View Full Version : What to do at university?
03-26-2011, 09:03 AM
Here's the problem, that I'm sure a few of you here have run into:
I'm at the stage of picking a university degree course, and I still don't know what to do. Most of the top universities in USA and UK will be open to me, and the institution is no issue (again, probably like most here).
I am very good at and enjoy all of the following: Politics, Philosophy, Electrical/Mechanical/Nuclear Engineering, Physics, Math, English Literature, History, Economics and Law.
And I can't decide which of courses to take. At the moment I'm leaning towards Engineering since it's an actual skill and the job market looks fairly good at the moment.
The kind of advice I would appreciate is job market, prospects, what the university courses are roughly like (for example, I'm worried Literature would be paying large uni fees to read lots of classics which I do in my spare time anyway) and which of the subjects there would be most enjoyable for an INTJ.
Thanks in advance.
03-26-2011, 09:36 AM
Well if you're looking for something "pratical" you best bet is engineering, economics, maths or law. However, law isn't an undergrad degree in the USA.
Engineering probably gives you the most flexible in terms of jobs, and the job market is fairly good. However, you won't be driving Ferraris by being an engineer, unless your a managing partner or something.
Math is always in need, but seriously, if you want to do math, I think engineering would be a better option. There are always jobs available for math grads, but once again, compared to other options, promotions and glass ceilings can be a problem. A lot of math grads go work in the back offices of big companies, where they slave away with long hours and their pay doesn't really compare to those in the middle and front offices.
Law is always a strong option. It's a recovering sector in terms of the number of jobs available, but by the time you graduate, and all goes well wit the recovery, job prospects should be looking like pre-GFC. Of course the pay can be fantastic (1 million + for partners/ directors of Magic Circle firms) but can be stressful.
Economics is also a sector that's making the recovery. Economics is really only a worth while degree if you go to a good university and get fantastic grades. From there you can go onto jobs like Investment Banking, Hedge Funds, consultancy. These sorts of jobs we're talking graduate salary of 80k base pay and 80k bonuses. (However, in America you might to get an MBA before getting these sorts of jobs). If you go to a middle-tier school or get middling grades, you might be looking at pretty average jobs with an economics degree. Of course high paying jobs are possible, but you might need to do a bit more connecting/ cold calling/ sparkling resume to get an interview.
As for the courses, since all Unis differ slightly from one another, you could probably look up the university your interesting in and look at their curricular.
03-26-2011, 11:25 AM
Thanks a lot for your answer, it's very helpful. One of my problems is with the emphasis society puts on "what you are" instead of "what you do." This leads me to be too self-image conscious when considering university courses, ie it would be more interesting "to be" a graduate of philosophy than "to be" an English graduate when people inevitably ask.
You're right about the practical skill of engineering, economics, maths and law. I hear a lot of people saying they wish they'd walked out of uni with a skill rather than feeling more confused than before (Philosophy).
Just out of interest, what is your profession?
Math and Science please. We need more people in these fields. You will never have to worry about not being able to find a job. Engineers and scientists are in very high demand because people just aren't getting those kind of degrees as much anymore.
03-26-2011, 11:47 AM
Yeah, it's important not to let what others perception of your studying affect choice.
The problem todays is that if you walk out of uni with a "non-practical" degree, not only will you have trouble finding a job, but you'll also be burdened with Uni loans. However, I have a feeling you're an international student, so in that case, I assume your parents will be footing the bill.
For me, I would go the practical route. Philosophy, English and History I can access and study easily in my own free time, and I certainty don't need Professors my spoil my enjoyment of English with more essays and over-analysis. I don't think it would be nice to finish 3 years of University and feel more confused and rootless than when you first entered Uni.
And I'm currently studying Medicine. For me, I guess I'm quite lucky my interests coincided with an area that's well-paid and stable, so I'm not sacrificing interest for future or vice versa. However, I was offered the chance to study a dual Commerce/Law degree, which to this very day I wonder "what if I had done that instead". Personally, I am still attracted to the high-intensity, high stakes Corporate world.
Also, a straight Science is essentially a research degree.
What you can consider is a Engineering degree and then later an MBA. It seems to be a potent combination.
If you don't know what you want to end up doing, I'd recommend electrical engineering. Because electronics are literally in everything these days, you can work in almost field you want. The fundamentals you learn in electrical engineering are applicable to many other fields. I consider EE as an engineering degree and an applied math degree - so you'll learn:
- most of the math required to understand thermo and fluid dynamics
- you'll learn how to program at a very low level, i.e. assembly, which is useful in understand how the higher level languages work
- that math required to understand electrical systems and feedback/control theory is directly applicable to studying vibration in mechanical engineering
- studying the flux of magnetic lines is directly applicable to studying the diffusion equation for nuclear reactors in nuke engineering
- aerospace engineers study a lot of control theory, but they don't get down to the nitty, gritty math like electricals do
Even if you decide not to go into EE as a career or for grad school, it will give you an excellent background to do whatever else you want to do. You'll have enough of a background in physics and math to quickly bring yourself up to speed in any field you want to.
Engineering isn't a socially popular field these days. You may not get as much recognition as doctors, lawyers, or business tycoons, but engineers have their finger in everything. Whenever society collapses because of war or natural disasters, you can't rebuild without engineers. No other field has the knowledge and know-how to do so. You might not be driving around in Ferraris, but you, and your family, will be able to live quite comfortably.
And you can still be a philosophy, English, or History buff while studying EE. When I took my nuclear engineering class, my professor got both is undergrad and masters in EE, but got his PhD in Nuclear Engineering. Because so much of Nuclear Engineering relies on particle detection, lasers, etc, he had a huge advantage with a strong background in EE because he could understand how all the detectors actually worked - they weren't black, magic boxes to him.
And FYI, I have a few friends in mechanical engineering, and all their senior projects are basically miniature EE senior design projects - there's almost no mechanical aspect to them at all. And it's really easy to get a math or a physics minor while majoring in EE, you just have to take another 2 classes in each.
so...I recommend electrical engineering.
03-26-2011, 11:03 PM
Go to a teacher college. You will have a better pick of women and you know they will get jobs that they can support you with once they graduate.
I have an econ degree, am getting a Master's in Public Policy and work full-time in business management right now. I recommend you either go with business or statistics as your major, given your interests.
03-27-2011, 04:55 AM
I wouldn't worry too much about status, and certainly not take philosophy on account of it.
03-28-2011, 12:45 PM
Thanks for your help all. I'm probably going for Electrical Engineering, it was already my personal bias of the things I listed above, and the useful posts here and information elsewhere confirm the fact that it would be good for me.
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