How much do "hard" majors help?

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Kobe_Teeth
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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby Kobe_Teeth » Thu Jan 14, 2010 9:55 pm

It seems like schools who tout their IP programs are dying to get engineering majors so I would imagine if you played up an engineering degree you could get a slight bump or leeway for your GPA.

...And like I said "slight" and I am merely speculating from a dean's reaction to a student saying he was an engineering major and that the school and firms were "dying for them." This was at a T2 in Illinois (so you got a 1 in 3 shot of guessing correctly...).

However, I doubt this leeway or bump extends to math or physics majors, etc.

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84Sunbird2000
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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby 84Sunbird2000 » Thu Jan 14, 2010 9:57 pm

Marisa5252 wrote:
kwhitegocubs wrote:
tesoro wrote:
ScaredWorkedBored wrote:3.51 in hard sciences is better than 3.51 in political science. It's not as good as 3.8 in political science.


+1. Adcomm panel of GULC, GWU and Mason at work was unanimous: engineers / "hard" majors get more life with a high LSAT score than do poli sci majors. If 10/230 applicants with a 173/3.51 are to get accepted at columbia, i've been led to believe that 7 of them will likely be "hard" major students.

This is the only boost I'd expect you to see. I'm a fellow "hard major" applicant and this has been my experience so far.


So, can these people who believe their major was "hard" rank the majors? I'm constantly befuddled by the notion that science majors think their major was harder than liberal arts students, and I kinda take umbrage with it. However, I'd like to see this hierarchy spelled out specifically.



"Hard" doesn't translate to "difficult" here. "Hard" describes the major as having a basis in the "hard" sciences vs. the "soft" sciences. Hard sciences = bio/chem/physics and in this case engineering. Soft sciences = polysci, sociology, anthro, etc. Soft sciences also equals "social sciences," whereas hard sciences also equals "physical sciences." No one is judging your english major.


I think this thread has mixed both meanings. I can't possibly have a problem with your meaning, but one quoted Illinois' Pless about "difficult" majors, and a couple of other posts appear clearly to not mean "hard sciences", but instead "hard" as in difficulty. One called them "cupcake", and another put "Hard major" in quotes rather than "hard" major. I may have misinterpreted some of the posts, but I think it's mixed between "hard" and "hard". :D

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84Sunbird2000
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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby 84Sunbird2000 » Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:02 pm

betasteve wrote:The hard sciences are most certainly more difficult, on average, than the soft sciences.


How so?

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MC Southstar
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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby MC Southstar » Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:02 pm

kwhitegocubs wrote:
betasteve wrote:The hard sciences are most certainly more difficult, on average, than the soft sciences.


How so?


It's hard to prove, just trust us. Usually you can just tell by the grade distributions though.
Last edited by MC Southstar on Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Marisa5252
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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby Marisa5252 » Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:03 pm

betasteve wrote:The hard sciences are most certainly more difficult, on average, than the soft sciences.


titcr - but then again I'm probably biased...

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prezidentv8
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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby prezidentv8 » Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:03 pm

<grabs popcorn and soda>

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BioEBear2010
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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby BioEBear2010 » Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:07 pm

prezidentv8 wrote:<grabs popcorn and soda>


Ditto :lol:

ScaredWorkedBored
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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby ScaredWorkedBored » Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:08 pm

kwhitegocubs wrote:
betasteve wrote:The hard sciences are most certainly more difficult, on average, than the soft sciences.


How so?


Students in Great Books: "Thank God I got a B, I didn't read a thing all semester."

Students in Fluid Dynamics: "Thank God, I PASSED! ON MY SECOND TRY!"

Marisa5252
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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby Marisa5252 » Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:10 pm

betasteve wrote:
kwhitegocubs wrote:
betasteve wrote:The hard sciences are most certainly more difficult, on average, than the soft sciences.


How so?

Hard sciences require more problem solving, abstract thought, and critical thinking application. Generally, all things that you can't bullshit your way through.



well put - also there is generally 1 CORRECT answer to most questions. You don't just argue whatever you want and get an A for including all the random facts you remember from lecture in a poorly written essay. And before I get blasted I did take non-science classes, I did do well on them, and I did use this method.

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84Sunbird2000
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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby 84Sunbird2000 » Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:11 pm

betasteve wrote:
kwhitegocubs wrote:
betasteve wrote:The hard sciences are most certainly more difficult, on average, than the soft sciences.


How so?

Hard sciences require more problem solving, abstract thought, and critical thinking application. Generally, all things that you can't bullshit your way through.


In what way do soft science or arts majors not have to engage in abstract thought or critical thinking? I'll admit that our problems are never "solved", but that's why I think it can sometimes be MORE difficult - it's constantly searching and trying to prove without hope of finding a hard, universal answer. I'd just like to point out that I had a higher GPA in my elective science classes than my soft science and liberal arts electives and had an 800 on the GRE quant, so I'm not just saying this because I'm clueless at math and science.

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prezidentv8
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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby prezidentv8 » Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:13 pm

Marisa5252 wrote:
betasteve wrote:
kwhitegocubs wrote:
betasteve wrote:The hard sciences are most certainly more difficult, on average, than the soft sciences.


How so?

Hard sciences require more problem solving, abstract thought, and critical thinking application. Generally, all things that you can't bullshit your way through.



well put - also there is generally 1 CORRECT answer to most questions. You don't just argue whatever you want and get an A for including all the random facts you remember from lecture in a poorly written essay. And before I get blasted I did take non-science classes, I did do well on them, and I did use this method.


To be fair, I'd say that I prefer having just one answer. Might just be my college or department, but many professors I had would actively try to find reasons not to give an A. Not that the material was any harder, but they were just finicky for no good reason. I ended up liking my mathy classes. I could actually just be right for once!

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MC Southstar
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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby MC Southstar » Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:19 pm

I wouldn't necessarily go so far as to compare the relative difficulty of the different fields of study... or their importance in the universe....

I just think the way you are graded and what is expected of you in terms of accuracy and performance differs.

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kurama20
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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby kurama20 » Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:25 pm

BearDownChicago wrote:I know Dean Pless at UIUC is big on difficult majors. He said he would prefer someone with a lower gpa but a hard major (engineering/accounting/math) than a higher gpa but cupcake major (advertising/history/communications)

edit: obviously within reason


That avatar is just insane....

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stratocophic
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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby stratocophic » Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:26 pm

kwhitegocubs wrote:
betasteve wrote:
kwhitegocubs wrote:
betasteve wrote:The hard sciences are most certainly more difficult, on average, than the soft sciences.


How so?

Hard sciences require more problem solving, abstract thought, and critical thinking application. Generally, all things that you can't bullshit your way through.


In what way do soft science or arts majors not have to engage in abstract thought or critical thinking? I'll admit that our problems are never "solved", but that's why I think it can sometimes be MORE difficult - it's constantly searching and trying to prove without hope of finding a hard, universal answer. I'd just like to point out that I had a higher GPA in my elective science classes than my soft science and liberal arts electives and had an 800 on the GRE quant, so I'm not just saying this because I'm clueless at math and science.


It's the difference between having reading which you can choose to do or not and having daily homework, for one thing. Sure, you have to do those assigned readings in the end, but it's different. I've had at least 1 class every semester where I spent 3-6 hours per daily assignment... and then got 3 of 4 possible points on 80% of those assignments. This is generally 25-40% of the grade. Then, you get to take the same concepts and apply them the next semester, meaning that you're a goner if you didn't get them the first time around. You can believe it or not, but facts is facts: on the whole, as an average, however you want to put it, hard sciences are more difficult than humanities/social sciences. It's not a matter of disrespect, I wish SO HARD that I'd majored in something else.

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84Sunbird2000
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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby 84Sunbird2000 » Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:31 pm

betasteve wrote:
Elective science majors are nothing like actual in-major classes. Every retarded sorority girl at my undergrad took Astronomy, and, like, omg, they all got like A's and B's and stuff, and such.
As to social science problems they can't be solved... they are just postulations based on varying lens and a snapshot of variables in social science. Striving for an explanation that isn't "the" answer because one doesn't exist does not make it harder - it gives more opportunity to be right (or right, then). Some scientific questions may never be solved, but there is an answer out there. I think that speaks toward the difficulty of the matter. There EXISTS an answer, but the entire human species is not yet smart enough to figure it out... That is drastically different than we don't know the answer because there are too many variables.


Well, I'd argue that Advanced Grammar, and upper-level Liberal Arts courses are considerably more stringent than Composition I as well. I understand that lower-level courses in any discipline are easier when I took Physics I, and only came to class for tests (it was at 8AM and I'm NOT a morning person) and a few labs and got a 104%. That being said, I've always found hard sciences easier to grasp (because they are finite) and thus not as challenging as English or Philosophy, which are infinite and open-ended but still vitally important. I took every AP course in HS and got As in all but 1 (and I was the youngest in my HS to ever take AP Calc for that B), but I just felt like it was dead because there was an answer and it was the only answer. In a way, hard sciences make me feel powerless - there's no creation to the same degree there is in a poem or essay.

However, back to the OP's point, I'd guess more schools agree a tiny bit more with Betasteve than with Me, but in the end the almighty USNews' GPA stats will win.

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prezidentv8
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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby prezidentv8 » Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:33 pm

kwhitegocubs wrote:In a way, hard sciences make me feel powerless - there's no creation to the same degree there is in a poem or essay.


Same way I felt, although I'm more of the polisci/history/econ type. Shoulda grabbed a stats degree while I was at it, but I got into that sort of thing too late.

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Gamecubesupreme
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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby Gamecubesupreme » Fri Jan 15, 2010 12:35 am

While it is certainly arguable whether hard sciences are more difficult than soft sciences, I believe from a work-load point of view, hard science majors have a much tougher life. Especially the engineering majors.

I know poli sci and English majors who bitch and moan about the 30 pages of reading they have to do for a class while my engineering friends have spent over 10 hours a day on their group projects.

It's just not the same.

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prezidentv8
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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby prezidentv8 » Fri Jan 15, 2010 3:12 am

Gamecubesupreme wrote:While it is certainly arguable whether hard sciences are more difficult than soft sciences, I believe from a work-load point of view, hard science majors have a much tougher life. Especially the engineering majors.

I know poli sci and English majors who bitch and moan about the 30 pages of reading they have to do for a class while my engineering friends have spent over 10 hours a day on their group projects.

It's just not the same.


Ahhh group projects blow

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BioEBear2010
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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby BioEBear2010 » Fri Jan 15, 2010 3:35 am

prezidentv8 wrote:
Gamecubesupreme wrote:While it is certainly arguable whether hard sciences are more difficult than soft sciences, I believe from a work-load point of view, hard science majors have a much tougher life. Especially the engineering majors.

I know poli sci and English majors who bitch and moan about the 30 pages of reading they have to do for a class while my engineering friends have spent over 10 hours a day on their group projects.

It's just not the same.


Ahhh group projects blow


Yeah, group projects can be rough. I spent ~ 10 hours a day for 4 days straight for my cell lab class last semester. The homework sets and midterms are not much kinder. Then again, I love getting a 60% on a midterm only to learn that the average was in the 30's =)

jerjon2
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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby jerjon2 » Fri Jan 15, 2010 3:45 am

kwhitegocubs wrote:
betasteve wrote:
Elective science majors are nothing like actual in-major classes. Every retarded sorority girl at my undergrad took Astronomy, and, like, omg, they all got like A's and B's and stuff, and such.
As to social science problems they can't be solved... they are just postulations based on varying lens and a snapshot of variables in social science. Striving for an explanation that isn't "the" answer because one doesn't exist does not make it harder - it gives more opportunity to be right (or right, then). Some scientific questions may never be solved, but there is an answer out there. I think that speaks toward the difficulty of the matter. There EXISTS an answer, but the entire human species is not yet smart enough to figure it out... That is drastically different than we don't know the answer because there are too many variables.


Well, I'd argue that Advanced Grammar, and upper-level Liberal Arts courses are considerably more stringent than Composition I as well. I understand that lower-level courses in any discipline are easier when I took Physics I, and only came to class for tests (it was at 8AM and I'm NOT a morning person) and a few labs and got a 104%. That being said, I've always found hard sciences easier to grasp (because they are finite) and thus not as challenging as English or Philosophy, which are infinite and open-ended but still vitally important. I took every AP course in HS and got As in all but 1 (and I was the youngest in my HS to ever take AP Calc for that B), but I just felt like it was dead because there was an answer and it was the only answer. In a way, hard sciences make me feel powerless - there's no creation to the same degree there is in a poem or essay.

However, back to the OP's point, I'd guess more schools agree a tiny bit more with Betasteve than with Me, but in the end the almighty USNews' GPA stats will win.


This just isn't true. Almost all of my upper level classes are entirely open ended as far that is concerned. Programming for instance is a lot of creativity and ingenuity. Most programming classes I've taken require you to come up with your own software applications by the end of the semester. I took a class on hacking that required my partner and I to write our own spyware programs. I had a friend that graduated last year who helped create a communication system for a kid that is paralyzed from eyes down for his senior design project. That's hardly a "one answer" scenario. Engineering is entirely open ended and problem solving and solution development is driven by creativity.

drsomebody
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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby drsomebody » Fri Jan 15, 2010 3:45 am

The ease and difficulty of social science, humanities, and "hard" science classes has much more to do with the culture and pedagogy of departments than it does with the underlying material. I can guarantee that I could design a class in my field (history) with deeply analytical exams and final projects that would be as "difficult" as any engineering or "hard" science class.

The hardest class I ever took as an undergrad wasn't my stats class and it wasn't my geology class and it wasn't my mind-numbingly boring EE class (the first and last straw in my aborted attempt to become an engineer). It was a cultural geography class. That class kicked my ass and I learned an amazing amount of material.

If majoring in a "hard" science helps one in law school admissions my suspicion is that it's because there are fewer of them applying to schools and diversity in majors (paired with a need for patent lawyers) is something adcoms look for in their admissions decisions.

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ConMan345
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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby ConMan345 » Fri Jan 15, 2010 3:55 am

FWIW, I've thought about engineering undergrads as in a kind of professional school. We have our law school, they have their Fluid Dynamics, Machine Learning, Applied Matrix Theory, etc. They can work in their field after graduation, we still need a law degree after ugrad. I'm not saying they're equal, but I think they're analogous.

This is at least the argument I've used to assuage the resentment of my engineering friends while I was enjoying myself as an undergrad, lol.

bfarring
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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby bfarring » Fri Jan 15, 2010 4:25 am

I would imagine that it probably all depends on who you are. I don't know a lot of people who majored in "hard" sciences AND in "soft" sciences who have different GPAs from each one. Basically, you can't compare. I know a ton of engineers (my undergrad had really strong engineering programs) who barely passed their lower-division humanities courses and would have been murdered by any upper-division history course and who studied a "hard" science because their parents made them or they thought that history and philosophy were too hard. Of course, the opposite is true as well, plenty of history/philosophy/polisci/sociology majors go the route that they do because they couldn't get past precalculus. For most people, thinking that you can do equally well on either side of the spectrum is not true.

Of the "soft" sciences which I studied (and don't regret studying) history and philosophy are probably hardest. Political science and sociology and communications get a bad rap because within those majors more people who are just "mediocre" can get a 2.0 and graduate in 4 years. But these majors are not a joke for people who are interested in them and do well.

To answer the original question... I think that you majored in engineering sets you apart not because engineering is harder but because there are fewer engineering majors who apply to law school. The more you can differentiate yourself from other applicants (in a good way) the better.

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Pankun
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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby Pankun » Fri Jan 15, 2010 5:40 am

I think its true that the "hard" sciences are more difficult than the "soft" sciences in the sense that one who gets an A in a hard science class is capable of getting an A in a soft science class, but vice-versa isn't true. I say that because in the "soft" sciences there is a large memorization component, while in courses like physics and math its a lot of theorem proving (i.e. inductive and deductive reasoning). On that note, even though there is often only one "correct" answer in math/physics, the creativity stems from how you arrive at that answer or how you prove a theorem (did you do it via brute force? or did you employ some creative method that no one else in class thought to use?).

EDIT: Also AP-level calculus is fundamentally different than most good math departments in the US. The AP exam tests your ability to apply formulas, do integrals/derivatives for standard functions, etc. On the other hand, college level math usually focuses on theorem proving.

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Pankun
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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby Pankun » Fri Jan 15, 2010 5:50 am

Marisa5252 wrote:"Hard" doesn't translate to "difficult" here. "Hard" describes the major as having a basis in the "hard" sciences vs. the "soft" sciences. Hard sciences = bio/chem/physics and in this case engineering. Soft sciences = polysci, sociology, anthro, etc. Soft sciences also equals "social sciences," whereas hard sciences also equals "physical sciences." No one is judging your english major.


My understanding is that hard sciences are math/physics/chemistry, and soft sciences are biology/medicine. Social sciences are just social sciences, and engineering/computer science are engineering. Some schools have computer science in their natural science departments, it probably reflects the schools inclination towards the more theoretical aspects of CS.




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