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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

acegolfer
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by acegolfer » Fri Dec 28, 2018 6:54 pm

I majored in Economics in college. Now I teach MBA finance.

If your daughter is good with calculus/science but don't want to major in engineering, then I highly recommend Economics as her major in college.

Insider tip: If she wants to get an MBA later, then take some finance/accounting courses as elective. Most finance and accounting MBA courses require prerequisite/foundation courses. This requirement can be waived, if similar courses are taken in college.

I can talk about the difference between Economics and Business Management. PM me, if you want.

DrGoogle2017
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Fri Dec 28, 2018 7:37 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.
My kid was top 5 math students in high school. She was going to major in Math in college. Luckily I did spend a lot of time on one college website to know better. I suggested engineering, luckily she was not too rebellious, she took my advice. In college, the math classes kicked her arse big time. Even thought she did well in proof classes, one required math class, most kids flunked with an F or D, she was top 3 student. All that to say, just because you’re strong in Math in high school, don’t even think about majoring in it in college, unless you don’t care about your grades. But she’s decided to transfer to Computer Science her first semester when the major was not declared as compact as they are now, it combines her love of language and math together. She’s now enjoying her career. She too was very good at piano, I think there’s link between math and music.

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patrick013
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by patrick013 » Fri Dec 28, 2018 9:31 pm

I took 4 years of math in high school, algebra thru geometry. What better preparation for college courses where math is predominant. Just like high school biology and chemistry would be for college sciences.

They used to say an accounting degree plus an MBA in Finance or Economics makes the big corporation look good, or an Engineering degree with an MBA. I think it would be easier to just get 2 bachelor's degrees. Less than half the course req'd for an MBA it looks like plus a person could do it at the same school their original bachelor's degree was from.

Harvard has specialized certificates. No prerequisites, short application, pass the several courses req'd and you get the certificate from Harvard. So if you had an accounting degree and wanted a certificate in corporate financial theory for work related reasons this option would provide it. Or a project engineer looking for better financial understanding might get a certificate in finance principles. Other certificates are available.

When economics, data gathering, and statistics combine a very math-centric career would result. Much more than an accountant where data reported would have more financial meaning and less statistical output. I usually think of Economics as being recruited by banks but depending on math level or general business skills could be very flexible in other business and management operations. But like most industries there are usually plenty of applicants especially for CFO, but see what's available. :)
age in bonds, buy-and-hold, 10 year business cycle

cheapskate
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by cheapskate » Fri Dec 28, 2018 10:19 pm

I would not recommend majoring in Economics. It would be a lot better to major in Business (and take a lot of quantitative courses as electives).

1) Undergraduate teaching in Economics is very often horrendous, especially in large state universities with amphitheatre style lecture halls (eg at the University of California campuses). Economics, taught poorly is far worse and far more boring than most other subjects.
2) To echo what someone wrote, in universities that offer both Economics and Business degrees, the Business program is usually *far* more selective.
3) You can do an undergrad in business and still take a lot of Economics and Quantitative courses.
4) Business != (Accounting || Finance || Marketing). There are a lot of majors within Business that might be more appealing to your daughter - Business (Data) Analytics, Supply Chain Management, Operations Management are all very quantitative and lucrative areas within Business.
5) The usual reasoning of "it is a not a good idea to undergrad in business, so top colleges don't offer Business degrees" is an elitist view that makes no sense.
6) Job prospects are *far* better for business majors compared to undergrad Economics majors (with the exception of Economics majors from Harvard/Yale or Stanford). IMO the whole idea of going to college is to learn some practical skills that will land you a good job.

I started out as an Economics major, found the teaching (and the content) very dull and boring and switched to majoring in Statistics.

cheapskate
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by cheapskate » Fri Dec 28, 2018 10:33 pm

DrGoogle2017 wrote:
Fri Dec 28, 2018 7:37 pm
My kid was top 5 math students in high school. She was going to major in Math in college. Luckily I did spend a lot of time on one college website to know better. I suggested engineering, luckily she was not too rebellious, she took my advice. In college, the math classes kicked her arse big time. Even thought she did well in proof classes, one required math class, most kids flunked with an F or D, she was top 3 student. All that to say, just because you’re strong in Math in high school, don’t even think about majoring in it in college, unless you don’t care about your grades. But she’s decided to transfer to Computer Science her first semester when the major was not declared as compact as they are now, it combines her love of language and math together. She’s now enjoying her career. She too was very good at piano, I think there’s link between math and music.
Agreed. I have warned my (STEM oriented) son to keep a very safe distance from Real Analysis and Abstract Algebra. There is vast chasm between Calculus I/II/III and Analysis/Algebra. Kids who do well in the former will typically do well in engineering math courses (ODEs, Computational Linear Algebra), but there are no guarantees when it comes to Analysis/Algebra. Luckily most of us don't ever need to hear about epsilons and deltas.

JPM
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by JPM » Fri Dec 28, 2018 11:29 pm

Young relation #1; Double major econ et statistics in good pvt university graduating 1995. No graduate degree. Few lucky breaks led to illustrious career as international banker. Earned eight figures/y. Early retirement.
Young relation#2; double major econ et math at good pvt university graduating 2007. Lacking lucky breaks is semiprofessional musician abd makes a good straight living as private tutor for SAT prep.
Young relation #3; Accounting major at midwestern state university graduating 2000. Supervised audits at large accounting firm. Recently started an operating job.

Atlas_Shrugged
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by Atlas_Shrugged » Fri Dec 28, 2018 11:38 pm

I majored in Econ from top 20 school. Ended up in investment banking at Lehman in 2008. :oops: Eventually moved to tech companies and now head of analytics and decision science at a fortune 50 company. I think, Econ is broad enough major compared to finance, accounting or business that it gives flexibility to move around. I ended up self taughting programming.

DrGoogle2017
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Fri Dec 28, 2018 11:58 pm

A lot of what to major depends on the person. I started out major in accounting because I like working with numbers, I enjoyed economics and finance subject, but really hated accounting. Luckily I was despressed enough to talk to my brother who encouraged me to study engineering, he showed me Boolean algebra and I thought that was so easy, that’s when I did change my major to engineering. I liked to study engineering best.

My kid’s best friend in high school studied Economics at Reed, not sure it’s top 20 or not, he graduated in 2012 and he then took some accounting classes for a certificate at a local UC. Not sure what he is doing now, but his parents are rich doctors. The guy dont have to worry about making a living. Not sure if anybody else can be in the same boat. But I think he is under employed.

msk
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by msk » Sat Dec 29, 2018 2:14 am

Just more data points. No.2 daughter did a BCom at a prestigious school. She wanted to start working full time before age 21, missed that by 1 month. Planned to retire at 30. Missed that by one year. The biggest jump in income she received, a factor 2x, maybe 3x, overnight changing employers, was after she became a CPA. All companies need somebody who is certified able to sign off accounts. MBAs cannot. I worked for a Fortune 10. They insisted on all their top financial management to be CPAs or similar, regardless of educational background, hence her doing the deed.

Daughter No.1 did a BA in English drama from the same prestigious school, followed by an MBA at a decent school in the UK. Worked full time for a few years and when the kids came she switched to 3-day workweeks from home. Still at it 15 years later. Not rich, despite being married to a VP at a medium sized manufacturing company.

During my career at the Fortune 10, I started off as an engineer (PhD physics) and did stints in HR and Planning-and-Economics before ending up as a Director. Nobody ever considered an Economics undergrad education as anything more than a "general" education, on par with sociology, anthropology, languages, etc. Study whatever you feel like doing at the undergrad level, then narrow down to money making or life's career path at the postgrad. Large corporations normally can retrain people to an amazing extent, in house and with short executive programs.

DrGoogle2017
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Sat Dec 29, 2018 12:23 pm

DrGoogle2017 wrote:
Fri Dec 28, 2018 11:58 pm


My kid’s best friend in high school studied Economics at Reed, not sure it’s top 20 or not, he graduated in 2012 and he then took some accounting classes for a certificate at a local UC. Not sure what he is doing now, but his parents are rich doctors. The guy dont have to worry about making a living. Not sure if anybody else can be in the same boat. But I think he is under employed.
My kid had dinner with her friend and she said he is now working at some type of asset management firm for bonds. Originally he wanted to work in investment banking. So he ends up closer to his original goal than I had thought.

Ben Mathew
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by Ben Mathew » Sat Dec 29, 2018 1:38 pm

I majored in economics in undergrad, then did a stint in economic consulting before getting a PhD in economics. I then taught economics and finance for a few years in a liberal arts college.

For those looking to go into the business world, economics offers a great deal of insight into how the economy and businesses work. It's also a useful foundation for the more specialized fields of finance and accounting. These subjects become a lot easier to understand after you've studied economics. Economics and finance used to be distinct fields without much to say to each other until the 1950s, when the field of finance started being re-invented by economists like Modigliani, Miller, Markowitz and Sharpe. Modern financial theory is now effectively the principles of economics applied to financial markets. So it's hard to understand finance without understanding economics. I used to teach finance to economics majors, and I would review intermediate microeconomics (a prerequisite for the course) before starting on the finance. Once you learn finance, it becomes easier to understand accounting as well. So I would recommend first studying economics, then finance, and then accounting. It's the most logical route through these topics.

Add a healthy dose of math, statistics, and computer science, and she will have a good foundation with a lot of depth and flexibility. Beef up on statistics and computer science and the hot field of big data becomes an option as well.

The major could be anything. As long as she has these courses in, she should have a lot of options going forward.

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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by Ben Mathew » Sat Dec 29, 2018 1:53 pm

dodecahedron wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:11 pm
my own experience is that I was a math major as an undergrad (very small major so I got a lot of attention and advising) but took a lot of courses in economics also and wound up getting a PhD in economics, with a specialization in mathematical economics. If there is any chance she might want to do a PhD in economics, then a math major with an economics minor is a more valuable foundation than the other way around.
Surprising, but true. Graduate programs in economics are now so math heavy that being a math major + economics minor will probably serve you better than being an economics major + math minor. The math classes most useful for graduate economics are:

Multivariable calculus
Linear algebra
Differential equations
Real analysis
Probability
Statistics

Nice to have:
Complex analysis
Functional analysis

I did see a paper once with what appeared to be abstract algebra in it, but it wasn't typical.

Nearly A Moose
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by Nearly A Moose » Thu Jan 03, 2019 10:15 pm

I'll do the annoying thing and post having only read the OP. I got an econ degree. Started in engineering and realized I really didn't enjoy it. So I switched to econ with a stats minor. Then off to law school, which was a possibility but not a sure thing when I picked the major.

This may sound trite, but I think the most important thing a good econ major does is to help train one to think extremely critically about the world. At my college, it was also the most quantitative of the business majors and generally viewed as the hardest. Since business majors tend to house a fair number of kids who don't really know what they want to do or are looking for a less challenging curriculum, I view those as good things. I also tend to think that more or less any business degree can land one in almost any business field, so one should focus on the quality of the curriculum and the skills you'll learn. I also found econ to be extremely broad.

Overall, I'd strongy recommend it. I think the biggest criticism I have is that the classes can get too far toward the theoretical end of the spectrum, depending on the professor. That's not inherently bad, but if the student is up for it, I'd consider pairing it with a double major in something like finance, psychology, or political science (or math if the student wants to get deep into the quant side or knows they want an advanced econ degree).
Pardon typos, I'm probably using my fat thumbs on a tiny phone.

BSBHead
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by BSBHead » Thu Jan 03, 2019 10:37 pm

Can she double major? Maybe Economics for the theory and Finance/Accounting for the skills? I'm guessing there would be overlap in coursework.

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market timer
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by market timer » Fri Jan 04, 2019 12:40 am

Calico wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 8:19 am
She thinks she wants to be an economics major in college because she wants to be an economist, CFO, or maybe a financial planner. Plus, math and science are (by far) her strongest subjects yet she has no desire to go into Engineering or the Sciences. She wants to go, "into business because there will always be businesses."
I think it is really too early to plan for mid-career outcomes. My suggestion would be to start with the basics in economics, mathematics, statistics, and computer science, then decide on a major in sophomore/junior year. These are the courses I've personally found most useful and are good preparation for many jobs.

If your daughter wants to be a CFO or work in FP&A, then finance is preferable to economics.

FinanceStudent
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by FinanceStudent » Fri Jan 04, 2019 4:09 pm

I also would recommend looking at a finance or accounting degree (or both). I was interested in all three (accounting, economics and finance) and ended up double majoring in accounting and finance while taking several upper division economics courses as electives. Most of my peers in accounting seemed to have an easier time finding employment than those in economics, with the finance majors somewhere in between.

I ended up taking an offer to start in audit at one of the Big 4 and subsequently transferred to the advisory practice. One other benefit to accounting is that recruiting (at least for the large public accounting firms) is generally done much earlier than in other fields, so you potentially don't need to worry about job searching as you near graduation. I, and most of my coworkers that started with me, got our job offers ~15 months before graduation.

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Calico
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by Calico » Fri Jan 11, 2019 9:22 am

Thanks again for all the information. The talk of career and college has died down now that the guidance office in her high school is more focused on students taking SATs and the like. From talking to other parents, it sounds like this kind of conversation will crop up every year at the beginning of the year as the kids are asked about career plans, college, etc, no matter what their grade.

For what it's worth, my daughter is all excited about Chemistry now that she found out that it involves a lot of math as well (they are picking their classes for the next school year).

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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by Small Law Survivor » Fri Jan 11, 2019 9:33 am

I majored in Economics in college (graduated 1976) - it was a great choice, and the principles I learned have served me well. No regrets at all (well, only regret is that I didn't take the course on international monetary policy). I liked it so much that I considered going to grad school for a Masters/Ph.D, but was intimidated by the math. Went to law school instead, and got involved in antitrust law, which is (or should be) based on economic principles.
67 yrs, semi-retired lawyer, 50/40/10 s/b/c, 70/30 dom/int'l. Plan:4% until age 70, 3% when social security kicks in. Boglehead since day 1 under diff names

Valuethinker
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by Valuethinker » Fri Jan 11, 2019 10:05 am

market timer wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 12:40 am
Calico wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 8:19 am
She thinks she wants to be an economics major in college because she wants to be an economist, CFO, or maybe a financial planner. Plus, math and science are (by far) her strongest subjects yet she has no desire to go into Engineering or the Sciences. She wants to go, "into business because there will always be businesses."
I think it is really too early to plan for mid-career outcomes. My suggestion would be to start with the basics in economics, mathematics, statistics, and computer science, then decide on a major in sophomore/junior year. These are the courses I've personally found most useful and are good preparation for many jobs.

If your daughter wants to be a CFO or work in FP&A, then finance is preferable to economics.
I would suggest Accounting as opposed to Finance.

CFO or FP & A => need a CPA (ACA in UK; CA in Canada and Scotland) or the equivalent management accounting qualification (CIMA/ CMA or whatever the US equivalent is). You might as well get the credits in undergrad.

Finance is a problematic undergraduate major. The majority of people in Financial institutions have traditionally had an MBA (or Masters in Financial Engineering, etc.). If you want to be market side (as opposed to Corporate Finance) an undergrad degree in Applied Math and Stats is probably more useful these days - trading is, as I understand it, about originating a strategy and then implementing it in computer code. That's why the French are so bloody good at derivatives - the very mathematical nature of their higher education (Ecole Polytechnique but also HEC).

However the other route in is via summer internships in a bank, leading to full time hire as an Analyst (corporate finance). Leading to promotion 2-3 years later to Associate.

That's really about high prestige undergrad colleges. So yes, Wharton Finance undergrad. Probably UVA, a few others that have high prestige undergrad business majors (McGill U in Montreal, Richard Ivy at University of Western Ontario, Trinity College at Toronto -- don't know the American ones so well). But most of the top 20 undergrad colleges in America don't have undergrad business degrees and thus won't have that background.

They will have done economics or some other major, or a double major with economics, and interviewed at the banks.
Last edited by Valuethinker on Fri Jan 11, 2019 10:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

Valuethinker
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by Valuethinker » Fri Jan 11, 2019 10:07 am

Small Law Survivor wrote:
Fri Jan 11, 2019 9:33 am
I majored in Economics in college (graduated 1976) - it was a great choice, and the principles I learned have served me well. No regrets at all (well, only regret is that I didn't take the course on international monetary policy). I liked it so much that I considered going to grad school for a Masters/Ph.D, but was intimidated by the math. Went to law school instead, and got involved in antitrust law, which is (or should be) based on economic principles.
The theory of international money has moved on so much from then I think. Bit of a revolution in the 1980s. (in my vague understanding) and you had the crises of the 1990s to road test new theories (Krugman et al). Bretton Woods had only just ended in 1976 - it was all new ground. (A friend of mine did have Robert Z. Aliber at Chicago, by all accounts a better writer than he was a lecturer).

Good news. I am sure there is stuff on Coursera you could do or equivalent, now.

Adam Tooze's new book on the Crash is well worth a read on the subject.

testing321
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by testing321 » Fri Jan 11, 2019 2:21 pm

My brother started off as an accounting major and didn't like it. He then switched to economics, got a BA degree, and then went to work for ideaLab! and became a product manager. He has since switched companies several times and has done very well financially in tech related industries as a manager developing new products. Economics was an excellent major for his career.

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onthecusp
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by onthecusp » Fri Jan 11, 2019 3:06 pm

I loved my econ classes in college but even back then it didn't look like a good career field for me. I was engineering all the way. I'm glad I took them though.

My daughter started out as a Math major, switched to English for a year, then Mechanical Engineering. So nothing is etched in stone but it is good to think about. I'm still thinking about what I want to be when I grow up and "retire."

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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by Sandi_k » Sat Jan 12, 2019 2:17 pm

Bfwolf wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 7:58 pm
FireProof wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 10:07 am
At Berkeley, we see:
Econ: Average starting salary: 71K - 16% seeking employment, 7% grad school
https://career.berkeley.edu/sites/defau ... 17Econ.pdf

Business: Average starting salary 77k, 8% seeking employment, 3% grad school
https://career.berkeley.edu/sites/defau ... siness.pdf

Pretty similar. Now, business majors have a much higher response rate, so that may conceal a larger difference, but it also may be a result of the Business School being more career-oriented and encouraging responses much more strongly than the School of Letters and Science.
This may bolster your argument further: at Berkeley, pretty much anybody can be an econ major but the business school is very selective. One cannot apply to it straight from high school. Instead, students apply after their sophomore year at Berkeley, having fulfilled some prerequisites for the business school. Only 1 in 3 get in, so the competition is pretty fierce given all the applicants managed to get into Berkeley and have a respectable GPA there (few would bother applying with anything less than a 3.0). I imagine that many of the people who do not get into the business school major in economics. So there's strong selection bias for better students being in the business school.
Not true. the Econ UG degree at Berkeley requires a minimum of a 3.0 GPA in the pre-requisites.
https://www.econ.berkeley.edu/undergrad/prospective

Haas only requires a C- or better in the prereq courses:
https://haas.berkeley.edu/undergrad/adm ... n-process/

Bfwolf
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Re: Anyone here major in Economics in college?

Post by Bfwolf » Tue Jan 15, 2019 5:42 pm

Sandi_k wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 2:17 pm
Bfwolf wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 7:58 pm
FireProof wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 10:07 am
At Berkeley, we see:
Econ: Average starting salary: 71K - 16% seeking employment, 7% grad school
https://career.berkeley.edu/sites/defau ... 17Econ.pdf

Business: Average starting salary 77k, 8% seeking employment, 3% grad school
https://career.berkeley.edu/sites/defau ... siness.pdf

Pretty similar. Now, business majors have a much higher response rate, so that may conceal a larger difference, but it also may be a result of the Business School being more career-oriented and encouraging responses much more strongly than the School of Letters and Science.
This may bolster your argument further: at Berkeley, pretty much anybody can be an econ major but the business school is very selective. One cannot apply to it straight from high school. Instead, students apply after their sophomore year at Berkeley, having fulfilled some prerequisites for the business school. Only 1 in 3 get in, so the competition is pretty fierce given all the applicants managed to get into Berkeley and have a respectable GPA there (few would bother applying with anything less than a 3.0). I imagine that many of the people who do not get into the business school major in economics. So there's strong selection bias for better students being in the business school.
Not true. the Econ UG degree at Berkeley requires a minimum of a 3.0 GPA in the pre-requisites.
https://www.econ.berkeley.edu/undergrad/prospective

Haas only requires a C- or better in the prereq courses:
https://haas.berkeley.edu/undergrad/adm ... n-process/
Pretty much everybody with a 3.0 is accepted into the econ major at Cal. Haas is extremely competitive and most of the applicants with a GPA north of 3.0 will still get denied. Only 269 of 840 sophomores were admitted to Haas in its most recent round of admissions.

https://haas.berkeley.edu/undergrad/com ... s-profile/

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