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Should Someone pursure career based on skill or happiness

  1. Apr 16, 2015 #1
    Hello Everyone

    I am not 100 % sure if this belongs in career thread, so please feel free to tell me if this needs to be moved.
    I am currently happy with the career path I have chosen, I am still pursuing my MS in Electrical Engineering. However, lately I have been curious about something. I understand that humanities and fine arts get the heavy hand of disdain from most people due to them considered "impractical". I have felt some of this discrimination in sciences, myself via unwillingly having Physics BS. My real point is, if someone is truly skilled or talented to have a higher GPA is the humanities (or fields like Journalism,Communications, Fine Arts ) does that mean they should pursue it. Even if fields like Comp Sci, Engineering, Technology are considered more difficult, should one pursue these things for their market while struggling instead of doing something else they may enjoy. I can go into more detail if needed, but basically if someone could potentially have a 3.5+ History versus a 2.5 or lower in Engineering, should skill determine their career decision or their heart.
     
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  3. Apr 16, 2015 #2

    Dale

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    Generally people enjoy things that they are skilled at, so I am not sure that the distinction makes a lot of sense. That said, any given person typically has multiple skills and multiple passions. Some of those will be more marketable than others, so it is worthwhile to think about the different options available and how to make the best individual tradeoff between the various skills and attitudes that you have.
     
  4. Apr 16, 2015 #3

    CalcNerd

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    Using GPA to measure skill is NOT an accurate measuring stick. A world class institution (such as MIT) sometimes doesn't even provide a GPA, because 70% of their students would be 2.0 students vs Harvard may have a lot of soft science graduates with a 3.5 GPA. Can you determine who is the more skilled?
     
  5. Apr 16, 2015 #4

    atyy

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    Do you have any evidence for this?
     
  6. Apr 16, 2015 #5

    SteamKing

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    Having a high GPA in a subject does not necessarily mean that you can make a viable living in this field. There are all sorts of graduates in the Humanities who got high marks in school who are living in their parents' basement, struggling to pay off student loans. The STEM fields are more difficult, because they require the mastery of more complex material in order to obtain a degree in one of these fields, hence the demand and the remuneration for these graduates outstrip those for people who study the humanities.
     
  7. Apr 16, 2015 #6

    russ_watters

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    Agreed. The higher GPA in humanities vs STEM doesn't have anything to do with skill/talent; STEM is just harder. Based on that, unless one had a practical path for a humanities degree (teaching, advertising, treading water until law school), I wouldn't consider it a good idea unless exceptionally talented - ie, in a way not measurable by GPA.
     
  8. Apr 16, 2015 #7

    StatGuy2000

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    I find it interesting how there seems to be this consensus that STEM is harder than the humanities, because during my university days, I've often struggled in the senior level humanities course I had taken than my math/stats/CS courses at any level (I was required to take 3 humanities/social science courses as part of my "breadth requirements", of which one had to beyond the introductory level).

    And as an aside, I graduated from the University of Toronto, which in Canada has a reputation for being among the more intense and rigorous academic curricula in all areas (both STEM and non-STEM).
     
  9. Apr 16, 2015 #8

    SteamKing

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    STEM, IMO, is considered harder due to the variety of different subject material and skills which one must exhibit in order to be successful. The amount of math and science information one must master is daunting.

    However, that being said, it is not always clear cut that someone who does well in studying the humanities would necessarily not do well in studying the STEM field and vice versa; I'm sure there are plenty of talented people who would be successful no matter what the field in STEM or the humanities.
     
  10. Apr 16, 2015 #9

    CalcNerd

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    Evidence? Mine is anecdotal, but can be easily verified as to grading policies. MIT doesn't issue a GPA for freshman or sophomore course work, simply a pass/fail mark. Harvard (or Yale) do provide GPA information, and their student body would NOT accept low grades to be issued to them (for all sorts of reasons, mostly political, but they are also a selective school of top notch students in general). I am not saying Harvard cooks the books, they have high standards. I am saying comparing the two schools based upon their two measuring systems will be like measuring apples to oranges. Another measuring device is needed.

    The original poster seemed to believe having a Higher GPA equated to being better in one subject that having a lower GPA in another subject. That may work at a lower education level, but do you feel it holds for the example I provided above?
     
  11. Apr 16, 2015 #10

    Vanadium 50

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    It would have been a good idea for you to have done exactly this verification yourself. See http://wiki.mitadmissions.org/Freshman_Pass_No_Record
     
  12. Apr 16, 2015 #11

    symbolipoint

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    That is a very interesting system. That may work well for MIT because the students are highly motivated. Methods like that are used at a few other types of institutions, but at many of these, the students are typically disinterested in what they study.
     
  13. Apr 16, 2015 #12

    analogdesign

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    In my experience, for the vast majority of STEM students humanities or general education courses are a lot easier for them. I certainly did much, much less work to get an A in music or history than I did in an engineering or physics class.

    Also, I did have friends who were humanities majors who didn't do a hell of a lot of homework and almost never were on campus at night. Some of them get better GPAs than I did even though I worked night and day. Also, I had friends who did practically no work and while they didn't have stellar grades, that kind of work ethic would have gotten them flunked out of the college of engineering.
     
  14. Apr 16, 2015 #13
    I appreciate the comments. My general consensus so far is that even if is harder/longer to achieve an applicable STEM education, most students are better off in the long term with their STEM backgrounds versus those who have humanities/fine art backgrounds (even if they have much higher GPA ).

    For those of you who are commenting, I am not saying GPA dictates success. I am asking is it better to be a superstar in humanities/fine arts / business degrees versus being a mediocre student in engineering/sciences.

    I know there can be contention between certain fields like accounting or architecture, but I am genuinely concerned. Ill even add to the fact that even though I am re-pursuing engineering, I have an affinity for history, but I never pursued it because I felt it would not lead to a career I was comfortable with.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2015
  15. Apr 16, 2015 #14

    analogdesign

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    If you're truly a superstar, maybe, but a 3.5 in History is not a star. A mediocre STEM student might have better overall career prospects that a star History major... UNLESS the plan is for the History student to go to get an MBA or a JD.
     
  16. Apr 16, 2015 #15
    Ok then, maybe I should alter my superstar GPA example. I was considering what an awesome GPA would be in engineering. So i will increase it to (3.8+) in humanities/arts versus (roughly 2.5+) for engineers/science. Does that make this a little easier to understand my point.
     
  17. Apr 16, 2015 #16

    analogdesign

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    I think doing something you're good at is important, but the real test is do you love it. I'm an engineer but I was actually stronger in humanities in high school. I scored higher on the verbal section of the SAT than I did on the math. I chose STEM because I love it, not because I suck at humanities.
     
  18. Apr 16, 2015 #17

    symbolipoint

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    Superstar, as in being very successful. Yes. Some such graduates are that. Try to meet some of them and ask each if he or she studied much of any Mathematics, Computer Science, or any physical sciences. I'm not saying they did one way or the other; I'm just saying, ask some!
     
  19. Apr 16, 2015 #18
    By superstar.. I was not talking about people who already have great careers. All I meant was that these are people who have A+ GPA in their majors. Replace superstar with "someone who has a high GPA" .
     
  20. Apr 16, 2015 #19

    symbolipoint

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    That would make the gpa=4 physical science student more likely to be a superstar than the gpa=4 humanities student. MORE LIKELY, but not absolutely assured.
     
  21. Apr 17, 2015 #20

    StatGuy2000

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    It depends on the nature of the humanities majors and where they study. From my perspective, only the introductory or first year humanities courses tended to be easy, in the sense that one can plow through the material without putting too much work at all and get decent grades. I find that this ceased with the senior humanities course I took, which relied on heavy reading, and lengthy term papers that ate up a considerable period of time (which, given my course schedule, meant I struggled with them). But again, this really depends on who is teaching the humanities courses, the nature of the courses, and where the courses are being taught.

    For the record, I pursued a math/stats degree, and I ended up getting taking a senior history class and I only ended up getting a B despite putting a lot of work; by contrast, I pretty much ended up with straight A's in my math & stats courses (which I put a tremendous amount of work to pull off).
     
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