How much do "hard" majors help?

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

Postby jerjon2 » Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:13 am

ConMan345 wrote: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.


I appreciate this viewpoint. Thinking about it this way, I kinda feel like a lot of the later courses I've taken could be analogous to law school clinics. The only caveat to that is that you really still need more degrees after an engineering bachelor's to go very far in your career whereas a law degree is usually it unless you want to be an academic.

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

Postby Quine » Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:30 am

Pankun wrote:
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.


No, it's pretty straight forward: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_and_soft_science

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

Postby ughOSU » Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:37 am

You are rare, so it will give you a little bit of a boost. However, in my experience as a physics/math/mech e, and then history major, I feel that the "hard" science people vastly overestimate the difficulty of their majors, and how much credit they are "entitled" to because of them.

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

Postby englawyer » Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:57 am

i think that eng/science are "harder" in that they require more IQ in the traditional sense. i know plenty of people that can study/schmooze their way to an A in a liberal arts class.

this isn't true for many classes in hard science, especially math and physics. many people accustomed to putting their head down and studying their ass off can struggle in those classes. ironically, the amount of "work" you have to do in these classes is roughly the reverse of their IQ needs. Bio requires intense study and memorization, whereas a lazy genius can waltz through math understanding each concept and hardly do any work.

the ranking of "IQ required":
Math
Physics
Computer Science
Electrical Eng
Chem Eng
Aero/Mech Eng
Civil Eng
Bio Eng
Chem
Bio

i do think liberal arts requires other talents though. persuasive writing, ability to read/understand people, dealing with ambiguity, putting together a cohesive argument. i also think that you need to be much more in engaged in class: attending lectures, getting to know the professor, class participation. i remember being annoyed that I had no idea of my actual grade until i got the test back (looks like we will face this in law school as well).

what's "harder" depends very much on the person

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

Postby jerjon2 » Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:06 am

ughOSU wrote:You are rare, so it will give you a little bit of a boost. However, in my experience as a physics/math/mech e, and then history major, I feel that the "hard" science people vastly overestimate the difficulty of their majors, and how much credit they are "entitled" to because of them.


Did you actually graduate from any of those majors or did you just switch your major several times? I ask because I don't think the first two years of an engineering curriculum is particularly difficult compared to the last two years. I would venture to say that the core engineering classes are easier and require a great great deal less work than later major specific classes. It's also been my experience that the volume of work tends to be far greater at schools that specialize in engineering when compared to the engineering programs of other schools. (This is just anecdotal from the graduate students I know who did undergrad elsewhere, they have a lot more trouble adjusting than people who did their undergrad work at the same school)

Edit: I don't mean for the asking about the major switch to sound condescending or judgmental or anything. I understand that everything isn't for everybody I just asked for the purpose of discussion.
Last edited by jerjon2 on Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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

Postby MC Southstar » Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:07 am

englawyer wrote:i think that eng/science are "harder" in that they require more IQ in the traditional sense. i know plenty of people that can study/schmooze their way to an A in a liberal arts class.

this isn't true for many classes in hard science, especially math and physics. many people accustomed to putting their head down and studying their ass off can struggle in those classes. ironically, the amount of "work" you have to do in these classes is roughly the reverse of their IQ needs. Bio requires intense study and memorization, whereas a lazy genius can waltz through math understanding each concept and hardly do any work.

the ranking of "IQ required":
Math
Physics
Computer Science
Electrical Eng
Chem Eng
Aero/Mech Eng
Civil Eng
Bio Eng
Chem
Bio

i do think liberal arts requires other talents though. persuasive writing, ability to read/understand people, dealing with ambiguity, putting together a cohesive argument. i also think that you need to be much more in engaged in class: attending lectures, getting to know the professor, class participation. i remember being annoyed that I had no idea of my actual grade until i got the test back (looks like we will face this in law school as well).

what's "harder" depends very much on the person


I think you're gonna bait a lot of flames by making that IQ required list... but I don't really disagree with your overall methodology. It is not always true that every department or student of those departments correlates strongly to this schema, but as overall fields of study, I think you're pretty close to the truth. I might put Bio Eng above Civil though. Totally agree with you about bio in general. If you were going to actually throw humanities and such into this mix, I think philosophy would rank pretty high though in general. I think the rest would vary from school to school...

On the other hand, a lot of people in science and engineering don't have the liberal arts skills you're talking about, so I think it's unfair for them to tout absolute superiority. Almost everyone in my comp sci dept. at my major course intensive engineering UG was like a legit analytical genius, made me feel stupid (although most of that was because they did a lot of project work and industry specific reading in their spare time whereas I view my major as easy living). They were also almost all borderline autistic IMO.

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

Postby englawyer » Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:16 am

lol @ borderline autistic. i can agree w/ that. it is not right to say that eng/science >> others overall

i didn't dare rank liberal arts in the list because i knew that would be very controversial...i was just listing my experience from an engineering u-grad.

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

Postby englawyer » Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:18 am

another thing is that the IQ required list is also often proportional to weirdness.

math/physics majors are more apt to do strange things like "live action role playing", whereas many bio majors are well-adjusted premed who will go on to become radiologists etc.

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby ughOSU » Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:19 am

jerjon2 wrote:
ughOSU wrote:You are rare, so it will give you a little bit of a boost. However, in my experience as a physics/math/mech e, and then history major, I feel that the "hard" science people vastly overestimate the difficulty of their majors, and how much credit they are "entitled" to because of them.


Did you actually graduate from any of those majors or did you just switch your major several times? I ask because I don't think the first two years of an engineering curriculum is particularly difficult compared to the last two years. I would venture to say that the core engineering classes are easier and require a great great deal less work than later major specific classes. It's also been my experience that the volume of work tends to be far greater at schools that specialize in engineering when compared to the engineering programs of other schools. (This is just anecdotal from the graduate students I know who did undergrad elsewhere, they have a lot more trouble adjusting than people who did their undergrad work at the same school)

Edit: I don't mean for the asking about the major switch to sound condescending or judgmental or anything. I understand that everything isn't for everybody I just asked for the purpose of discussion.

I took nearly all of the hardest engineering classes required to graduate: thermo, fluid dynamics, solid mechanics, materials science, and all the classes before those. I also was in the honors math and physics program at my school (both engr and physics are among the top programs in the country). I did well in all of them with a 3.5+ gpa, but really disliked the fact that I was getting a one-dimensional education, so I dropped it halfway through my junior year. I had a similar gpa in history (a little higher) because the grading in those classes is so subjective. I just think that in the beginning of my college career I was doing what was easiest to me (technical stuff). It probably required more work to succeed, but overall history required a lot of work if you wish to do really well also.

I wish I could say I would go back and do the same thing again, but having a marketable bachelor's degree sure would be nice.

e: I think the difference is that history/lib arts classes are much more dependent on having a good professor, and you classes can either be great or horrible depending on who your professor is. If you're in an engineering class and have a bad professor, you have to teach yourself the material (and may get a below-par grade). If you're in a history class and have a bad professor, you may get a bad grade, but you also probably don't really need to teach yourself the material, because it doesn't build on itself the way engineering/math/physics does. Either way, your gpa will probably take a hit, it would just require more work in engr to succeed in the next course.
Last edited by ughOSU on Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

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

Postby 84Sunbird2000 » Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:20 am

I just thought I'd post this:

--LinkRemoved--

This shows average LSAT by major. It's heavily mixed. Physics/Math does have the highest, but Philosophy/Religion is 2nd (above all other sciences). Biology, Comp. Sci., and Engineering are lower than English and History. This is heavily outdated, though, and given that most consider modern LG easier and modern RC harder, I'd guess Philosophy/English/History might do even a bit better today.

The best part is that pre-law is 28th of 29. Lol.

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

Postby MC Southstar » Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:20 am

englawyer wrote:another thing is that the IQ required list is also often proportional to weirdness.

math/physics majors are more apt to do strange things like "live action role playing", whereas many bio majors are well-adjusted premed who will go on to become radiologists etc.


I'm not sure bio majors are well adjusted because they are dumber, but rather because most people that go into bio are probably premed and thus are likely to be attune to social expectations and social perceptions and probably desire status, wealth, respect, etc.

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby MC Southstar » Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:22 am

kwhitegocubs wrote:I just thought I'd post this:

--LinkRemoved--

This shows average LSAT by major. It's heavily mixed. Physics/Math does have the highest, but Philosophy/Religion is 2nd (above all other sciences). Biology, Comp. Sci., and Engineering are lower than English and History. This is heavily outdated, though, and given that most consider modern LG easier and modern RC harder, I'd guess Philosophy/English/History might do even a bit better today.

The best part is that pre-law is 28th of 29. Lol.


This doesn't really surprise me, except that physics and math are at the top. Comp sci and engineering students are notoriously bad at reading/writing in comparison to hard sciences, at least AFAIK.

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby Aeroplane » Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:26 am

shadowfrost000 wrote:
kwhitegocubs wrote:I just thought I'd post this:

--LinkRemoved--

This shows average LSAT by major. It's heavily mixed. Physics/Math does have the highest, but Philosophy/Religion is 2nd (above all other sciences). Biology, Comp. Sci., and Engineering are lower than English and History. This is heavily outdated, though, and given that most consider modern LG easier and modern RC harder, I'd guess Philosophy/English/History might do even a bit better today.

The best part is that pre-law is 28th of 29. Lol.


This doesn't really surprise me, except that physics and math are at the top. Comp sci and engineering students are notoriously bad at reading/writing in comparison to hard sciences, at least AFAIK.
This probably applies to physics & math too, but I think even more so in engineering: I am pretty sure that many more engineering majors are non-native English speakers than English/history majors. This has to be considered when comparing LSAT scores among the groups.

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

Postby MC Southstar » Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:32 am

And yeah, after doing interviews for the company I work at, I kinda got the feeling that GPA in CS/engineering/sciences is negatively correlated with personality. A 3.9 with a ridiculous attitude and poor social skills still didn't win me over as much as an upbeat 2.5.... however it IS a programming job, so we don't necessarily care if their personalities are good, just need good worker drones. That's why a lot of places hire a majority of people who can barely speak English (not to mention the fact that the US as a whole sucks at math).

I'm not sure why comp sci attracts the freaky types, but it surely does. There are also a good number of "normal" people, but the rate of weirdness is surely higher. My supervisor at work loves to LARP in his free time.

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby ughOSU » Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:53 am

shadowfrost000 wrote:I'm not sure why comp sci attracts the freaky types, but it surely does. There are also a good number of "normal" people, but the rate of weirdness is surely higher. My supervisor at work loves to LARP in his free time.

It kinda makes sense to me. I think comp sci attracts the type of people who want to sit at a desk all day and not be burdened by having to speak to anyone.

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby MC Southstar » Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:54 am

ughOSU wrote:
shadowfrost000 wrote:I'm not sure why comp sci attracts the freaky types, but it surely does. There are also a good number of "normal" people, but the rate of weirdness is surely higher. My supervisor at work loves to LARP in his free time.

It kinda makes sense to me. I think comp sci attracts the type of people who want to sit at a desk all day and not be burdened by having to speak to anyone.


True... sigh. It's unfortunate that I am like the exact opposite.

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby generals10 » Fri Jan 15, 2010 11:00 am

As someone who majored in a humanity and a social science, anyone claiming that, generally speaking, good liberal arts programs are as difficult as good hard science/engineering programs in any meaningful way--time commitment, difficulty of obtaining good grades, etc.--is daffy. I will say that certain majors within the liberal arts seem to be a lot more challenging than others; philosophy (especially now, with its heavy analytical bent) and religion come to mind. But for the most part, merely doing your assignments in a humanities course will get you the same grades that a lot of engineers have to work their asses off to get. This is borne out by GPA distributions, employer recruiting, and non-delusional people.

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby jerjon2 » Fri Jan 15, 2010 11:05 am

ughOSU wrote:
jerjon2 wrote:
ughOSU wrote:You are rare, so it will give you a little bit of a boost. However, in my experience as a physics/math/mech e, and then history major, I feel that the "hard" science people vastly overestimate the difficulty of their majors, and how much credit they are "entitled" to because of them.


Did you actually graduate from any of those majors or did you just switch your major several times? I ask because I don't think the first two years of an engineering curriculum is particularly difficult compared to the last two years. I would venture to say that the core engineering classes are easier and require a great great deal less work than later major specific classes. It's also been my experience that the volume of work tends to be far greater at schools that specialize in engineering when compared to the engineering programs of other schools. (This is just anecdotal from the graduate students I know who did undergrad elsewhere, they have a lot more trouble adjusting than people who did their undergrad work at the same school)

Edit: I don't mean for the asking about the major switch to sound condescending or judgmental or anything. I understand that everything isn't for everybody I just asked for the purpose of discussion.

I took nearly all of the hardest engineering classes required to graduate: thermo, fluid dynamics, solid mechanics, materials science, and all the classes before those. I also was in the honors math and physics program at my school (both engr and physics are among the top programs in the country). I did well in all of them with a 3.5+ gpa, but really disliked the fact that I was getting a one-dimensional education, so I dropped it halfway through my junior year. I had a similar gpa in history (a little higher) because the grading in those classes is so subjective. I just think that in the beginning of my college career I was doing what was easiest to me (technical stuff). It probably required more work to succeed, but overall history required a lot of work if you wish to do really well also.

I wish I could say I would go back and do the same thing again, but having a marketable bachelor's degree sure would be nice.

e: I think the difference is that history/lib arts classes are much more dependent on having a good professor, and you classes can either be great or horrible depending on who your professor is. If you're in an engineering class and have a bad professor, you have to teach yourself the material (and may get a below-par grade). If you're in a history class and have a bad professor, you may get a bad grade, but you also probably don't really need to teach yourself the material, because it doesn't build on itself the way engineering/math/physics does. Either way, your gpa will probably take a hit, it would just require more work in engr to succeed in the next course.


A lot of people I know didn't go to school for engineering specifically to be engineers. Do you think any of those peripheral careers would have been good for you? (e.g. my girlfriend is graduating in ME to be a financial analyst)

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby 09042014 » Fri Jan 15, 2010 11:15 am

At most universities engineering and hard science courses have substantially more work load. Six hours per week of graded homework (graded for accuracy too btw) was the norm for each class. That is in addition to reading(that I didn't do).

At most universities engineering and hard sciences curve their classes harshly, while liberal arts course don't curve at all. They curved our in major courses to a 2.667. Of course we got to take liberal arts classes so the average gpa was higher. A large percent of our freshman class fails into liberal arts and business. That means people who couldn't hack it in our program go onto excel in yours.

As to whether the material itself is hard, I think you'd be crazy to believe its not, but that is a more subjective call. There are some engineers who can't write, but I got nothing lower than a B on any paper I ever wrote for a liberal arts course (include a 300 level philosophy course), and I got almost entirely A's in courses I took in liberal arts, with maybe 20% the effort I'd put into an engineering class.

I believe most liberal arts students couldn't handle engineering and hard science material, but I know most engineering students can handle liberal arts material.

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby ram jam » Fri Jan 15, 2010 11:29 am

Chemistry, engineering, biology, while demanding as programs of study, do not impart the skills necessary to boost one's performance in law school. A person who has good grades in a courses such as The Founding of the Constitution, while easier to master in content, is a better prediction of law school performance than are good grades in courses like molecular biology.

However, there are undergrad majors that may help to prepare one for law school such as economics. Economics teaches student a new to think. To think in terms of rules and models and to account for exceptions. Economics and the law are very similar in terms of thought processes.

In the end, it is all about numbers. A kid with a 3.9 in creative haiku with a minor in sociology will always be more influential than someone with a 3.2 in Economics with a concentration in econometrics during the admissions cycle.

The best policy is to study something you enjoy and/or are good at. It is much easier to gain good grades if you are truly interested in what you are studying.

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby 84Sunbird2000 » Fri Jan 15, 2010 11:35 am

Desert Fox wrote:At most universities engineering and hard science courses have substantially more work load. Six hours per week of graded homework (graded for accuracy too btw) was the norm for each class. That is in addition to reading(that I didn't do).

At most universities engineering and hard sciences curve their classes harshly, while liberal arts course don't curve at all. They curved our in major courses to a 2.667. Of course we got to take liberal arts classes so the average gpa was higher. A large percent of our freshman class fails into liberal arts and business. That means people who couldn't hack it in our program go onto excel in yours.

As to whether the material itself is hard, I think you'd be crazy to believe its not, but that is a more subjective call. There are some engineers who can't write, but I got nothing lower than a B on any paper I ever wrote for a liberal arts course (include a 300 level philosophy course), and I got almost entirely A's in courses I took in liberal arts, with maybe 20% the effort I'd put into an engineering class.

I believe most liberal arts students couldn't handle engineering and hard science material, but I know most engineering students can handle liberal arts material.


Well, I guess that 6 hours per week of homework per class doesn't seem that unusually hard. I mean, I had two English classes fall on the same day last semester. We had to read a new play (in its entirety) for each class period (twice a week) in each class. One class had 25 tests and quizzes (often very concrete and on obscure portions of the text), a group project, and two double-digit research papers in addition to shorter assignments. The other had cumulative tests with 2 multi-page essays and a 100-plus M-choice section on each test. In addition to that, we had two research papers, a final, long comparative paper, and lit-reviews of journal articles. Yet, I would consider these two of the easier courses I'd taken for my major.

However, U of I's engineering program (that's where you went, right?) is ranked significantly higher than the University as a whole and the liberal arts programs in specific, so your anecdotal evidence may very well be true. I mean, UIUC's engineering program is 5th nationally, and rated higher than Carnegie Mellon, Michigan, Purdue, and Cornell. Overall, it's 39th nationally.

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby 09042014 » Fri Jan 15, 2010 11:45 am

kwhitegocubs wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:At most universities engineering and hard science courses have substantially more work load. Six hours per week of graded homework (graded for accuracy too btw) was the norm for each class. That is in addition to reading(that I didn't do).

At most universities engineering and hard sciences curve their classes harshly, while liberal arts course don't curve at all. They curved our in major courses to a 2.667. Of course we got to take liberal arts classes so the average gpa was higher. A large percent of our freshman class fails into liberal arts and business. That means people who couldn't hack it in our program go onto excel in yours.

As to whether the material itself is hard, I think you'd be crazy to believe its not, but that is a more subjective call. There are some engineers who can't write, but I got nothing lower than a B on any paper I ever wrote for a liberal arts course (include a 300 level philosophy course), and I got almost entirely A's in courses I took in liberal arts, with maybe 20% the effort I'd put into an engineering class.

I believe most liberal arts students couldn't handle engineering and hard science material, but I know most engineering students can handle liberal arts material.


Well, I guess that 6 hours per week of homework per class doesn't seem that unusually hard. I mean, I had two English classes fall on the same day last semester. We had to read a new play (in its entirety) for each class period (twice a week) in each class. One class had 25 tests and quizzes (often very concrete and on obscure portions of the text), a group project, and two double-digit research papers in addition to shorter assignments. The other had cumulative tests with 2 multi-page essays and a 100-plus M-choice section on each test. In addition to that, we had two research papers, a final, long comparative paper, and lit-reviews of journal articles. Yet, I would consider these two of the easier courses I'd taken for my major.

However, U of I's engineering program (that's where you went, right?) is ranked significantly higher than the University as a whole and the liberal arts programs in specific, so your anecdotal evidence may very well be true. I mean, UIUC's engineering program is 5th nationally, and rated higher than Carnegie Mellon, Michigan, Purdue, and Cornell. Overall, it's 39th nationally.


There is no way I believe that most liberal arts classes have anywhere near 6 hours of homework per week, even at the best universities. Unless U of I's liberal arts programs gave out 1/3 the work as top programs do, which I really doubt.

Six hours per class is 30 hours per week in homework alone. Before reading text books, studying for tests, or actually being in class. No way.

Lower ranked engineering programs have similar workload (wouldn't doubt some bad one's even have more). Though the caliber of students is less, and since they are mostly curved they'd be easier relative to the good programs.

I would settle for class rank instead of GPA, even though I believe engineers and science majors do more. Since it was their choice. But comparing GPA's with the different system of grading is just crazy. It's like comparing law schools who curve to a different median without taking it into account.

Actually I really think their should be a set "pre law" course load, and 30ish hours should be what the GPA should be based on. A couple writing courses, philosophy, history, logic, and an economics course or two.

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby ScaredWorkedBored » Fri Jan 15, 2010 11:45 am

I'm not sure bio majors are well adjusted because they are dumber, but rather because most people that go into bio are probably premed and thus are likely to be attune to social expectations and social perceptions and probably desire status, wealth, respect, etc.


This, by the way, is a good reason to avoid bio/chem as a major at large state schools. If you want to meet gunners four years in advance, hang out with premeds. Not without reason because they *have* to major/effectively major in hard sciences, they have to get mostly A's, and it's not uncommon for the curves to be nasty.

Being at a major research university, those classes will also contain your future PhD's/Nobel winners sometimes. Usually not that many of these - but enough for someone to get 105% on the damn test and prove that it should be curved off full points. My brother had a friend who was acing senior & graduate level course work as a sophmore and was probably going to do his actual graduate work at CalTech.

I'm not sure why comp sci attracts the freaky types, but it surely does. There are also a good number of "normal" people, but the rate of weirdness is surely higher. My supervisor at work loves to LARP in his free time.


The best theory I've heard is that Aspergers either corrolates with or has a reasonably common Venn Diagram overlap with very high "traditional" intelligence. Ergo, you get people who are "smarter" (really by different brain functions) but socially abnormal.

This might also explain the reputations of Yale & Chicago, as well as a lot of law professors you meet.

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby 84Sunbird2000 » Fri Jan 15, 2010 11:58 am

Desert Fox wrote:There is no way I believe that most liberal arts classes have anywhere near 6 hours of homework per week, even at the best universities. Unless U of I's liberal arts programs gave out 1/3 the work as top programs do, which I really doubt.

Six hours per class is 30 hours per week in homework alone. Before reading text books, studying for tests, or actually being in class. No way.

Lower ranked engineering programs have similar workload (wouldn't doubt some bad one's even have more). Though the caliber of students is less, and since they are mostly curved they'd be easier relative to the good programs.

I would settle for class rank instead of GPA, even though I believe engineers and science majors do more. Since it was their choice. But comparing GPA's with the different system of grading is just crazy. It's like comparing law schools who curve to a different median without taking it into account.

Actually I really think their should be a set "pre law" course load, and 30ish hours should be what the GPA should be based on. A couple writing courses, philosophy, history, logic, and an economics course or two.


Well, though I think there are more high-wokload upper-level Liberal Arts courses than you think, I didn't mean to say that lower-level engineering pools have it easy. I actually was commenting more on your anecdote that the guys who failed out of your program excelled (or at least passed) business and liberal arts courses. I meant that, considering the high level of overall academic achievement and intelligence necessary to get into a really elite school like U of I's engineering program, it's unsurprising that those who end up in liberal arts would do well, because those liberal arts student pools at U of I aren't nearly as competitive nationwide as the engineering program. I mean, it's not as if most or all UIUC engineering majors had a 34 on math and science reasoning , but a 19 in English and Reading. Even if their respective skill-sets are biased towards math/science, it's probably more of a 34/34 and 27/27 split.

derwin
Posts: 11
Joined: Sat Sep 12, 2009 12:21 am

Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby derwin » Fri Jan 15, 2010 12:32 pm

I am going to run with the ethos provided by the previous IQ rankings. I am a double technical major at a top public university. Having taken extensive upper level technical classes as well as a few higher level liberal arts (nothing too major centric though, so I may not have a representative sample), the difference I would say is two-fold.

First, in technical classes, the curves can often be much steeper. In my most recent technical class, the curve was centered on a C, i.e. #A's = #F's, #Bs=#Ds, and #Cs>#Bs>#As, with a slight leniency towards the bottom - a few C's became B's, and most F's dropped. In the liberal arts classes I took, there were never any curves - if you got the lowest score in the class, an A- was still possible (albeit not probable).

Second, in technical classes the workload is much heavier. I would spend a few hours a night working on homework and studying, usually about 10-15 hrs/wk per class (20+ for finals). In my liberal arts classes, I had at most an hour of reading a night, and when time came to write papers, I could knock those out in about five hours (fifteen for final papers). Now, I did not take any classes that required more than four, at most five papers, so again my perspective could be skewed, but I am very inclined to say the technical majors require more of a time commitment.

So, in summary, at my university, in my experiences, technical majors work longer hours for on average lower grades. The "difficulty" of the concepts is too subjective to enter into this discussion, but from a perspective of what is the value of a grade in a technical major vs. the value of a grade in a liberal arts major, I would posit that the technical major is more difficult and therefore their grades should be counted more highly.

With that said however, a quick trip to LSN will show you that aside from, as was mentioned before, a few schools looking to boost their IP roster (or maybe just actually giving a "hard major boost," who knows) and accepting borderline technical majors over borderline lib. arts majors (occurrence <10%), the difference is absolutely nothing. I.e. if you are in a technical major, you can feel better about your 3.5 than a liberal arts major, but it really will not do you much good as far as law school is concerned - and that sort of makes sense: they don't hire lawyers to integrate anything other than legal concepts.
Last edited by derwin on Sun May 23, 2010 4:24 pm, edited 3 times in total.




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