How much do "hard" majors help?

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09042014
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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby 09042014 » Fri Jan 15, 2010 12:34 pm

kwhitegocubs wrote:
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.


That is something I didn't consider.

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby ughOSU » Fri Jan 15, 2010 12:34 pm

jerjon2 wrote: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)

Yes I do. I couldn't be an engineer unless I landed a dream engr/consulting job. I worked for a summer as an engineer and despised every second of it. Unfotunately I didn't realize at the time that a degree in engineering garners you a bit of "street-cred" if you're looking for technical jobs.

I was actually looking in to PhD Statistics programs before I got in to Penn, and likely would have put school off a year and gone to a stat program over law school if I didn't get into a T9 school (oddly part of me wishes that happened). The main criteria for peripheral careers to engineering, however, is a good understanding of numbers, and I think I already have that (one point from perfect on GMAT quant), so I doubt I would be too tough a sell if I decided to go back to school for a technical grad program like Stat. However, if I were to try to go after a finance/numbers-intensive job without going back to school I doubt that people would get past the BA in History.

In the end, I'm sure I'll end up using my quant ability somehow. I do plan on taking a couple classes at Wharton, and I have a lot of connections in NYC consulting and finance, so who knows? maybe I'll end up doing that in a few years.

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

Postby Haribo » Fri Jan 15, 2010 1:27 pm

To chime in and agree with what most others have said, it isn't that the "hard" sciences are any more difficult intellectually (when pursued at degree programs of approximately equal stature) but rather the workload and curving means that most engineering/physics/math/etc majors have lower GPAs and a whole lot less fun during college.

Anecdotal evidence incoming, I minored in English literature (and as such took upper-level seminars with long papers) and spent a mere fraction of my time on these classes. Engineering classes have problem sets, and in the worst case scenario, with three engineering classes, your problem sets could be sucking up 30+ hours weekly. On top of that are group projects, labs, final projects, and of course studying for the tests. Also, I did a lot of electrical engineering and computer science projects, where you could spend hours and hours chasing a single bug in the code. It wasn't like writing a paper, where you can continue finessing it infinitely but once you've reached the word count, well, you've reached the word count. Instead, you literally had no idea if it would take an additional half an hour to get the stupid robot to work/pinball game to display/car to take voice commands, or if it would take 3 or 4 more all-nights. Or if it would never get done and you'd fail the class. In general, engineering majors have it much harder in college... but the flipside is once you graduate it's much easier to get a job :)

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby tesoro » Fri Jan 15, 2010 1:36 pm

I'm not going to scour the arguments below, but I wanted to add what makes a "hard major" a hard major indeed.

At my school, the college of engineering's dean's list cut-off freshman year (top 30%) was at 3.23. The college of arts and sciences was 3.55.

This statistic speaks volumes. Yes, you might be right that political science isn't any easier than electrical engineering. But you sure got as hell lot more A's, because you didn't experience the in-depth, 2-year long curve-to-C+/B- weeding process that engineers did.

The boost is small, miniscule even. But I think it's fully justified. I also agree that engineers should be held accountable to prove their worth by scoring high on the LSAT, and only then forgiving a low GPA. I hope that clears things up a bit.

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby jerjon2 » Fri Jan 15, 2010 1:45 pm

Desert Fox wrote:
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.


At Georgia Tech something like 6 hours a week on homework is more of a minimum. Some classes end up having about twice that. I tend to take easier classes and I would venture to say that the six hours would apply to 2 or 3 classes and then I would have 2 or 3 classes that had significantly more work in any given semester. I'm talking about circuit prototyping and programming labs most specifically. I took a class in hacking last semester that required about 15 hours a week in lab work. That's not a class, that a part time job....

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby ughOSU » Fri Jan 15, 2010 6:03 pm

To me, keeping your head above water in engr/math/physics requires a certain minimum level of work, and that minimum level of work to keep your head above water is much lower for humanities/social sciences/english. However, in order to really succeed in either area requires a similar amount of effort for most people.

However there are exceptions to every rule. I'll never forget this one kid in my mech e, honors physics, and honors math classes. The kid never took a single note (except during one or two particularly obscure lectures in twentieth centry physics). He graduated with a 4.0 GPA doing nothing but sitting in class absorbing knowledge. I doubt he would have had a 4.0 if he had taken a bunch of non-technical courses, as the grading in those classes is much more subjective, and you're bound to have at least one professor who just doesn't like the way you write. To each his own.

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby afterglow99 » Fri Jan 15, 2010 6:24 pm

Subjective grading will often limit the amount of As given in humanities courses at many schools. It ends up being ridiculously easy to pull a B+, but damn near impossible to pull an A. Many hard science classes will likely end up with more As because of the objectivity of the material.

Check this video and compare the distributions for hard sciences versus humanities at McGill -- --LinkRemoved--

See 4:28 for a mcgill admin describing how As are far more common in the sciences than in liberal arts. This isn't Bumblefuck U either, this is the best school in the country. Whoever is bashing humanities majors as having a walk in the park for 4 years is out of touch with reality. See 7:56 for comparison between As in engineering and As in poly sci.

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby GeePee » Fri Jan 15, 2010 6:40 pm

afterglow99 wrote:Subjective grading will often limit the amount of As given in humanities courses at many schools. It ends up being ridiculously easy to pull a B+, but damn near impossible to pull an A. Many hard science classes will likely end up with more As because of the objectivity of the material.

Check this video and compare the distributions for hard sciences versus humanities at McGill -- --LinkRemoved--

See 4:28 for a mcgill admin describing how As are far more common in the sciences than in liberal arts. This isn't Bumblefuck U either, this is the best school in the country. Whoever is bashing humanities majors as having a walk in the park for 4 years is out of touch with reality. See 7:56 for comparison between As in engineering and As in poly sci.

To be fair, McGill is an anomaly. Not only is it known mostly for its liberal arts programs, but it tends to be quite grade-deflating. Conversely, at most universities there is pressure for professors to curve up grades when very few students have objective As, and very little pressure for professors to curve down when very many students have objective As in the liberal arts.

Conversely, with a set curve there is very little room for ambiguity, with the exception of occasional forgiveness at the often small margins.

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby prezidentv8 » Fri Jan 15, 2010 6:48 pm

afterglow99 wrote:Subjective grading will often limit the amount of As given in humanities courses at many schools. It ends up being ridiculously easy to pull a B+, but damn near impossible to pull an A.



A-, the story of my college life.

Edit: My polisci senior seminar class comes to mind, where we had one assignment - a major research paper - which I got an A on. I also had perfect attendance. My final grade? A-. Son of a bitch.

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby ApexChaser » Fri Jan 15, 2010 8:54 pm

afterglow99 wrote:Subjective grading will often limit the amount of As given in humanities courses at many schools. It ends up being ridiculously easy to pull a B+, but damn near impossible to pull an A. Many hard science classes will likely end up with more As because of the objectivity of the material.


While I agree that the subjectivity of grading in many humanities courses affect grading, I disagree with your assessment of hard science classes. There were recommended medians for the courses in engineering at my school (2.7 for lower div. and 2.9 for upper div). The objectivity of the material meant that a harder exam was created to "correct" averages. This was generally followed by the professors, but I did not see a similar issue in the humanities courses I took where the class average usually worked out to 3.3 or higher.

afterglow99 wrote:Whoever is bashing humanities majors as having a walk in the park for 4 years is out of touch with reality. See 7:56 for comparison between As in engineering and As in poly sci.


I don’t think people are arguing that humanities have a walk in the park. The issue is that “hard” majors have to put in relatively more hours for lower results. I lived with communications, psych, and history folks. Funny enough, when a fellow comm. complained about workload to my comm. roommate, my roommate looked at him and said, “You have no idea what ‘a lot of work is’ unless you live with an engineer.” It’s not bashing, but we’re asking for understanding as to why our lower gpa’s don’t infer lower performance compared to humanities.

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby ENGINEERD » Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:11 pm

I know I am bias because I am an engineering major but it is retarded to argue that any liberal arts major is as hard as electrical engineering. (Which is not my major) Just take a look into any senior level electrical engineer text book and see if you can understand any of it. I certainly can pick up a political science text book and understand at least some part of it. It would be nice if all majors were created equal but they are not so give credit where it is due.

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby Gamecubesupreme » Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:48 pm

ENGINEERD wrote:I know I am bias because I am an engineering major but it is retarded to argue that any liberal arts major is as hard as electrical engineering. (Which is not my major) Just take a look into any senior level electrical engineer text book and see if you can understand any of it. I certainly can pick up a political science text book and understand at least some part of it. It would be nice if all majors were created equal but they are not so give credit where it is due.


But that's because you're predisposition to being biased by assuming everyone will find engineering textbooks hard and liberal art textbooks easy.

I have numerous engineering friends who can blaze through engineering text with ease, but can't understand a philosophy treatise to save their life. For some, math and science just comes much easier than English. For others, the reverse is true.

I will concede that the average student can slack off more in liberal art courses than hard science courses, but it would be ignorant for one to state flat-out that engineering courses are objectively harder than liberal art courses.

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby drsomebody » Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:51 pm

ENGINEERD wrote:I know I am bias because I am an engineering major but it is retarded to argue that any liberal arts major is as hard as electrical engineering. (Which is not my major) Just take a look into any senior level electrical engineer text book and see if you can understand any of it. I certainly can pick up a political science text book and understand at least some part of it. It would be nice if all majors were created equal but they are not so give credit where it is due.


This is a fun argument. Following this logic should I presume that, say, Chinese is the most difficult topic to study in a university because I couldn't pick up even an introductory text book and make sense of it?

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby BioEBear2010 » Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:58 pm

drsomebody wrote:
ENGINEERD wrote:I know I am bias because I am an engineering major but it is retarded to argue that any liberal arts major is as hard as electrical engineering. (Which is not my major) Just take a look into any senior level electrical engineer text book and see if you can understand any of it. I certainly can pick up a political science text book and understand at least some part of it. It would be nice if all majors were created equal but they are not so give credit where it is due.


This is a fun argument. Following this logic should I presume that, say, Chinese is the most difficult topic to study in a university because I couldn't pick up even an introductory text book and make sense of it?


lol, that's good stuff.

Anyway, back to the original topic at hand. Regardless of what constitutes a "hard" major (which I believe is truly subjective -- as an engineer I don't think that I would have had an easy time as, say, a rhetoric major), math/science/engineering students are a rare commodity and are thus viewed favorably by law schools. Just like everything else in college admissions (ethnicity, work experience, age of applicant, etc.), diversity matters.

Also, engineering students tend to have lower GPAs than their non-engineering peers, and many law schools seem to acknowledge this disparity (I have heard that this is particularly true among the top law schools).

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby drsomebody » Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:22 pm

So, using my astounding RC skills I've come to the realization that all y'all are having problems with definitions and, as such, are arguing past each other. I'll break it down:

(1) There is an argument about the relatively difficulty of the underlying material in various majors.

(2) This is a distinct (but conflated) argument about the relatively difficulty of achieving good grades in various majors. People who believe that some majors are objectively more difficult than others are arguing that the answer to (2) follows from the answer to (1). I think this is total bullshit and is easily disproven by watching the video about McGill posted earlier.

(3) There is an argument (the only one relevant to the OP's question) about the impact that any disparities will have on law school admissions.

I'll give my .02

(1) This argument is useless. Different people are good at mastering different kinds of logics. There are far too many factors involved in calculating "intelligence" to reasonably argue that folk who excel in engineering are mastering a more difficult topic than those who excel in the social sciences or the humanities. The only way to "prove" that science/math folk are "smarter" is to buy into circular reasoning. That argument usually boils down to something like this: People who are good at the kind of logic that is required for success in the hard sciences are smarter than those who are good at the kind of logic that is required for success in the "soft" sciences and humanities, therefore people who do well in the hard sciences are smarter than those who do well in the soft sciences. If you did well on your LSATs you should realize how easy it would be to "weaken" this argument.

(2) This argument is easily proven by objective metrics. The culture of science departments in the U.S. in general results in a more difficult grading system. More people get lower grades in these majors. This isn't necessarily true in other countries.

(3) Law schools like diversity and like folk who have good post-graduation job options. IP lawyers are in demand and a smaller percentage of hard scientists go into law. So doing a hard science or engineering major is a good "soft" that can help make-up for sub-par grades. Law schools might also factor in (2). But you're not going to get a "gimme" for getting bad grades.

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby ughOSU » Fri Jan 15, 2010 11:05 pm

ENGINEERD wrote:I know I am bias because I am an engineering major but it is retarded to argue that any liberal arts major is as hard as electrical engineering. (Which is not my major) Just take a look into any senior level electrical engineer text book and see if you can understand any of it. I certainly can pick up a political science text book and understand at least some part of it. It would be nice if all majors were created equal but they are not so give credit where it is due.

you are right, you are biased. A friend of mine graduated with a 3.9 gpa in EE and is now in the phd program at UIUC. We were in the same writing seminar and he got a B. I got an A. It has to do with what you're good at. Most people choose not to focus their efforts in an area they aren't good in, and most people tend to focus their efforts in areas they are good in. The grammar in those two sentences is terrible.

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby GeePee » Sat Jan 16, 2010 1:29 am

ughOSU wrote:
ENGINEERD wrote:I know I am bias because I am an engineering major but it is retarded to argue that any liberal arts major is as hard as electrical engineering. (Which is not my major) Just take a look into any senior level electrical engineer text book and see if you can understand any of it. I certainly can pick up a political science text book and understand at least some part of it. It would be nice if all majors were created equal but they are not so give credit where it is due.

you are right, you are biased. A friend of mine graduated with a 3.9 gpa in EE and is now in the phd program at UIUC. We were in the same writing seminar and he got a B. I got an A. It has to do with what you're good at. Most people choose not to focus their efforts in an area they aren't good in, and most people tend to focus their efforts in areas they are good in. The grammar in those two sentences is terrible.

You're sure you got an A in that writing seminar ;)

Just kidding. However, that's not necessarily a fair comparison if the friend had to devote hours and hours a week to problem sets in another class and couldn't do all of the work in a less important writing seminar. People that don't go to law school aren't overly concerned about classes that won't matter for them at all.

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby Aeroplane » Sat Jan 16, 2010 11:14 am

GeePee wrote:
ughOSU wrote:
ENGINEERD wrote:I know I am bias because I am an engineering major but it is retarded to argue that any liberal arts major is as hard as electrical engineering. (Which is not my major) Just take a look into any senior level electrical engineer text book and see if you can understand any of it. I certainly can pick up a political science text book and understand at least some part of it. It would be nice if all majors were created equal but they are not so give credit where it is due.

you are right, you are biased. A friend of mine graduated with a 3.9 gpa in EE and is now in the phd program at UIUC. We were in the same writing seminar and he got a B. I got an A. It has to do with what you're good at. Most people choose not to focus their efforts in an area they aren't good in, and most people tend to focus their efforts in areas they are good in. The grammar in those two sentences is terrible.

You're sure you got an A in that writing seminar ;)

Just kidding. However, that's not necessarily a fair comparison if the friend had to devote hours and hours a week to problem sets in another class and couldn't do all of the work in a less important writing seminar. People that don't go to law school aren't overly concerned about classes that won't matter for them at all.
Without getting involved in the larger debate, I want to +1 the bolded. One of the reasons for my B- in Intro to Management, NOT a hard class.

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby tesoro » Sat Jan 16, 2010 12:25 pm

drsomebody wrote:
ENGINEERD wrote:I know I am bias because I am an engineering major but it is retarded to argue that any liberal arts major is as hard as electrical engineering. (Which is not my major) Just take a look into any senior level electrical engineer text book and see if you can understand any of it. I certainly can pick up a political science text book and understand at least some part of it. It would be nice if all majors were created equal but they are not so give credit where it is due.


This is a fun argument. Following this logic should I presume that, say, Chinese is the most difficult topic to study in a university because I couldn't pick up even an introductory text book and make sense of it?


I think you sort of destroyed the analogy here. This guy is an engineering major. S/he learned all the fundamentals of engineering (calc 1-4, mechanics, circuit theory, calc-based physics, probably chemistry, and depending on which type of engineering he may have background in electronics and signals), and couldn't understand any EE. Why? Because level 500+ EE courses go into mathematical concepts that are HARD. I was an EE major. When I would walk into a class like "Introduction to Photonics," I would have no fucking clue what was going on. None. Zero. I was typically an A student. In order to understand the 12 pages of derivations that draw on every single foundations class I ever took, I had to attend office hours at every possible timeslot, and absolutely work my balls off to gain mild understanding. Walking into a chinese classroom totally falls out of the analogy because I have no foundation whatsoever in chinese.

This all being said, I got an A- in the class. How? EE is curved, so yes, getting higher grades in the subject matter is still possible by edging out the class. In a high-level class like Photonics, a mild understanding was more than most people could muster and thus an A- was attainable with understanding 60% of the subject matter. That doesn't make it easy.

My point above is that the college of engineering at my school, and seemingly many schools, curves lower than the college of liberal arts. Again, I'll draw on dean's list cutoffs for freshman year (posted earlier): 3.23 versus 3.55, respectively.

If on average, a liberal arts student in the top 30% had a .32 gpa higher than an engineering student in the top 30% of the class, then there is an indisputable punishment GPA-wise for those taking engineering courses. We don't really care about the GPA disparity, because the industry is going to pay us whether we have a 2.2 or a 3.7 since we all have marketable skills. However, it's nice that law schools might be more apt to accept a guy with a 3.2 in EE than a 3.2 in political science, because the guy in EE had to fight a lot more curves and beat out a lot more students for that grade than a political science student did.

This is why it is justified. While yes, engineering is harder than liberal arts (indisputably), that isn't why engineers should be given a boost in admissions. It's because engineers GPAs are indisputably lower than liberal arts kids GPAs for the same class ranks within their respective colleges. Again, the boost is extremely limited (i.e., it doesnt appear to go beyond choosing the 170/3.2 with an EE degree over a 170/3.21 with a political science degree), but it's certainly warranted to those engineering students who prove their GPA was a product of the curve by obtaining a high LSAT score.

This is on a tangential line, but just to stir the pot: To argue that a degree in anything including political science, history, philosophy, anthropology and the like was as hard as this is completely ignorant. The world of employment realizes this (average STARTING salary for a fresh graduate in EE: $55,000. average salary of an average american: ~$40,000). If anyone could do it, EVERYONE would do it because the job security of the degree is unmatched. Anyone who's taken a simple economics class knows that if a profession is profitable, it quickly becomes oversaturated, becomes less profitable, and finds an equilibrium. Unfortunatley, most people don't have what it takes to flood the engineering market. I started college on an "engineering floor" in the dorms. By the time I moved on to sophomore year, of the 15 people I spoke to on the floor, only myself and one other student hadn't dropped out.

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby ScaredWorkedBored » Sat Jan 16, 2010 1:10 pm

This is on a tangential line, but just to stir the pot: To argue that a degree in anything including political science, history, philosophy, anthropology and the like was as hard as this is completely ignorant. The world of employment realizes this (average STARTING salary for a fresh graduate in EE: $55,000. average salary of an average american: ~$40,000). If anyone could do it, EVERYONE would do it because the job security of the degree is unmatched. Anyone who's taken a simple economics class knows that if a profession is profitable, it quickly becomes oversaturated, becomes less profitable, and finds an equilibrium. Unfortunatley, most people don't have what it takes to flood the engineering market. I started college on an "engineering floor" in the dorms. By the time I moved on to sophomore year, of the 15 people I spoke to on the floor, only myself and one other student hadn't dropped out.


I don't actually think this is tangential at all. It's proof that it is difficult to the point that would-be liberal arts majors don't try to switch to engineering and compete despite an enormous financial incentive and no real barrier to entry (not compared to professional school).

Most people just can't do it. And with the exception of the obvious brain mutants who get A's in math/physics/engineering with little or no effort, that's because it's difficult.

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby BioEBear2010 » Sat Jan 16, 2010 1:14 pm

ScaredWorkedBored wrote:I don't actually think this is tangential at all. It's proof that it is difficult to the point that would-be liberal arts majors don't try to switch to engineering and compete despite an enormous financial incentive and no real barrier to entry (not compared to professional school).


How about people who possess the talent, but just don't want to be engineers...? Many of my most brilliant bioE friends are going to med school or law school simply because they feel that they will enjoy being a doctor/lawyer more than being a research engineer.

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby ScaredWorkedBored » Sat Jan 16, 2010 1:26 pm

BioEBear2010 wrote:
ScaredWorkedBored wrote:I don't actually think this is tangential at all. It's proof that it is difficult to the point that would-be liberal arts majors don't try to switch to engineering and compete despite an enormous financial incentive and no real barrier to entry (not compared to professional school).


How about people who possess the talent, but just don't want to be engineers...? Many of my most brilliant bioE friends are going to med school or law school simply because they feel that they will enjoy being a doctor/lawyer more than being a research engineer.


And the perceived lavish incomes of doctors and lawyers relative to most engineers have nothing to do with this certainty, I'm sure...

For baseline income - average engineering college grad versus average anything else college grad - there's no contest. Most people who can earn $10,000-$20,000 more starting salary will do that.
Last edited by ScaredWorkedBored on Sat Jan 16, 2010 1:27 pm, 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 » Sat Jan 16, 2010 1:27 pm

ScaredWorkedBored wrote:
BioEBear2010 wrote:
ScaredWorkedBored wrote:I don't actually think this is tangential at all. It's proof that it is difficult to the point that would-be liberal arts majors don't try to switch to engineering and compete despite an enormous financial incentive and no real barrier to entry (not compared to professional school).


How about people who possess the talent, but just don't want to be engineers...? Many of my most brilliant bioE friends are going to med school or law school simply because they feel that they will enjoy being a doctor/lawyer more than being a research engineer.


And the perceived lavish incomes of doctors and lawyers relative to most engineers have nothing to do with this certainty, I'm sure...

For baseline income - average engineering college grad versus average anything else college grad - there's no contest.


Also, social prestige.

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby tesoro » Sat Jan 16, 2010 2:14 pm

shadowfrost000 wrote:
ScaredWorkedBored wrote:
BioEBear2010 wrote:
ScaredWorkedBored wrote:I don't actually think this is tangential at all. It's proof that it is difficult to the point that would-be liberal arts majors don't try to switch to engineering and compete despite an enormous financial incentive and no real barrier to entry (not compared to professional school).


How about people who possess the talent, but just don't want to be engineers...? Many of my most brilliant bioE friends are going to med school or law school simply because they feel that they will enjoy being a doctor/lawyer more than being a research engineer.


And the perceived lavish incomes of doctors and lawyers relative to most engineers have nothing to do with this certainty, I'm sure...

For baseline income - average engineering college grad versus average anything else college grad - there's no contest.


Also, social prestige.


Yep. I'm an EE pursuing a law degree to double my income and remove the income ceiling i currently face. That's why your BME friends are going to medical school as well. EE + 6 years of relevant experience in the patents world + JD = $$$. This is totally irrelevant to the discussion of difficulty of UG majors, though.

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Re: How much do "hard" majors help?

Postby prezidentv8 » Sat Jan 16, 2010 2:37 pm

ScaredWorkedBored wrote:
This is on a tangential line, but just to stir the pot: To argue that a degree in anything including political science, history, philosophy, anthropology and the like was as hard as this is completely ignorant. The world of employment realizes this (average STARTING salary for a fresh graduate in EE: $55,000. average salary of an average american: ~$40,000). If anyone could do it, EVERYONE would do it because the job security of the degree is unmatched. Anyone who's taken a simple economics class knows that if a profession is profitable, it quickly becomes oversaturated, becomes less profitable, and finds an equilibrium. Unfortunatley, most people don't have what it takes to flood the engineering market. I started college on an "engineering floor" in the dorms. By the time I moved on to sophomore year, of the 15 people I spoke to on the floor, only myself and one other student hadn't dropped out.


I don't actually think this is tangential at all. It's proof that it is difficult to the point that would-be liberal arts majors don't try to switch to engineering and compete despite an enormous financial incentive and no real barrier to entry (not compared to professional school).

Most people just can't do it. And with the exception of the obvious brain mutants who get A's in math/physics/engineering with little or no effort, that's because it's difficult.


Well, this isn't to say that what you're saying has no merit, but I think your economics are off because you're ignoring other costs. Namely that you actually have to deal with really boring material in order to get a really boring job in the end (and a job with sketchy growth prospects at that). So your measure of "profitable" for the engineering degree is kinda squishy. Sure a lot of people simply can't do engineering (or whatever), but to argue that you're extra special for doing so is kinda clown shoes.

Now granting that something like engineering IS harder and generally more work, I personally would rather study law, business, economics, public policy, or whatever. It's more fun. And leads to a (subjectively) more awesome career. Others might go for psych, accounting, teaching....hell, even sociology. Maybe some stink at math and it's keeping them out of engineering, sure, but maybe some actually want to be social workers, teachers, accountants, counselors. Most people simply don't share an engineer's enthusiasm for bridge-building (or whatever).

So, basically, arguing over the relative difficulty of majors isn't really the point. I swear...it's like a big academic pissing contest in this thread...




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