College majors, career paths, and salaries

by July

Students’ career paths after college are often surprising and difficult to predict given students’ majors. Not only do students from the same major transition into a surprising variety of occupations, they also earn very different incomes: to take one example, the 3.4 percent of English majors who become managers earn a median salary of $77,000, while the 8.3 percent of their counterparts who become elementary and middle school teachers earn $51,000. Different career paths and the associated earnings differences for students with the same college major are pervasive and important for understanding both the benefits of college majors and of college itself.

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, we have calculated annual median earnings for men and women of various ages who have graduated with a particular major and entered a given occupation. For each group of college graduates, we show the most common types of jobs, as well as the fractions of graduates who are unemployed, out of the labor force, and employed full- or part-time. In addition, among each group of workers with a particular major, we show the range of annual earnings and the percent who obtained education beyond a bachelor’s degree for the most common types of jobs. This interactive is intended to be a resource for those who seek a better understanding of how their college major can be used, as well as those interested in how college specialization and the labor market interact.

You can play with the interactive charts at The Hamilton Project.  Unfortunately these charts don’t take into account one of our favorite topics, college selectivity.

Advertisements

117 thoughts on “College majors, career paths, and salaries

  1. Wow, I could waste a lot of time on this! Who would have thought that so many microbiology majors would become dentists? I also like the fact that my major (English) gives you about the same likelihood of being CEO as working a customer service hotline. :-)

    I do think selectivity plays in a little bit in the characterization of the different kinds of majors, as HSS are more likely to offer the broader degrees vs. the more narrow — e.g., many schools might offer a EE degree, but the HSS are not necessarily as likely to offer an “Electrical Engineering and Technology” degree, or an “Electrical and Mechanical Repairs and Technologies” degree. Or my school offered an “English” degree but not a “Communications” degree.

    I wonder if this is a version of signaling. E.g., HSS (especially those of the LA variety) focus on broad degrees, on the assumption that (i) the degree itself signals “smart”; (ii) many of their kids will go on to graduate school to further specialize, and/or (iii) “applied” degrees are gauche. OTOH, the lower-ranked schools want to provide their students with degrees that signal that they have directly-applicable skills that qualify them for a specific job right now, because that’s what their students are looking for. The latter approach can, of course, work out very well if you end up in a hot field at the right time (e.g., the fantastic figures for Geological Engineering vs. Geology, given the explosion in petrochemical production/fracking over the past couple of decades), but it also risks pigeonholing you into something that isn’t as remunerative if you choose the wrong slice.

  2. “Different career paths and the associated earnings differences for students with the same college major are pervasive and important for understanding both the benefits of college majors and of college itself.”

    This!

    Add to this that jobs that exist today may not exist or not in the way they do now when you get out of college or by the time you are mid career. If you can’t shift with the job market, you will be left behind.

    I was trying to explain to an acquaintance about why her mid career degree was not resulting in an increase in pay to the average salary when looking at total salary data per major. While the degree is allowing her to get her foot in more doors with a slight higher hourly wage, her specific career path is not at the high end for that major.

  3. This house in Newtown is comparable to our house in Texas in terms of square feet, look (excluding the hill issue that seems to give them 3 floors for part of the house), and price. Our appraisal for tax purposes is a bit less, but that is ususally lower than what people list at.

    However, I would say that the salaries of those living in my neighborhood are lower than in Newtown.

    https://www.zillow.com/homes/for_sale/Newtown-CT/pmf,pf_pt/house_type/57335536_zpid/397566_rid/4-_beds/2000-2200_size/globalrelevanceex_sort/41.487877,-73.163624,41.299347,-73.458882_rect/11_zm/

  4. I love that Terrace Moutain Dr house. The people k know who live in $3m+ houses have family money, sold a business for a lot of $ or were employee #6 at a startup that took off.

  5. Oh my god, the employment categories are HORRENDOUS! I typed in computer science, of course, and saw the data in these categories
    1. Computer and Information System Manager
    2. Other Managers (so does Head of Development, a common title, count here or in 1? How about Scrum Master? Chief Architect? or is this the category for the people who went on and got their accounting masters and are now running the finance group?)
    3. Software Developers, Applications and Systems Software (um, lump together applications and systems, and that is pretty much all software so why break it out?)
    4. Computer Scientists, Systems Analysts and Web Develoeprs (OK, this is the one that made me start laughing. Maybe we should rename this : I don’t know wtf you do so I will throw you into this category of COMPLETELY unrelated fields.)
    5. Computer Programmers (um, this is just another way to say “software developer”)
    6. Computer Support Specialists (these are the people who couldn’t pass the software development tech interview so now they are sitting on helpdesk or plugging in PCs)

    Usually “computer scientist” either refers to everyone who got a computer science degree OR it refers to a very high level researcher, often with a PhD, doing work in robotics or machine learning or some such. A systems analyst, depending on the company, may be a person with a business background who reads payroll procedure manuals and translates to the developers who are writing the requirements for the new payroll system, OR it may be a software developer at a company that is so old school it doesn’t know that software developer or software engineer is the correct title. And Web Developer is usually a lowlevel, not well paid position that isn’t considered “real” software development – but it might also cover people who do user experience modeling which is a more high level position, or sometimes, people who write the backend server code for the web systems, also considered more prestigious.

    And where are the categories for peopple who bag it and go into academia or who teach math in a high school? Or go into the hot new trending area of data science and analytics? Where do the quality assurance specialists live, or the people who handle cybersecurity?

  6. @Rhett – this goes back to my theory that a lot of these jobs don’t pay as much as you think that they do. (e.g., can a totebag kid make $400K a year at 30 – highly highly unlikely)

    One thing that I thought was interesting was to look at different majors, narrow down to female and an age range of 35-44, and see what percentage of grads are no longer working or looking for work. only 15% of Accounting majors are not working, but 23% of Chemical Engineering majors are not working. I don’t know that this is really a marker of what is “mom friendly” but I think it is interesting.

  7. @Rhett – Also I suppose I would be classified as “Financial Manager” but that means a whole host of things within a very wide pay range. “Financial Managers” aged 35-44 with general “Business Administration” degrees make a little less than those with “Accounting” degrees and a lot less than those with “Economics” degrees. What to make of that?

  8. @Rhett – this goes back to my theory that a lot of these jobs don’t pay as much as you think that they do

    That’s not my theory. My theory is the totebag world of careers tends to concentrate around ones that are an ideal fit for the risk averse and introverted. As a result of this, totebaggers tend to underweight the earning potential of others careers that require more extroversion and a tolerance for risk.

  9. Clearly Economics is the best major of the three if you’re going to be a “Financial Manager” (says the “Financial Manager” with an Economics degree).

  10. “earning potential of others careers that require more extroversion and a tolerance for risk.”

    This is DS1. Extroverted and risk seeking. He’s always, ever since he was a little kid, been eager and able to sell stuff, volunteer to make phone-a-thon calls to raise money, etc. Some might say sales douche, but he’s the one who can get a job justthatquick when he’s motivated.

  11. Like Birdie mentioned I know some folks who do quite well in the startup arena. Not so much in terms of equity (yet) but in terms of career progression. It’s a lot easier to move up in a 30 person startup than a 130,000 person conglomerate.

    Houston mentioned how risky it can be but given the potential payoff it would make sense to me for a totebag parent to offer to act as a financial backstop. Say your kid mentioned that they have a solid offer from GE and a lower paying offer with a lot more upside from Acme Startup Inc. I would totally be on board with a $10k check for Christmas and if worse came to worse covering a few mortgage payments etc. while they get back on their feet if it goes bust.

  12. “Clearly Economics is the best major of the three if you’re going to be a “Financial Manager” (says the “Financial Manager” with an Economics degree).”

    Me too – that’s part of the reason I thought it was interesting. I went back and looked at Finance as a major, and it is in line with Accounting. Is it because Economics is more math-heavy? Because Economics is something you might be more likely to major in at a more selective school vs. Accounting or Finance? I don’t know. My college was only moderately selective (avg ACT was 27 or 28).

  13. ““Financial Managers” aged 35-44 with general “Business Administration” degrees make a little less than those with “Accounting” degrees and a lot less than those with “Economics” degrees. What to make of that?”

    My theory: The averages for “Economics” degrees are weighted upwards by the HSS that offer an Economics major but not a “business-ey” major. Accounting tends to be what smart, pragmatic people with a business-ey bent major in at any school; the math requirements mean that such grads can range from awesome to decent. Business Administration degrees are relatively fluffy and a dime a dozen from generic schools (e.g., where former accounting majors go if they can’t do the math), so while you likely have many very smart, driven Business Administration majors, the easier path means that those who aren’t so smart and driven bring down the overall average.

  14. You are probably right (Because Economics is something you might be more likely to major in at a more selective school). My college (close #2 flagship, right, Rocky?) only offered Econ as the closest to business/accounting undergrad.

  15. OK, here is another oddity. According to their statistics, there are NO computer engineering majors actually working in computer engineering??? They claim that 30% go into software development, 8.6% become Computer Scientists, Systems Analysts and Web Developers (the “I don’t know what you are” category), 6.3% become computer programmers, aka software developers, 5.1% become Other Managers, 4.5% become Computer and Information Systems Managers, and 3.7% become Other Engineers. Is that the category for Computer Engineer? If so, I cannot believe that only 3.7% actually go into the field.

  16. I agree with the theory that economics majors are more likely than business/accounting majors to have graduated from HSSs.

    The federal government’s job title of “computer engineer” may be so limited that it doesn’t show up as commonly as might be expected in this data. Offhand I don’t know what job definitions they’re using but BLS may be the source.

  17. “Those are interesting numbers but they all seem so low. .Financial analysts and CEO’s making $160k?”

    I figure regional variations as well as other factors, such as size of employer and scope of responsibilities, cause this. Another factor could be lumping in together those workers with and without graduate degrees. But also, $160k is still comfortably within the top 5%ile.

  18. But also, $160k is still comfortably within the top 5%ile.

    With two incomes. $214k is the entry point to the top 5%.

    Also keep in mind only about 1/3 of the 25-34 year old population has a 4 year degree. There is a certain totebag way of looking at things that says a communications major from Directional State U is the bottom. Bottom? You’re barely out of the top 1/3 in terms of educational attainment!

  19. Haha! I am exactly at where the average person is with my major and occupation (and my occupation is the most common from my major). That means I am definitely underachieving. :(

    Re: the HSS, everyone above is correct. Neither “business” nor “communications” nor “accounting” were offered as majors at my HSS. The closest we got to a gut major was “government”, followed by “economics” (but the latter could also be very rigorous if you chose).

  20. For those who are not seeking “vocational” degrees, the actual major may not be nearly as important as many people think it is. It would be interesting to look at a group of students with similar characteristics — test scores, soft skills, grades, university rank — but with different majors, and compare their mid-career earnings.

  21. Rhett – The house on Timberline is owned by an LLC, so who knows. The house on Terrace Mountain is owned by a man from Austraila (MBA) built a career in banking, then PMD from Harvard Business School and is the head of a financial firm here in Austin. Almost anything in the 78746 zip code is expensive – especially in Rollingwood and Westlake Hills – with either old money or the wealthy. The exception is the property that has stayed in a family long term, they may be land rich, but cash poor.

  22. You are probably right (Because Economics is something you might be more likely to major in at a more selective school). My college (close #2 flagship, right, Rocky?) only offered Econ as the closest to business/accounting undergrad.

    Yeah, it was definitely like that back in the day, anyway. My sister couldn’t come straight out of Stanford and teach; she had to get a Masters at SF State to qualify to be an actual teacher. Stanford was too lofty to directly prepare teachers in any way except by providing them with an exceptional liberal arts education. I honestly don’t remember if Berkeley had an undergrad biz degree; they certainly had an MBA program, but so did UCLA, didn’t they?

  23. The Cal State campuses had more practical majors, as I recall. I know Chico had a “construction management” major, which you would probably not find at a UC. I think those guys did pretty damn well. They hated my philosophy classes though. Oh well.

  24. Scarlett, I think you are right about the nonvocational majors, but I recall reading a while back that nonvocational majors are really the minority these days. Most students are choosing the vocational majors

  25. The older mechanical engineering majors are “Chief Executives and Legislators”? How many ME legislators are there, I wonder?

  26. Rhett, where I’ve lived, people living in expensive homes didn’t typically achieve their own economic status. You are the exception rather than the rule at having achieved a remunerative position without family support thru college, a backstop in your 20’s, etc. People living in expensive homes and sending the kids to private school are medical specialists, successful small business owners, and farmers/ranchers with family wealth. The wealth numbers may be very different in large cities, but the percentage of people who can live in expensive homes and send the kids to private school is still small.

    Only ~1 in 100 people who joins a startup will “make it big”. Most startups fail and of those that succeed, only a few people “make it big”. You are correct that many/most of the people who take that risk either have a family backstop or are young and single without family responsibilities. On a statistical basis, you may be right that it makes economic sense to try to be that 1 in 100 (you could make it 1 in 25 with drive and good choices) but for people without a family backstop, the 99 in 100 chance of NOT making it big isn’t worth it. The 1 in 5 or 1 in 10 chance of a $~100k one-time payoff from the startup is a middle ground I don’t know how to weigh.

  27. Talking of startups or young companies – one offered DH a job and the chance to be rising star instead of a number on the ladder.
    He took the job, did well, got options. But then we decided to move. He cashed in his options and that chunk of cash helped pay down our mortgage. The company crashed in the financial crisis – we got out just in time at possibly the highest value.
    So, while not millions, it can still be significant and there is an element of luck even for more modest payoffs.
    About the houses that Rhett mentions, I don’t know if everyone in them is doing that great or are people like Meme’s friend who had a lot of financial obligations, with the risk of getting aged out of one high paying job.

  28. Rhett – there are (seemingly) a lot of mid-career investment guys who might have that house in Newton, making maybe $400-$800K. It’s also probably their second house after they outgrew the 2- or 3-bedroom in Brookline/Back Bay/Somerville.

  29. I remember back in the late 80s/early 90s one of my friends being really irked at her boyfriend because the start up he was working at folded. And it was the fourth small company that he worked for that had gone bankrupt in the previous two years. Eventually, they broke up, she continued worked for the established tech company, which didn’t survive the 2000s. He eventually worked for a company that went public.

    If any of my kids wanted to go to Silicon Valley and try their hand after college, I would support that. I’ve noticed that established companies work their employees and then toss them if business conditions warrant or their skills atrophy. It seems that to be very successful, you need to work hard and smart. It is hard to understand how to do that when you don’t have a piece of the action.

  30. Only ~1 in 100 people who joins a startup will “make it big”.

    It depends on how you define “make it big.” If you mean a +7 figure equity event then you are correct. If you mean make it big in terms of a much more rapid career progression than I think it’s quite likely.

  31. It’s also probably their second house after they outgrew the 2- or 3-bedroom in Brookline/Back Bay/Somerville.

    Given how many parking spaces are free during the weekend there is also a house in Chatham or Nantucket in the mix .

  32. Fred, at my version of the UC system, Econ was for the people who didn’t want to do the math and statistics that Ag Econ required.

  33. “Only ~1 in 100 people who joins a startup will “make it big”. Most startups fail and of those that succeed, only a few people “make it big”.

    I agree! Rhett, you are right that working for a start up gives you a lot of good job experience.

    WCE, the $100K+ return from a start up is also really rare.

    It’s like playing the lottery, but with more risk. When you hit it big though, it is wonderful. You also get the chance to do something truly neat.

  34. I’ve noticed that established companies work their employees and then toss them if business conditions warrant or their skills atrophy.

    Agreed. In my world your career progression and employability is based almost entirely on what I’d call resume key words. These amount various certifications, project types, etc. The bigger the place you work the slower you accumulate those key words. If you’re in a position to go with the more dynamic and risky smaller companies you can move ahead a lot faster than if you’re pigeon holed in some tiny technological niche at a conglomerate.

  35. Do startups still give people equity ? Or do they restrict it so much that there are very few employees who stand to gain a lot while the rest – even if early hires are just employees?

  36. I ask because BIL worked for a start up and the main guy was secretive and was making do with contractors for the most part.

  37. Do startups still give people equity?

    Anecdotally they still do. It serves to motivate the employees and it slows your burn rate because you can pay them less in salary and more in equity. That said there has been some recent examples of companies playing dirty and firing people just before their options vest so they don’t dilute existing shareholders. As with anything, you need to be smart about it and take any promises with a grain of salt.

  38. The construction management majors I know are concrete thinkers

    Ba-dum-bump-CHING! Seriously, that could be a t-shirt slogan — “Construction Managers Are Concrete Thinkers!”

  39. “The construction management majors I know are concrete thinkers, not philosophers”

    This made me smile.

  40. Dh is killing it according to this chart.:) He was an environmental science major who thought he wanted to be an environmental lawyer. Ended up in corporate law doing nothing close to environmental law (he did work as an environmental lawyer for a few years but at a law firm so not exactly what he thought he’d do when he was an idealistic college graduate). I was an English major I went to a SLAC and they love to tout how with a liberal arts degree they are preparing you to be a thinker and not just prepare you for a specific career.

    I know quite a few people (mostly men with SAH wives) who are making the $500K+ each year and they seem to be in private equity, real estate, law, or consulting.

  41. Atlanta Mom, to what extent are the $500k+ people achieving that based off their education vs. work ethic vs. background/social class? Is there a threshold level for each of those, i.e. must have SLAC education + work 50 hr/week + have grown up UMC?

  42. WCE – every single one that I can think of off the top of my head has family money and most went to highly selective schools. One guy DH used to work with went to McKinsey after deciding the law wasn’t for him and then leveraged that to a job at a client. His grandmother also put $250K (or whatever the limit is) in each of his children’s 529s and he had also mentioned in the past that she had given him a building in his hometown. A lot of others seem to have parents who have multiple vacation homes (beach and mountains) because no one is around here in the summer.

  43. Any tool such as this has to aggregate so much data that it starts to become meaningless at a granular level, which is how we are all trying to interpret it.

    My dismissal aside, I did the same as Ivy with a few majors with the same thought that females would be more likely to fall into the “not working and not looking for work” category.

    17 yo DS is interested in pursuing a health-related major such as PA or nursing. He has been given advice from many currently in the field that he should strongly consider nursing, with the common refrain that “male nurses make more, esp with advanced degrees such as APRN.” As a female it irks me that men make more tho I know my outrage may be irrational because “make more” does not control for higher paying choices within the field. As the mother of a son, I am glad that he is considering it. I’m finding it hard to reconcile those two feelings.

  44. Swim, my cousin’s DH heads the ICU because he wants to and enjoys spending his “time off work” to figure out how to run new medical equipment and teach others- he’s a techie at heart. His female colleagues don’t want that extra/officially unpaid responsibility. Similarly, male nurse anesthetists are common because they are more willing to accept jobs where they work nonstandard hours or get called in on short notice, again for family reasons.

    Not sure if these anecdotes make you feel better, but it’s the same reason Mr WCE makes more as an engineer than I do. I’m a contractor who is passionate about meeting the bus. He travels to Europe at the company’s convenience on short notice.

  45. Louise: Early hires get lots of equity, as they took more risk. Latecomers still get equity, but much less and at a higher price.

  46. Houston – DS and I have ongoing discussions about start ups, how much people can expect to make etc in various fields. Then we get sidetracked or maybe right on track as the discussion moves to Lamborghinis :-).

  47. I think I know a pretty narrow group of people, but the $500k+ earners I know are either (1) lawyers – went to all kinds of undergrad schools and first tier law schools, (2) doctors who are specialists – went to all kinds of schools and did residencies/fellowships at good programs and (3) finance people who almost exclusively went to Ivies.

    This is pretty much a separate group from the people I know who are living in the $3m houses because of family money, start-up equity or selling a business.

  48. Louise: One of my b-school friends is consulting for Formula 1. Now *that* is a cool job!!

  49. I would also love working in one of the business operations of an NFL team…

  50. Anon for this
    A friend works for Major League Baseball. He always gets great tickets.

  51. The $500k people I know are mainly finance/consulting types, and very few if any came from money. Most but not all have HSS degrees, and all are smart and hard working. I think very few live in homes worth much more than $i million.

  52. Someone I know had the Yankees as a client, and he says George Steinbrenner was exactly as he was portrayed on Seinfeld.

  53. A lawyer at our firm ended up going in-house with an NFL team. Insane jealousy here. ;-)

  54. – every single one that I can think of off the top of my head has family money … His grandmother also put $250K (or whatever the limit is) in each of his children’s 529s and he had also mentioned in the past that she had given him a building in his hometown. A lot of others seem to have parents who have multiple vacation homes (beach and mountains) because no one is around here in the summer.

    I recall reading a book….maybe it was Rich Dad Poor Dad? Anyway, it talked about career earning and if you want to make good money it helps if your contribution to the bottom line can be easily quantified. So, in things like sales, finance, RE, PE, consulting, law etc. you can earn you a lot of money because your performance comes down to pure dollars and cents. The downside is that if you do poorly or your product, cases, project do poorly then it’s obvious as well. I wonder if that family money makes these guys do better at their jobs because they don’t feel as stressed as other might in a similar position?

  55. Scarlett – did the MLB approach him about the position, or did he find it on a job listing site/listserv?

    I ask because how people get their jobs, to me, is just as fascinating as what they do in their jobs.

  56. “I wonder if that family money makes these guys do better at their jobs because they don’t feel as stressed as other might in a similar position?”

    Rhett – I think that is part of it. When this guy jumped to McKinsey he could take the $25K pay cut for the potential of a much bigger upside. I’m sure it’s the same way if you’ve saved a ton of money yourself. You just have that flexibility to take bigger career risks.

  57. OTOH, the lack of family money has motivated other people to work harder and smarter precisely because they don’t have the backstop. Some people cave under that kind of pressure, of course, but the flip side is that people without family money, or who aren’t encumbered by the shadow of a highly successful parent, often feel freer to follow their instincts because they also have less to lose.

  58. “4814 Timberline Dr, Austin, TX 78746”

    A 6 BR, 6.5Ba house with a 2-car garage???

  59. OTOH, the lack of family money has motivated other people to work harder and smarter precisely because they don’t have the backstop

    Very true, it can go either way.

    You just have that flexibility to take bigger career risks.

    I was reading Faster Higher Farther and it talked about how Ferdinand Piëch rocketed to the top of VW because, as a Porsche hei,r he wasn’t constrained by a more typical executives financial concerns. Reading between the lines, one can also imagine that the cockiness that comes with being rich could also help in a totally male dominated industry.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/volkswagen-emissions-scandal-faster-higher-farther-author-jack-ewing/

  60. “One of the partners at my old firm left to become the MLB Commissioner..”

    So it wasn’t the current commissioner, who was working for MLB just prior to becoming commissioner.

    I think there’s been only one commissioner who left a law firm to become commissioner. Most recent commissioners were already working for or in MLB just prior to becoming commissioner.

  61. Good comment on Mooshi’s article, reflecting what I was getting at in my “threshold” question to Atlanta Mom.

    “College used to be something for the upper crust of society, who didn’t really have to worry about making ends meet. Being a history major didn’t really cost you anything back when any college degree was a rarity and anyone who had been to college had a network likely to practically guarantee a decent living. The few working-class kids who got let in on sympathy scholarships were so few and far between that they could mostly do fine with the prestige of the degree and as charitable causes for the rich around them to feel good about themselves by offering a job to.

    As we expanded the college population to now be essentially “every single high school graduate in America who isn’t a complete failure” we have run into some issues about what college should be. Pursuing a history degree as the son of a rich businessman who can always give you a first job in the family firm is a very different proposition to pursuing that degree as a first-generation college-goer whose family has no resources, either financial or reputational. There is reason that the professions (law, medicine, accounting, engineering) have traditionally been the gateway to the upper middle class for people without familial connections.

    Unfortunately, major guidance programs at colleges are typically non-existent, and when they do exist, they rarely take into account such un-PC considerations as I mentioned above. So kids end up getting pretty bad advice, and you end up with a ton of social studies majors who are the first member of their family to go to college who get the degree but end up back at the familiar starbucks job because the degree didn’t really change their basic life situation and they lack the familial or social connections to get a leg up.”

  62. “WCE, the $100K+ return from a start up is also really rare.”

    Perhaps that type of return as a direct payout when the startup is sold or goes public is rare.
    I’ve known a number of people who worked at startups, mostly single guys or married people financially backstopped by a spouse with a more secure job. For the most part, they were well paid while working for the startups, and as Rhett mentioned, they developed good resumes that helped them get well paid in subsequent jobs.

    So I don’t think it’s really rare for people who worked for startups to accumulate $100k+ financial return relative to having worked for more established companies during the same time.

  63. ““College used to be something for the upper crust of society, who didn’t really have to worry about making ends meet. “

    When was this?

    It seems to me that historically, WWII was one of the events that opened up college to a lot of people, albeit mostly men, via the GI Bill.

    This suggests that the time in question was sometime before WWII, or before the end of WWII.

    It’s also quite a bit different than what I’ve heard about college from my mom, most of whose dorm-mates, like her, came from modest means and had to live very parsimoniously through college.

  64. The Atlantic article doesn’t say what happens to the many graduates with degrees that are neither traditional liberal arts (history, English, art, music, philosophy, French, political science, economics) nor STEM. There is a vast chasm in between, filled with Hospitality Management, Parks and Recreation, Gender Studies, etc. A young family member graduated from a directional school with a degree in Emergency Management, which one would think is an ultimate “vocational” degree, yet she worked for nearly two years as a nanny and elder caregiver before finding a job in her field. Not sure how she would be counted in the Atlantic data.

  65. If you are going to major in something like hospitality management or emergency management, make sure your department has good ties to employers. That can sometimes be a problem with smaller more regional schools. Usually, though the emergency management major has a lot of ties with law enforcement type degrees.

  66. I went to college with a guy whose dad owned a large car dealership in an area of the state that was borderline rural/suburban. He knew he was going home to run the dealership. It was clear he faced a lot less pressure in terms of getting the grades, resume building activities, and job hunting that the rest of us were feeling. He also took electives just because they were interesting and not because they helped concentrate your area of study (which was the typical way they were used at my school).

    On the flip side, I had several first generation college students in my summer classes. They were very focused on what job their major would get them and how it would get them a leg up over the life they had growing up. When it came up about do you enjoy this major, her response was it doesn’t matter as long as it pays well enough for me to have electricity, running water, hot water, and food in the pantry ALL THE TIME.

  67. Finn, notwithstanding the GI Bill, the percentage of the male population with a college degree was well under 20% until nearly 1980. Women didn’t hit 20% until 1995. Your mom was in an elite group.

    This graph shows a steady increase beginning in 1940, but even today, it’s still true that MOST people of any age do not have a college degree. We live in a bubble.

    https://www.statista.com/statistics/184272/educational-attainment-of-college-diploma-or-higher-by-gender/

  68. MM – Exactly how do you figure out if your department has those ties? I agree its important, but how do you figure that out before choosing a school?

  69. “traditional liberal arts (history, English, art, music, philosophy, French, political science, economics)”

    It seems that a lot of political science majors look at that as vocational training.

    “There is a vast chasm in between, filled with Hospitality Management, Parks and Recreation, Gender Studies, etc. “

    In particular, the majors ending with, “Studies,” are often referenced in discussions about majors not preparing kids for jobs.

  70. AustinMom, it is really hard. The college tour people will baldly lie so do not listen to them. I think if a kid is going into a field as specialized as emergency management, he or she should get out there and meet with some people actually in the field. Do some informational interviews, and find out which schools people in the field graduated from, and what their opinion is. You can also hunt around LinkedIn to see which schools people in particular positions graduated from. But really, talking to people in the field is best

  71. “Your mom was in an elite group.”

    Perhaps, but she was not part of the “upper crust of society.”

    I think better data (if it exists) to look for an inflection point of when college ceased being “something for the upper crust of society” might be trends of college student populations based on HHI or family history of college.

    I used my mom as anecdata to question whether that was the case when she attended college, along with many other women from similar SES who became the bulk of the teaching cadre for my generation.

  72. Austin, one place to look is the college placement office. Look at their bulletin boards and see what companies are conducting interviews and recruiting there.

  73. As I wrote upthread, most of the $500k people I know were not trust fund types. But I think many of them did have working spouses (wives, really) who acted as a backstop of sorts as they advanced in their careers. I would say they are mostly strategic risk takers, willing to make career moves that place them in roles with more opportunity but also more risk. They are motivated by money but they do enjoy their jobs as much as the next person.

    Anthony Scaramucci grew with a construction worker father and housewife mother on Long Island. His father was advised by one of his buddies to send his sons to a more prestigious college like Tufts instead of a local one like Adelphi. The sons wanted to find out more about Tufts and asked dad how to spell it. “T-o-u-g-h-s” is what dad said. At least that’s the story according to this video, and I’m willing to believe it was true. From Tufts he went to Harvard because according to Scaramucci he wanted to make more money. This is all in the first two minutes of the video.

  74. Finn, it is all computerized now, and you have to have a login id to get to the career service interview announcments. Plus, a lot of placements happen informally – emails recruiting for positions come directly to faculty members who then send them around to interested students

  75. July, see my posts about him on the politics thread. One might think his language comes from his construction worker background, but I think it is the hedge fund in him. Traders use really bad language.

  76. A good academic department will have information on its website regarding placement of its graduates. If that information is missing or unimpressive, it could be laziness in updating the website, OR a reluctance to seek out and publicize data that doesn’t put the department in a good light. An email to a professor in that department may shed more light on the picture.

    In the case of my young family member, she chose a directional school a few hours away, in another state, that placed most of its graduates locally. She wanted to return to her hometown and would not consider employers in other locations. Not a smart move, especially for a kid with loans (made necessary in part because she chose a directional commuter school with limited financial aid funds for out of state residents). There are a lot of ways that she could have made more strategic decisions.

  77. Scarlett said “A good academic department will have information on its website regarding placement of its graduates. ”

    Usually that consists of a listing of company names, without any mention as to what kinds of positions, how many students, how long ago was this, etc, etc. Schools are really good at puffing this up.
    Also, one other big problem – many departments have NO IDEA how their students get placed. Neither does career services. Why? Because there is no way to find out except to survey grads – and the response rate is really bad – maybe 15% of the grads will respond. This is a huge problem everywhere. We faculty often know where a handful of our BEST students went – but no one knows where the C students ended up.

  78. @Finn — yeah. I am definitely sad — I’ve liked his story since he got here, and he’s been a really good ambassador with the local kids. But I can’t blame him — you have those kinds of brains, you don’t want to mess it up with all the concussion risk.

  79. We are big football fans, but how does anyone justify the sport with this new data?

  80. I am glad that our kids didn’t have the body type to play football, so we were never in the position of having to tell them that they couldn’t play. The fifth grade son of a friend LOVES football and already looks like a linebacker. He is not very good at soccer or baseball, which his physician mom would prefer he played. She is ok with him playing football now, but at some point she is going to forbid him to play the sport he loves and for which he has a natural gift, and he will be very sad. (If she sends him to the local private school that lacks a football team, that will solve the problem.)

  81. quick hijack – need advice:
    I think I am going to have to replace my much loved Nexus 9 tablet – I think the port where the charger connects is broken – it gets really hot and smells like it is burning when I plug it in. I want something asap since we are heading to France. While I would really like something comparable, all of the options are expensive. I am thinking of getting a Fire 8 as a cheapie for now. But I read that it doesn’t work with Google apps like gmail. Is that true? All of my magazine subscriptions are on Google Newstand, so would I not be able to access them? That is a deal breaker. Anyone with a Fire, can you tell me if I would be completely trapped in the Amazon ecosystem?

  82. We bought a kids fire and I hate it. The kid does not use it. It’s so hard to connect to wifi on it at restaurants. Maybe we just got a lemon. Dunno.

    I would go with iPad. If not, then Samsung, assuming you don’t need it for productivity.

  83. iPad is out of the question. I detest iTunes beyond belief. Aside from my despised Nano, everything else in my life is in the Google ecosystem and I want to stay there

  84. “A good academic department will have information on its website regarding placement of its graduates. ”

    We spoke the other day about how naive kids are. One symptom of that is kids might not be fully aware that everyone lies and the scrupulously honest make the best liars because they don’t even think they are lying. But the fact remains that when it’s in someone’s best interest to spin the truth, that’s what they do. So if someone tells you something; a broker, a boss, a professor, a car salesman you need to keep in mind that they have their own agenda.

  85. Do you think that academic departments will post outright lies on their websites? Such as: “Within six months of graduation, more than 80% of our graduates have secured full-time employment, with an average starting salary of $45K” when the truth is that most of the graduates are living in their parents’ basements and working as baristas?

    What seems more likely is statements like this: “Within six months of graduation, more than 80% of our graduates are employed, engaged in service work, or pursuing further education”

    That looks good, and may even be true, but is pretty useless.

  86. Do you think that academic departments will post outright lies on their websites?

    Outright lies? Certainly not. Carefully crafted spin that amounts to the same thing? Certainly.

  87. And we’re talking about what they write down. What a professors, who’s 2/2 workload is based on a steady supply of grad students, says in person is another thing entirely.

  88. “Outright lies? Certainly not. Carefully crafted spin that amounts to the same thing? Certainly.”

    Right. If they post outright lies, that’s illegal. The government has been cracking down on those kind of claims from the for-profit colleges, for instance. Or at least they were under the prior administration. If it qualifies as advertising, then it is the FTC that pursues false claims.

    Case in point:
    https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2016/12/devry-university-agrees-100-million-settlement-ftc

  89. DS had an English professor last semester who told the class, “If you’re thinking about getting a PhD in English, don’t.” He then went on to explain the numbers game and how there simply are not enough tenure-track positions to absorb all of the PhDs each year.

  90. Scarlett – my friend from the home country is here and is contemplating a PhD in Latin American studies. She has family money so getting a job is not part of the equation. She is looking for a suitable program in a warm weather city preferably. I think of the Totebag when we discuss where she wants to do her PhD.

  91. Definitely spin. And keep in mind, as I said, most colleges have very poor data on undergraduate job placement because there is no good way to find out.

  92. OK, so here is the job placement statistics as posted by SUNY Albany’s business school (I couldn’t find anything for engineering). Note the list of companies without any breakdown as to type of position. Note the lack of placement percentages. And I guarantee you that this data is based on surveys, which means it is highly suspect.
    http://www.albany.edu/business/27688.php

    This is very typical

  93. My career services office (run by an early retiree alum) required you to report on your offer and job accepted in order to use the services of the office, which coordinated the interviews for all on-campus recruiting. I’m surprised that isn’t more common. My university knew where ~90% of graduates went, with most of the remaining 10% returning to their home country.

  94. Google and Amazon typically don’t play well together. I’m not sure why exactly; it’s political rather than technical. But it’s true anyway.

  95. WCE – career services offices try not to put any barriers to their use these days. Plus, I wonder how that would be enforced – once you have the job offer, you don’t need them any more!

  96. required you to report on your offer and job accepted in order to use the services of the office

    I wonder how that would be enforced I wonder that as well.

  97. MM, we have multiple Fires and they work just fine with Gmail, whether you’re using the built-in email app or just reading your mail in the browser. I also can read my work mail (Outlook) just fine in the browser. It’s not like Amazon has its own email so they have no dog in that particular fight.

    Sideloading regular Android apps, like everything you have via Google Play, is a mixed bag. The Fire OS is different enough from regular Android that the Google version of apps may or may not work with it. But, they’ll let you try — there’s a setting you can tweak to basically say ‘yes I want to load non-Amazon apps and I know I’m taking my chances.’ My son does this. I just stick with the Amazon version, which is usually fine.

    I haven’t tried playing Google music or movies since we buy that stuff on Amazon, but if that’s something you’d want to do, I’d suggest googling how to do it to see if it’s possible.

    On the whole, Fires work most readily and simply with Amazon apps, books, and other content, but they’re not set up to prevent you from using other content, they just make you jump through a couple of hoops and maybe do some fiddling to make it work. For a techie like you, I don’t think it’ll be difficult.

  98. Mooshi, I am reminded of Milo’s charging issue which was solved by cleaning the charging port.

    The cheap fire might be worth a shot for $50 and based on HM’s input. Too bad you just missed the sale.

  99. The career services rule was enforced by not letting you sign up for future interviews until you’d filled out the survey on your last one. (offer/no offer/plant trip, etc.) I think most of us just responded to the survey e-mail after the interview, because we didn’t want to lock ourselves out of future opportunities. Technically, you could have accepted an offer and not reported on it without consequence, but reporting on it meant career services quit sending you e-mails to review. All of us benefited from data from previous semesters about the states in which students accepted jobs and their salaries, so that also helped compliance- information about salaries and the states students would be working in was valuable to younger students. This was largely in the pre-internet era where people who wanted to get engineering jobs from Ames, Iowa, pretty much had to go thru career services.

  100. I needed to replace my ipad recently and I just went with a cheap chromebook. I didn’t have time to research tablets, and I figured I could always find another use for it if it didn’t serve my needs. In a few hours, for less than $200, Amazon brought a ASUS chromebook with a 2 year warranty to my doorstep. It’s light, it has decent battery life, it streams, and works with all my google stuff. There are somethings that a tablet might be nicer for, but I am in awe of the miracle of extremely cheap computers.

  101. We have a Chromebook and love it. But it doesn’t meet my most important tablet need. All of my magazine subscriptions and downloaded TV shows are via Google Newstand – I like their interface the best. I want them to download to the device so I can access when I don’t have Internet. I can’t do that on a Chromebook because they don’t have the Newstand app for ChromeOS. I can get to the magazines via the browser but can’t download anything. It is the same issue on the Fire. I paid for those subscriptions so I can’t just convert to Amazon.

  102. She is ok with him playing football now, but at some point she is going to forbid him to play the sport he loves and for which he has a natural gift, and he will be very sad. (If she sends him to the local private school that lacks a football team, that will solve the problem.)

    I don’t know what the rules are there, but in Colorado that wouldn’t solve it. Here, if you go to a school that doesn’t offer a sport (private, charter, home school, even regular public) you are allowed to play for your districted public school or the closest public school that offers it.

  103. Aside from my despised Nano, everything else in my life is in the Google ecosystem and I want to stay there

    Mooshi, why haven’t you moved your music to your phone already and tossed the nano?

Comments are closed.