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Toughest college degrees?

  1. Feb 19, 2014 #1

    joshmccraney

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    please, check this ridiculous site out: http://www.thebestcolleges.org/top-10-easiest-and-hardest-college-degree-majors/

    and now that math and computer science are at the top FOR THE EASIEST please, let's start ripping this author a new one (i'm obviously not actually angry, but come on, these two are among the hardest!)

    yes, i have a BS in math and am in grad school for mechanical engineering, although id like to think im impartial.

    your thoughts??
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 19, 2014 #2
    Not surprised? You Googled "hardest college degrees" or something like that and clicked the first link, which goes to thebestcolleges.org.....

    It's pretty obvious by the URL alone that it's not a reputable site. These sorts of online lists, rankings, etc. are almost never accurate because they're usually a result of one person's opinion with little or no hard data to back them up.

    No biggie, move on.
     
  4. Feb 19, 2014 #3
    Define "hardest degree" . For me philosophy and or psychology are pretty tough nuts to crack , whereas some psychology student might think : "omg this math is doing my head in". It's all a matter of opinion. Maybe you can get some idea about the popularity of different degrees based on these lists, but not how difficult the coursework is.
     
  5. Feb 19, 2014 #4

    Ryan_m_b

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    By what metric would you rate if a college degree was hard or not? Failure rate is the only thing I can think of but thats not perfect.

    EDIT: just flicked through the site and saw how they judge it

    Seems fairly reasonable. But I'm skeptical of how they present their results. Some are presented as schools (e.g. Humanities) and others as individual subjects (e.g. Math). I doubt that every humanities subject from history to classical literature is so similar I'm value that they can be clumped together.
     
  6. Feb 19, 2014 #5
    Failure rate alone could be mis-leading.

    and again, I find "tough" to be Boring, same shade of grey on a different day. What is the definition of tough? On the flipside, we could also ask, which of the degrees are most rewarding, in terms of employment possibilities, knowledge acquired over the course? I just find this question "which is the toughest" too ..I don't even know the word. What I mean is, if you go to a pharmacy, you don't ask the clerk like :"ok, what's your best medicine?"
     
  7. Feb 19, 2014 #6
    By the metrics of the site then math is among the easiest degrees because the degree requirements for math tend to be extremely loose which makes a hard path completely optional.
     
  8. Feb 19, 2014 #7

    WannabeNewton

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    Why is this surprising? An undergraduate math degree is definitely easier than numerous other standard, well-established undergraduate degrees. I have friends in the liberal arts who have to do a ridiculous amount of essay writing, speech preparation, and readings. Compared to that the typical undergraduate coursework in math certainly doesn't compare so it's quite biased to assert otherwise.
     
  9. Feb 19, 2014 #8

    joshmccraney

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    care to name a few???
     
  10. Feb 19, 2014 #9

    joshmccraney

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    and lets remember, with math comes (real) analysis, (abstract) algebra, topology, (hyperbolic/differential) geometry...and to think liberal arts are HARDER. you could argue (though i still wouldn't buy it) that liberal arts require more work, but surely they are easier than these courses math majors are subject to.
     
  11. Feb 19, 2014 #10

    Ryan_m_b

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    This conversation, and particularly these kinds of responses, seem pointless. Any field can point to big words backed up by complicated work. Whether or not something is difficult really depends on the aptitude and attitude of the person doing it. If we were to say that X is difficult or Y is easy we're really saying that for the majority of people this is the case. But that in itself is really hard to measure.

    If the site we're discussing has done it's work properly then it shows that math courses aren't as difficult according to the metrics described above. That's it really, there's no need to take it personally. No one is saying that maths degrees are a walk in the park nor that only geniuses can get degrees in humanities subjects.
     
  12. Feb 19, 2014 #11
    Agreed, Ryan.

    Though, here's my objection to the metric: Who selects "mathematics" as their major? Those with an interest in dedicating their time to the study of math. They tend to be quite intelligent (at least in maths and sciences) and focused on their studies. This:
    does not seem like a useful metric. Whether it is difficult or not is not necessarily dependent on the GPA of the students enrolled in that major. I knew plenty of math majors (and engineering, physics, etc) who had 3.8+ GPAs. This is because they studied hard, they were hard working, and they were naturally bright.

    I also knew folks in life sciences as well as psychology courses who would spend little time on some courses (skating by for credit) and focused on their courses of interest. In this scenario, the maths majors had high GPAs in difficult courses and the life sciences majors had comparably lower GPAs in (subjectively) easier courses. I wonder how much they corrected for outside activities, and how they corrected for students who didn't care that much in class (or just didn't have the chops) vs math students who were naturally bright... One often hears people selecting life sciences courses because they like the idea of it, but then find out they aren't cut out for it or they didn't understand what was involved. Same for psychology, some people select it out of default, thinking that it's just talking and listening, and shouldn't be that hard (which could account for some of the lower GPAs and extra time required to complete assignments if they weren't invested in the work) whereas one does not typically choose mathematics as fall-back degree; one typically excels at the work in their youth, and elects to continue down that dark path for their future career.
     
  13. Feb 19, 2014 #12

    joshmccraney

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    yes, but i'm not preaching to the masses, i'm assuming the audience here personally relates to these big words. to a humanities major, sure, this seems pointless.

    yes, but these are shaky sufficient conditions (if the work is correctly conducted and if these metrics are reliable). these both i take aim with.

    it sure seems like thats what the article suggests.

    not trying to argue tho, and since that seems where this is headed, ill excuse myself from conversation.
     
  14. Feb 19, 2014 #13

    WannabeNewton

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    Take your pick of Indo-European languages or English literature, German literature etc. or Biological sciences...I mean I can keep going on and on. I've seen the amount of work my friends have in their liberal arts classes, chemistry classes, language classes etc.-I could take alg top, functional analysis, and diff top all at the graduate level in the same semester and still not have anywhere near the same amount of painstaking work.
     
  15. Feb 19, 2014 #14
    I feel that there's no easy major or hard major in general; it's a pointwise thing that depends on each person separately!
     
  16. Feb 19, 2014 #15
    The hardest major is life itself. Many attempt it, few pass, but we all learn a little something along the way.

    :!!):thumbs::approve:
     
  17. Feb 19, 2014 #16

    jgens

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    No worries guys. WannabeNewton is clearly lying because everyone knows he doesn't have any "friends" heh heh
     
  18. Feb 19, 2014 #17
    Many math degree programs dont require those classes so why should they factor in if they are optional.

    Here look at MIT's math requirements.

    http://web.mit.edu/catalog/degre.scien.ch18.html
     
  19. Feb 19, 2014 #18

    joshmccraney

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    uggg. nevermind. if you've taken these classes you know what i mean. if not, ignorance is bliss. again, i double majored economics/math in undergrad and am in mechanical engineering (allegedly hardest) in graduate school, so i speak with experience.
     
  20. Feb 20, 2014 #19
    Taken those courses but it doesnt change the fact that it wasnt a degree requirement.
     
  21. Feb 20, 2014 #20
    How can they even reasonably think that this would be an indicator of hard majors? Most of the math majors I know have been preparing for being a math major since early high school, and have a passion for the subject, they are going to do well. Furthermore, there are less math majors. I'll even go so far as to say that majors like math, physics, etc are usually only attempted by "smart" (hardworking) people.

    I will agree with the lists data, but the conclusions theydraw from them are not even linked. Engineering is not the hardest major just because the average engineering student spends a lot of time with halo 4, league of legends, and bud light.
     
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