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Major dilemna

  1. Mar 8, 2009 #1


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    "Major" dilemna

    Alright, im at two options right now in my mind.

    A-i take the business route, accounting, get a job nearly instantly start off mid 40s and climb the corporate ladder. business classes to me are extremely easy, boring, purely expedient, in other words, easy money living by few morals. The upside to this major would be availability of jobs, and lots of free time for starting a family etc.

    B-Go physics/engineering, work my *** off to get a respectable gpa which will get me into top graduate schools, and in the long run worry about the amount of time i spend on the job and how that will effect my social life, as well as if i would have ample time for a family.

    in my mind, i love physics and all that sh*t, but i worry if i go this route i would put so much time into it, the future for a family looks a bit less prominent, and free time would be lackluster.

    business would pretty much be making a living off exploiting people, i would be bored, but i would have a lot of free time for family and friends. Plus the money is easy.

    I could see myself doing excellent in both fields but business is boring, quick, easy money, with tons of free time. physics is work, interesting, and just seems like it would consume so much time that a family would be second nature...

    any thoughts that can help my decision along would be appreciated... thanks =/
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 9, 2009 #2
    Re: "Major" dilemna

    This is obviously completely anecdotal, but my Dad had the same kind of choice in college, but replace physics with biology. To make a long story short, he chose business and quickly rose up the corporate ladder and started making money by the wheelbarrow. However, he hates his job and always has, and despite making more money in a year than most people make in 10, he is on the verge of quitting and going back to school for biology, and he fears he has wasted the last 30 years of life spending 8-12 hours a day doing something he despises.
  4. Mar 9, 2009 #3
    Re: "Major" dilemna

    I have good news! If you think majoring in accounting is necessarily followed by a job that is "easy money living by few morals", then you don't know what "easy money" is, and you don't know what the words "living by few morals" mean. The idea that accountants make a living "off exploiting people" is pure hilarity. Your perception is so skewed it is unlikely you'll ever really be able to accurately compare whatever lot you have to whatever it could have been.

    This sounds negative, but it's not! That's because it means it doesn't matter which you pick! Either you'll be able to convince yourself whatever you've picked is superior to whatever else you might have done, or you won't. You'll be happy or sad. But you'll (still) be blissfully divorced from reality.

    So worry less about the choice, and more about what color glasses you'll be wearing afterward.
  5. Mar 9, 2009 #4


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    Re: "Major" dilemna

    If you love Physics then i guarantee you will despise a life as an accountant. You have a thirst for understanding which will never be met. (My eldest Sister is a chartered accountant, makes decent money, travels the world, and enjoys it only because she has no curiosity nor craving for understanding. She is a hard worker, but has no flair to the small amount of intellgience which she can claim. Thats the only kind of people who can enjoy the life of an accountant.)
  6. Mar 9, 2009 #5


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    Re: "Major" dilemna

    I think you have a few misconceptions on both sides of the issue.

    On the business side of things, I'm not so sure that it's the meal ticket you make it out to be. Sure it can be easy money, but there are also a lot of people in business who spend their days and nights working until their eyes bleed just to make ends meet. The other issue is one of exploiting people to make money. You don't need a business degree to do that and choosing that route doesn't give you a license to exploit anyone.

    On the physics or engineering side of things: yes it will take time. Physics is not a forgiving discipline when you don't put the time in. The biggest issues that really face physicists with respect to family life come from the fact that post doctoral work is only contract work and often requires a transitory lifestyle.

    It's also worth noting that when you look at the statistics, the mean starting salaries for business majors and accounting majors are about the same.
  7. Mar 9, 2009 #6


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    Re: "Major" dilemna

    I must say you hit it right on. to the OP: Really and truly the two careers can contrast like day and night in terms of curiosity and open-mindedness. But remember, neither is the be all and end all. You can always change your mind later be it in the middle of a degree or a few years down the road. This is my short answer because class is starting lol.
  8. Mar 9, 2009 #7

    Andy Resnick

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    Re: "Major" dilemna

    I want to touch on another misconception here- that somehow business allows more free time than academia. The unfortunate reality is that both require a large amount of time, and both are subject to the work/family dilemma. And unfortunately, rather than elevating women's status in the workforce, men are being brought down to the lowest common denominator.

    In some ways (on-site child care, for example), the business world is further along- partly due to the past 20+ years of equal-rights legislation, but also partly due to the reality that the business world is more nimble.

    More broadly though, your stated choices are extremely limiting- there's a "either/or" character to them that's neither necessary nor helpful.
  9. Mar 9, 2009 #8
    Re: "Major" dilemna

    Please choose B, the world needs physicists far more than we need more business men.
  10. Mar 9, 2009 #9
    Re: "Major" dilemna

    Business will offer plenty of jobs, but if there is a recession (like now), then people start losing jobs.

    Another misconception, not everyone who goes into engineering/physics 'lose' their family life or time with their friends. I know plenty of friends who are doing well in engineering and have a great social life. My cousin is working at a engineering firm and she is doing very well. She can start a family and would have plenty of time to them and their friends.
    It all depends how you manage your time. There is this one guy, who would club every weekend during the semster, but when it came to midterms and finals, he would crack open his book and study like no tomorrow (2 weeks ahead of tests) and do very well.

    You should study something you love and enjoy. Like what monocles said, his father went into business and made all this money, but hated his job. Now he is basically regretting what he has done. Once you grow old and made all the money you wanted, but hated what you did with your life (ie job), you will die a miserable old man/woman. Not only that, if you hate your job, its possible that your hate would spill into you social life, affecting others around you.

    Choose Wisely!
  11. Mar 11, 2009 #10
    Re: "Major" dilemna

    I know how you feel A^6. I'm in almost the exact same position as you, only with Building Construction Management and Physics. I can learn about pipes and toilets all day, or I can learn the way the world works and understand what I'm looking at. But BCM is so easy for me that I am guaranteed to do well, I just have to basically sit in my chair and exist and I'll keep my 4.0. But I see a problem in that. I don't like knowing I'm capable of more.

    Only I can't tell if this "physics" thing is just a phase I'm going through or if it's a permanent true deep interest. That's why I can't decide.

    I would say if you really truely are interested in Physics, do that. If you are really enjoying what you are doing, then you will not have nearly as hard a time with it as you think. You'll find yourself doing things that you wouldn't with other subjects. Like me sometime's doing the entire week's homework for physics at the beginning of the week for "fun". lol. I still laugh that I actually enjoy doing some sort of homework... So like i said, if you really enjoy it, it won't be as hard as it could be if you didn't like it. Also, you don't want to have that feeling of "I could have done something more with my life" for your whole life.

    Good luck with it :). I hope both of us make the right choice.
  12. Sep 13, 2009 #11
    Re: "Major" dilemna

    Wait... can't you do business even w/o a business degree??

    For instance, I want to do either finance or accounting, but also I'd like to do computer science. So maybe I'll go with computer science degree, and then see if I can do the finance/accounting jobs of the company if I decide to change my mind....
  13. Sep 13, 2009 #12
    Re: "Major" dilemna

    Engineers start off in business and finance jobs all the time... and they usually do so with engineer pay (average high 50s). In finance and consulting, as long as you can show that you actually know what you are getting into and you are passionate about it, engineering degrees are preferred to business degrees. See also programs like: http://www.ge.com/careers/students/omlp/index.html.
  14. Sep 15, 2009 #13
    Re: "Major" dilemna

    Really? Then why do they have undergrad business schools?
  15. Sep 15, 2009 #14
    Re: "Major" dilemna

    Someone needs to do the accounting. Most top schools with business schools don't let many if any undergrads into business related majors. There are no undergrads at Harvard Business School. Business type work is on the job training. It's not something you can get much of in class unless you have experience. Engineers make about $10k more on average out of undergrad when compared to business majors, and engineers, for example, are just as qualified to be managers as accountants are, if not more.

    There's nothing wrong with doing well in a business major and going into business. It's certainly possible to do so. But other majors or combinations of majors can stand out and can even have an easier time of it.
  16. Sep 16, 2009 #15
    Re: "Major" dilemna

    I should qualify that I meant outside of straight accounting. If that's what you're into then go for for it. Only business/accounting majors really ever end up as CPAs. Financial analysis and management, investment banking type jobs, general management, and sales/marketing are more open (in terms of major), although the options in any of those can be limited for undergrads.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2009
  17. Sep 16, 2009 #16
    Re: "Major" dilemna

    Also, I think I should comment on the business hate higher up the thread. Engineering jobs are no less a part of capitalism than accounting or other "business" jobs. I think some econ 101 is necessary. Unless you're doing it wrong, making money is about producing something that people are willing to pay you a premium for. Accountants wouldn't have jobs if their corporate overlords could produce more or keep more profit without them.

    It's also perfectly possible to get an engineering undergrad degree, start off in the high 50s, and coast at 40 hours per week with raises slightly above inflation for life. I don't see accounting as somehow being easier money. If you only put in minimal effort in any field your career won't go anywhere. You can have it easy or you can make more money, but unless someone just hands you a pile of cash, there's no such thing as easy money.
  18. Sep 16, 2009 #17
    Re: "Major" dilemna

    So on the issue of accountants making "easy money"... how true is that?
    I heard it's not the most challenging job in the world, and also the working hours are generally more stable.

    Does this apply to, for instance, Wharton undergrads in accounting? Or does it require at least an MBA? I know if the name of the place where you got your biz degree is not top-notch, then it's hard to get a high-paying job as an accountant. So do Wharton undergrads start off with huge salaries, or is it not much different from, say, McCombs?
  19. Sep 16, 2009 #18
    Re: "Major" dilemna

    Doing well in school is still just a ticket for the next stage. Your school won't determine your job. It looks like starting salaries in 2008 in big 4 accounting firms in major cities are in the low 50s but I don't have solid evidence of that. It sounds right given my slightly related experience. People from all sorts of schools will go to those jobs. They aren't easy 40hr/wk jobs either... my friend at KPMG probably works more hours than any engineer I know. Also, the top finance jobs are on Wall Street, not in accounting.

    Do some poking around about big 4 accounting firms and check out their websites.
  20. Sep 16, 2009 #19
    Re: "Major" dilemna

    From the PriceWaterhouseCoopers site:

    Work Hours
    There are no standard hours. Work isn't the same day to day. Hours beyond client service are also part of PwC life (training, recruiting, office meetings, social activities, sports teams, community service, travel time, etc.) Schedules are unpredictable and can change frequently. Deadlines and client demands can drive long hours at certain points. Longer hours, which is part of our business, will vary by person based on client assignments throughout the year. PwC bills clients for the hours worked by our people. Goals are set for you based on expected hours worked for clients.​
  21. Sep 16, 2009 #20
    Re: "Major" dilemna

    Maybe obtaining a degree in both business and physics is an option, or majoring in one and minoring in the other (I know one can usually minor in business).
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