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POLL for Most useful 4 year degree

  1. Apr 9, 2007 #1

    Just for fun I thought I would ask what everyone's opinions are on what the most useful 4 year degree is nowadays. Lets say any 4 year b.s. arts or science, doesn't matter. Most useful meaning: well, you could take in account most jobs, or most pay, if thats what you think is most useful. Or you can base it on what you think would be the most fun or exciting job.

    I'll start, I know these people dont want me to share their secret, but folks with their economics degree just always seem to find a way to be rich. I guess spending all that time thinking about money does something to you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 9, 2007 #2


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    obviously philosophy can be very useful. (-:
  4. Apr 9, 2007 #3
    :rofl: How about a double major: English literature and Art History.

    To be serious for a moment. If I wanted to get a job I would major in Statistics or Engineering.
  5. Apr 9, 2007 #4


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    but in your case i think you can get a respectable job as a teacher in high school, where i dont know about philosophy, do you get to learn philosophy in high school?
  6. Apr 9, 2007 #5
    Just for a 4 year degree, probably Engineering, or else biological sciences.
  7. Apr 9, 2007 #6


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    High school students are nowhere near mature enough to learn philosophy.
  8. Apr 9, 2007 #7
    A dual major in finance and economics strikes me as being worth the most. In terms of net present value anyway. If you were to take such a program, I believe it would be a two degree deal. A BBA in finance, and a BA/BS in economics.

    Statistics and computer science also strike me as being very useful.
  9. Apr 9, 2007 #8
    You forgot the poll part :(

    Either way, I'm sure this will just come down to the majors being represented here on PF as being useful!
  10. Apr 9, 2007 #9
    Heh, not necessarily. My undergraduate degrees are in physics and math. But I would say that neither fits the bill for "most useful 4 year degree." Basically I chose physics because I like it, not because it's the most useful degree I could get.

    If by "most useful," we're talking about employability, then I'd have to go with either engineering, or a business degree supplemented with some education in information technology. Engineering majors can get jobs straight out of college, whereas the rest of us need to go to grad school. And business majors seem to find gainful employment as well, especially if they've got some IT skills. Granted, both types of people will end up in a cubicle from 9 to 5, slaving away to make some dude at the top rich (precisely why I'm going into academics instead). But if you don't mind that sort of thing, it seems to me that engineering and business are excellent degrees for getting employed.

    But who knows? These days a lot of engineering jobs are getting offshored to India. So maybe in a decade those of us with PhDs will have the last laugh.
  11. Apr 9, 2007 #10
    This is true, I was once worried about this as a Comp Sci major but I realized, if you are a bad programmer or bad engineer your job might be at jeapordy but if you know what your doing and your good at what you do, you won't have to worry about that.

    There a tons of horror stories of projects that came back once they sent them overseas with lack of communication/problems in translation.
  12. Apr 9, 2007 #11
    I don't mean to put a downer on this discussion, but don't be so sure about that. Back in my hometown, a local IBM has been cutting quite a bit of its engineering team. Some of it is offshoring, but some of it is also due to a policy by which the company lays off older engineers before they can retire (and thus receive the benefits package), and hires fresh recruits from college. I happen to know that most of those guys were darn good at their jobs. Just the other day at church I ran into one of my dad's old friends who got laid off a couple years back, and he still hasn't found another engineering job. I hate to say this, but from what I can see, there's not too much job security in the computer industry. Since you're still a student, I would recommend making long-term job security a priority when you go job hunting.
  13. Apr 10, 2007 #12

    thats true. I wasn't saying it never happens, but i'm no longer afraid of being in my major is what I was saying. Before I was hesistant to even be in the computer industry even though I did love it.

    I don't plan on staying a Software Engineer forever, I was reading up in some business mags and they all recommend you try to get into the management position asap.

    If you stay too long as an engineer or programmer you can be replaced but if you get where the company depends on you, then your job will be alot safer than if your just another run of the mill engineer that can be replaced by a cheaper college student.

    But this also applies if your in any industry not just computers. Companies don't like to give benefits. My brother and cousin who both work at wal-mart warehouse as laberors see it all the time, wal-mart lays off alot of the workers and just hires new ones right before they have to pay any type of benefits.
  14. Apr 10, 2007 #13
    game-dev....mmmm so a cs/math major; pharmaceuticals, aeronautics.
  15. Apr 10, 2007 #14
    I would think that would be one of the worst markets to try to get into
  16. Apr 10, 2007 #15
    I know a couple guys who are doing this...they are in their early 20s, have already purchased homes, have good free time if they want it, and love doing their jobs (to the point of staying at work longer than they have to just because they like it). So I guess if you enjoy it, it could be pretty good.
  17. Apr 10, 2007 #16

    I also know some guys who are unemployed and just sit at home coding game demos to try to get hired. Everyone wants to get into the game industry, its like a dream job thats why its so selective and competitive.

    Its a hard market to get into but if you can get into it, then your in good shape if its a big company that isn't going to go under anytime soon.

    Also job security isn't that great for game devs. A lot of games don't get off the development stage and are tossed out either becuase the game just sucks, or its costing too much money and they want to invest more resources into a bigger and better game and your "let go".

    I'm taking this from talking to one of the head guys at EA games (he was a lead programmer in a few games now he's a manager and doesn't do much coding), he had a video conference with some of Comp Sci department students.

    But of course if this is what you love to do and your good at it, statistics don't matter, you do what you love to do.
  18. Apr 10, 2007 #17
    Game development is a win/lose field, where only the top 5% developers control the entire market.

    If you're lucky enough to be part of designing a popular game, you'll get to own several houses and cars the next few years. Otherwise, you gain nothing in return of spending 5+ years making a disaster of a game. Although you'll only gain experience through but with little money or practical nothing in your hands.

    If you want a job that starts out at 90k a year and is always in demand, major in pharmacy or in chem/bio/whatever to become a pharmacist. Then come to Florida or a state where there are a bunch of senior citizens. As a pharmacist:

    1. You get to deal with old people who like eating at Country Kitchen Buffet.

    2. You can get another pharmacist job within a day after quitting (it is impossible to get fire unless you give the wrong drugs to the patience causing him/her to die and you losing your license.)

    3. People need medicine. No matter how poor they are, they will get their hands on medicine.

    4. Demand of pharmacists have been rising and will probably never see a decline.

    I base these points on the fact I worked as a pharmacy tech for 4 years and my uncle, cousin, and aunt are pharmacists who talked to me about their jobs. My 2 friends are also pharmacists. Plus, I've lived in south Florida all my life and know how senior citizens think.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2007
  19. Apr 10, 2007 #18
    good point fizziks,

    but do you love what you do?

    If i was just getting a job for the money I would become a lawyer or a doctor.
  20. Apr 10, 2007 #19
    I think that the job security issue not only goes for game development, but software or tech jobs in general.

    My uncle got his degree in math from princeton, then went on to get an "engineers degree" I think it's called (non-thesis phd) from MIT, and is incredibly smart, but has had some difficulty with employment...he's been with a couple companies in software development I believe, that just shut down and moved away, and has had some periods without work. Not that he doesn't have a good amount of money and isn't successful, but you would think with his credentials that he would have had an easier time (compared to people I know in business and law).
  21. Apr 10, 2007 #20
    My uncle is a Software engineer, he got his Computer Science degree from Penn State (where i'm going currently) and is very successful. I believe he only took a few courses in actual programming. He has 6 kids, putting 3 through college at the moment and is still loaded and has time to spend tons of time with the family.

    He had to job hop around alittle while he was younger but worked at some big companies such as Unisys.

    He's not a genus but he has a great personality and works well with people. He chose when he wanted to move to the next job, rather then being forced to move.

    Currently he's working at a small company as the only programmer and IT guy so he basically names his price and they pay him.

    His best advice to me is it isn't what you know, its how you present yourself. I believe it as well, tons of kids from MIT tried for the co-op position that I got, they are probably better programmers than me, smarter than me (930 combined SAT scores :P), but had no personality and didn't get past the 2nd stages of interviews, if the first manager doesn't like you, then your **** out of luck.

    I also found it interesting that 2 of my friends go to MIT. One is super smart, the other is a wrestler who gets just passing grades. The one who was more physically active, and not "nerdy" got the internship in CA with EA games. My "nerdy" friend didn't get the co-op with ibm nor any other internship/co-op.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2007
  22. Apr 11, 2007 #21
    I had lots of pressure from my parents and peers to study pharmacy. I didn't do it because I didn't like the field, no matter how much money could be made. Even it offered me 170k a year, I wouldn't want to waste 40-50 hours of my week making money so I can spend less of that time doing something I like. Even if the money helped supported my interests.

    Yeah, you're right, game design/programming isn't one of those fields where you even need a degree in college nor a 3.0+ GPA to get into. I've been playing PC games and involved with the gaming community for well over 15 years. I've seen how a simple freelance map designer who made custom levels as a hobby become one of the biggest names in the PC gaming industry.

    To get into the gaming industry you need imagination and creativity which cannot be taught in any school or by anyone. And that's why cartoons are great at any age because it expands your imagination :)
  23. Apr 11, 2007 #22


    Useful isn't a good way to describe a degree, life isn't about any one single thing, its all subjective. Some people want piles of money, some people enjoy sitting in the freezing cold at night waiting for a solitary glimpse of Saturn's F ring. To me, useful should be about self-satisfaction - if you choose your degree for anything else, well, remember we just don't live that long...
  24. May 9, 2008 #23
    may be physics
  25. May 9, 2008 #24
    major in recreational studies, minor in massage therapy
  26. May 9, 2008 #25
    Philosophy is wasted on people you can freak out by telling them that George Washington didn't really cut down a cherry tree.
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