summer school, writing, consulting, etc.

https://www1.salary.com/Professor-Accou ... aries.html
Best wishes, | Michael | | Invest your time actively and your money passively.

Pigeye Brewster
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by Pigeye Brewster » Fri Oct 12, 2018 9:00 pm

tmsul100 wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 4:22 pm
Just one thought/observation from my years in business (not in finance, but worked closely with them): accounting is super important. If she could major in economics, maybe minor in accounting (even better, get CPA) I think she could write her ticket. Economics (my view) is pretty theoretical/conceptual. Accounting (as Buffett says) is the language of business, very pragmatic and keeps people and businesses out of trouble.
I was an economics major who also took plenty of accounting classes (principles, intermediate, cost, tax). I found that to be a good combination. Calculus is also helpful for higher level econ classes.

EddyB
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by EddyB » Fri Oct 12, 2018 9:40 pm

I majored in economics in a selective liberal arts program, with my personal focus on the purely impractical. My entire school emphasized effective, persuasive writing, and I found that to be a great complement to the analytical aspect of the economics program. I then went to a top law school, where I found my undergraduate education to be a great foundation for success.

scrabbler1
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by scrabbler1 » Sat Oct 13, 2018 9:38 am

Pigeye Brewster wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 9:00 pm
tmsul100 wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 4:22 pm
Just one thought/observation from my years in business (not in finance, but worked closely with them): accounting is super important. If she could major in economics, maybe minor in accounting (even better, get CPA) I think she could write her ticket. Economics (my view) is pretty theoretical/conceptual. Accounting (as Buffett says) is the language of business, very pragmatic and keeps people and businesses out of trouble.
I was an economics major who also took plenty of accounting classes (principles, intermediate, cost, tax). I found that to be a good combination. Calculus is also helpful for higher level econ classes.
As part of my former major (comp sci), I had to take some advanced math courses such as calculus and linear algebra. Later on, when I was considering NYU's 5-year BS-MS program, I took a few courses which would give me advanced credit toward the MS. One of them was Cost Accounting, another was an advanced Stat course. Taken together, with an Econ major I had a strong math/comp sci/stat/accounting background beyond what a regular business major would have.

five2one
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by five2one » Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:19 am

Econ? No
Finance undergrad a bit better.

Currently, outside of doctors, the best path for employment and income I see is engineer undergrad then MBA.

welx23
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by welx23 » Sat Oct 13, 2018 9:16 pm

I was an economics major in college and would do it again. Like many others, my path hasn't been 'traditional' but it's been enjoyable, rewarding, and has paid well / allowed for a good lifestyle.

Out of college, my first job was in investment banking (municipal bonds) for a couple of years. I could have continued along that route, like many of my classmates. But, I decided to jump ship and took a role managing international economic development research projects at a top-tier university. I stayed there for 6 years but along the way found myself becoming more interested in urban poverty. So, I got my master's in social work (largely paid for by said university while working there) and later moved on to work in economic and community development for the local government. If it's helpful, my government salary with 10 years experience was in the $80-$90k range. Not horrible but certainly not a private sector salary.

Best of luck to your daughter!

delamer
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by delamer » Sat Oct 13, 2018 9:19 pm

five2one wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:19 am
Econ? No
Finance undergrad a bit better.

Currently, outside of doctors, the best path for employment and income I see is engineer undergrad then MBA.
The most highly paid person I know is a PhD economist who does testimony in court cases.

five2one
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by five2one » Sat Oct 13, 2018 11:44 pm

delamer wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 9:19 pm
five2one wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:19 am
Econ? No
Finance undergrad a bit better.

Currently, outside of doctors, the best path for employment and income I see is engineer undergrad then MBA.
The most highly paid person I know is a PhD economist who does testimony in court cases.
I wonder just how many of those job opportunities are out there vs an engineer.
I personally know more than a dozen positions looking for engineers paying 80-ish.

Bottom line is the world will always needs people with skills "to do" the job vs "manage" the job.
Sure, managers can make more which is why an engineer with good interpersonal/communication/emotional intelligence skills is valuable.

Zonian59
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by Zonian59 » Sun Oct 14, 2018 12:08 am

My undergraduate college roommate was an Econ major. After graduation, he went into the USAF and wound up as a GIB (Guy in Back....Air Force technical slang for "Electronic Warfare Officer") of an F-15 Strike Eagle during the Gulf War. Last I heard, he was a technical writer at an aerospace company. About the only thing he remembered from his Econ days was the "Invisible Hand" concept.

By the way, my memory of Economics was that one of my Economic instructors was interested in Economic History. The class was more of a History class from an economics perspective and it made for a fascinating class.

Valuethinker
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by Valuethinker » Sun Oct 14, 2018 8:07 am

Zonian59 wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 12:08 am
My undergraduate college roommate was an Econ major. After graduation, he went into the USAF and wound up as a GIB (Guy in Back....Air Force technical slang for "Electronic Warfare Officer") of an F-15 Strike Eagle during the Gulf War. Last I heard, he was a technical writer at an aerospace company. About the only thing he remembered from his Econ days was the "Invisible Hand" concept.
Academics is only a small part of the selection of military aircrew. Reflexes, personality, leadership ability, aptitude for absorbing technical information, eyesight, fitness - these I am sure are the main parts.
By the way, my memory of Economics was that one of my Economic instructors was interested in Economic History. The class was more of a History class from an economics perspective and it made for a fascinating class.
My university had a strong economic history tradition and yes those classes were fascinating. One of the courses was on the 1919-1939 economic crisis, and at the other end of my career life, we wound up repeating that (a German friend of mine, a few years ago, put it "not yet the 1930s, but the 1920s" which now seems quite prescient).

Mainstream economists have now become obsessed with obtaining and using economic historical data (they don't always properly understand the limitations - I do laugh a bit at US stock indices since 1810, etc.).

And generally economics has gone data driven. An undergraduate or postgraduate now in economics will learn a lot more practical about quantitative analysis, experiment design and testing, than I did 30+ years ago (nearly 40 if I am honest ;-)).

R programming language. R is the magic word. They will learn to do a lot with R.

delamer
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by delamer » Sun Oct 14, 2018 10:31 am

five2one wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 11:44 pm
delamer wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 9:19 pm
five2one wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:19 am
Econ? No
Finance undergrad a bit better.

Currently, outside of doctors, the best path for employment and income I see is engineer undergrad then MBA.
The most highly paid person I know is a PhD economist who does testimony in court cases.
I wonder just how many of those job opportunities are out there vs an engineer.
I personally know more than a dozen positions looking for engineers paying 80-ish.

Bottom line is the world will always needs people with skills "to do" the job vs "manage" the job.
Sure, managers can make more which is why an engineer with good interpersonal/communication/emotional intelligence skills is valuable.
My general point is that we are all somewhat limited in our perspective of the best educational/career path to obtain a good paying job. It depends on your own career, your social circle, what your parents did for a living, etc.

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