3/5/17

As a Senior HS student looking ahead not just 5 years from now but 15 years down the road, it scares me. I've been always interested in studying finance/business for my undergrad. Seeing the stagnating finance industry and the increase in automation (or atleast intentions to do so), I am having doubts. Unlike most of you monkeys, I still have a chance to switch up my choices before its late!!

It seems to me that a CS degree will be the most valuable degree down the road. A CS undergrad could easily learn finance or get an MBA, but rarely do you see a Finance undergrad getting a Masters in CS. Moreover, from what I see, if I get a CS degree, I can work at goldman or google. But if I get a Business degree, Goldman's the only option. IMO, the only benefit of attending a target b-school undergrad is that it will propel me into consulting/finance right after undergrad. After that, I feel like the degree itself is useless.

Should I get a undergrad in business/finance at a semi-target/target school if my passion is in business? Or Should I look into the future and realize CS is best option (even though i'm not fan of coding)? How about other degrees like Bachelor's of Science (in physics, biology, psychology), Bachelor's of Arts (Economics, etc.)? Hell, what are you thoughts on Liberal Arts degrees going the future?

Comments (105)

2/15/17

If you don't like coding, you will blow your brains out long before you ever get a job at Google. If you like finance go with that. It's not like all the finance jobs are drying up over night just because some mega banks are automating out positions. There are still plenty of opportunities, and there are still plenty of industry's that have no where near enough money to automate. Goldman is not the only option.

Financial Modeling

2/22/17

This. Computer Science really isn't for everyone. I got terrible grades in my first few programming classes (C's and B-'s) before it "clicked". For people who think in a more "intuitive" way vs an algorithmic way, you kinda have to completely rewire your brain to be a good programmer.

3/4/17
MonopolyMoney:

If you don't like coding, you will blow your brains out long before you ever get a job at Google.

So not true. I did a math degree and was trying to get into IBD or trading for ages. Got lots of job offers for software engineering roles and at the end joined as a quant at a BB. I hate coding so much.

2/16/17

I was in your shoe few years ago, but It's more like you get versatile by going to Harvard, and nobody cares about your coding smarts (although at times useful) in the long-run.

2/16/17

Interesting! So you are saying it's not the degree that's valuable but the connections and credibility namesake!

2/16/17

life is all about your network and not making people think you are an idiot.

2/22/17
Brosef Stalin17:

life is all about your network and not making people think you are an idiot.

Former fake Frank Quattrone
youtube.com/watch?v=XwOAS1TBoN4

2/24/17
Frank Quattrone:

Brosef Stalin17:life is all about your network and not making people think you are an idiot.

Got sent straight to the interview phase by shooting the shit with a guy in his 40s. He posted a job last week and guess who he remembered ;).

2/16/17

Mechanical Engineering at good school. You can pretty much do anything you want with it.

Edit: It's a bit harder to keep a 4.0 GPA, but you can go into banking (Engineering degrees look better than bullshit degrees IMO), go design planes at Boeing, go work for an Oil major as an engineer, go be a patent attorney, go into sales at a big corporation, hell even be a doctor. The options are limitless.

Anything else you are limited. MechE for some reason has an enormous base of options.

2/22/17

I wouldn't suggest Mech Egg. Versatile as it may seem to be, the field's completely saturated - unless you want to learn about gears, nuts and bolts (literally).

Banking - internships>>>>>degree
Boeing/Big Oil - Masters>>>>Undergrad
Patent Attorney - Big Law, Big Schmaw
Sales - Any degree, literally. GPA doesn't count
Doctor - Above, except GPA counts, and unless you enjoy studying for ten more years after your peers have graduated.

Former fake Frank Quattrone
youtube.com/watch?v=XwOAS1TBoN4

3/4/17

Mech Eng undegrad major here and completely agree. As a summer intern, I worked at a defense contractor doing project management over a summer intern (Mech Eng was not relevant to this role) and transitioned into mgmt consulting (Mech Eng was less relevant here).

Anecdotally, my closest Mech Eng college buddies got into Big Oil, actual Mech Eng position for a satellite company, and wealth mgmt role at a BB.

3/6/17

The real versatile degree is Industrial Engineering. My school, the University of Oklahoma, is moving towards Systems Engineering/Data Science. This degree is literally understanding the concepts of engineering (took 50% ME curriculum as an IE), while pairing in Data-Driven Decision Making (3 courses in Undergrad). They have hired on multiple Data Science professors already. Also, Industrial Engineering is as broad as it gets.

I worked in IT for the school, for a Defense Contractor as a Software Engineer (moved to Systems Integration for the challenge as a EE), and am now in an LDP after grad school. IEs make the company more money than most MEs because we drive process improvements as a sub-function, not redesign things or update tolerances/drawings (most of my experience with MEs so far). My class had 45 grads: ~23 went to Manufacturing/Process/Operations (many in O&G services), 3 went Software, 3 went Defense, 3 went Oil & Gas, 8 went to F500 LDPs, 1 went VC, 1 went IB, 2 went Consulting, and we had multiple stay/go to grad school (I was defense/grad school at the same time).

I did notice that the grad school students went 50% Consulting/LDP and 50% hard engineering, anecdotally.

2/16/17

Math

2/16/17
5 million:

Math

You're setting this person up for unemployment.

Unless you're truly passionate about science, stay away from all STEM. In my experience, most of the people who tell others to get STEM degrees are non-STEM people. If you want to understand why you shouldn't get a STEM degree, then all you need to do is observe the majority of engineers: they all work in business and/or sales -- not engineering. In fact, most engineers never use what they learned in university; it ends up being a waste of time.

2/19/17

If you can pull a 3.5+ in Math and have an interest in it, then that. In my experience it is seen as a positive by pretty much all employers, and you can definitely build on top of that (e.g. finance, business, engineering).

Overall, I would recommend doing what interests you over what "positions you well."

3/7/17

-

2/22/17
5 million:

Math

This. Is. The,. Most. Versatile. Degree.
Just don't do theoretical math - do a program that's a hybrid of Math and Comp Sci.

Former fake Frank Quattrone
youtube.com/watch?v=XwOAS1TBoN4

3/8/17

And add some financial math/quant econ if you're interested in a finance-related career.

2/23/17

^ This. Listen to this kids; I wish I had. Contrary to what other ignoramuses think, Maths is it.

2/16/17

Not many people will care what type of undergrad degree you have after 15 years of working. If your passion is business do a Finance degree and back yourself. Being in high school as well it is very easy to get yourself worked up about the lack of finance related jobs in the future, but you've just got to have faith in your work ethic and determination

2/16/17

Communications

2/17/17

Liberal Arts degree.

Learn how to read history, write prose, and consider big-picture questions.

2/17/17
Cosimo de' Medici:

Liberal Arts degree.

Learn how to read history, write prose, and consider big-picture questions.

Appropriate username.

2/17/17

Backed.

Throw in a little cosmology, theology, and alchemy and you are all set. Study bloodletting or phrenology so you have a trade to fall back on.

2/22/17

You are high, the best degree for the future is gender studies with a minor in social justice.

2/17/17

I didn't know there were people like you WSO haha. You must have studies classics and medieval history at Dartmouth/Williams/Amherst.... I like history and I agree that it can be valuable indicator of critical thinking. Though from what I see, unless you went to a liberal arts school like the ones I mentioned above, a lib arts degree is pretty undesirable in business...

2/18/17

No it's not. I like my coffee brewed by history majors in the morning.

2/22/17

I majored in history and am pretty fucking comfortable betting that I could do your job better than you.

2/22/17

I'm jealous, I took what I consider a "practical" major back in the day (accounting) and can think of several of my buddies who did history, went on to a good MBA, and slingshot past me into great finance jobs

2/24/17

I have a degree in petroleum engineering. The only job in the oil industry you could do is being a roughneck :.

2/23/17

Math is obviously the backbone of finance, but some of the most successful people on the Street have History degrees or are former liberal arts students. A liberal arts degree teaches you how to think (i.e., critically and abstractly), arguably a better long-term skill than simply being a number-crunching robot. There's no point obsessing about numbers without considering whether or not a particular deal makes strategic/bigger-picture sense in the first place.

Best solution is to major in both or at least do a minor/secondary in one or the other. But as others have stated, it's predominantly the hands you shake anyways, not necessarily the grades you make (although going to Harvard can help you shake a lot more hands though).

2/23/17

Unless you major in applied math, a math degree is not about crunching numbers. You'll encounter a noticeably lower amount of numbers after the first year or two and certainly less computation. Theoretical math will teach you how to think just as much as any liberal arts degree, except it will do it with a significantly higher level of rigor and abstraction.

A math degree isn't about becoming a human Wolfram Alpha, there's a reason why Wolfram Alpha exists.

2/24/17

I'm pretty sure that was sarcastic...unless it went completely over my head

Financial Modeling

2/18/17

Engineering is the best foundation for industry. Ayn Rand said it was a mix of physics and philosophy which I came pretty close to in my liberal arts undergrad. But you've got to be entrepreneurial to make that work. Engineering is a highly respected foundation which can learn finance in 2nd gear and has a safety net of secure employment.

2/19/17

CS or applied physics is something I would go for. Finance is easy to learn but studying those two gives you great problem solving skills with good technical abilities. Anyone can read basics of corporate finance, valuation and investment management and then he/she has same knowledge as an undergraduate with finance concentration.

2/19/17

Mark Cuban just said that he believes liberal arts will be more valuable than finance and CS in the future. An interesting thought. http://www.businessinsider.com/mark-cuban-liberal-...

Best Response
2/20/17

A word of advice, don't read business insider.

2/22/17

A word of advice, don't listen to mark cuban

2/22/17

I did doubled in mechanical engineering and material science. I currently work in the automotive industry but will go to B-school this coming fall. If I could turn back the clock, I would have studied either physics or math and double in philosophy.

Engineering has helped me because it allowed me to analyze a problem with different variables. However, I think physics or math would have even been better (ie. Elon Musk). As for philosophy, I think this will come in handy because the future is changing with artificial intelligence and automation. Eventually robots will perform all the essential functions of a programmer or engineer. Knowing how to navigate human thoughts and morality and make logical decisions will be more beneficial in the next 20 years in my opinion.

If your goal is to end up going to B-school, pick a major that you will enjoy and do well in over the course of 4 years because your GPA matters a lot. I wish I were more like you when I graduated high school. Great way to start off your college journey. Good luck!

2/22/17

+1 for Physics & Philosophy, probably the most well rounded education. Oxford has a program that combines the two that I would have liked to complete.

2/22/17

Do anything with a quantitative focus. It could be engineering, math, statistics, econ (take a lot of econometrics courses), could also be bunch of other areas I won't bother to look up. Data science is going to blow up and this kind of background will set you up nicely to take advantage. Not only professionally, but academically as you will have a strong base for grad school.

I AM THE LIQUOR

2/22/17

Now: CS
Future: Avoiding $200K in debt and letting machines just run everything

Seriously, I fear that even for college students today, many careers will be shortened by automation. If you live in California, Washington, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Virginia, Georgia, or Maryland, you have the opportunity to pay $5K/semester for a better engineering degree than most Ivies can offer.

Obviously if you get a full ride to MIT or Stanford or Princeton, take it. But in the face of the future cashflow uncertainty, the safer and more conservative bet is to stay thrifty and spend $20K/year on school rather than $65K/year. UIUC and Berkeley create more successful tech startups than the average Ivy, place better at Google, Amazon, and Facebook, and simply have stronger programs. And they're cheaper, leaving you with more money and freedom to participate in the tech revolution. And if automation happens faster than people expect, you'll have paid off your loans sooner and be in better shape.

If it were me, the safe bet right now is in-state engineering. If you don't have a good state school where you live, ask your parents to move to California. :-)

2/22/17

The ivies, and similar prestige schools, give fantastic financial aid. The only people who are paying 65k per year to go to Princeton are those who's parents make in excess of 250k/year. I come from a middle class family and my cost per year came out to like ~16k/year. It's a complete myth that top target private schools are unaffordable. This is only the case if you have wealthy parents who won't pay for your undergrad education, which I would say is pretty rare. If your parents make under 100k per year, you will get a massive amount of grants from any ivy or similar university.

2/22/17
DeepLearning:

The ivies, and similar prestige schools, give fantastic financial aid. The only people who are paying 65k per year to go to Princeton are those who's parents make in excess of 250k/year. I come from a middle class family and my cost per year came out to like ~16k/year. It's a complete myth that top target private schools are unaffordable. This is only the case if you have wealthy parents who won't pay for your undergrad education, which I would say is pretty rare. If your parents make under 100k per year, you will get a massive amount of grants from any ivy or similar university.

Yes, but if your family earns between $250K and $1mm, $250K over four years is still a huge burden for your family. Furthermore, most state schools offer scholarships to bring the cost down to in-state pricing for stronger candidates. (IE IU, UW Madison, UIUC)

I'd look at the actual cost for you. I'd also not go crazy with applications. Focus your efforts on five or six schools, make sure at least one of them is in-state, one or two of the others are Berkeley, UIUC, or UT Austin, and then if you have a lot of time left, throw your hat into the ring at Princeton, Harvard, or wherever. Just know that the application is more complicated and will often require SAT subject tests, and there's a byzantine financial aid formula specific to each school that you have to figure out-- there's no guarantee your final bill won't be $25K/year, $50K/year, whatever.

If you live in one of the states that have excellent CS and engineering programs (CA, WA, TX, IL, WI, IN, MI, GA, VA, MD, NJ, PA), which covers about 50% of the US population, your #1 most important application is in-state. Get that one perfect, get that one in first, (personal statement, SATs or ACTs), and then decide if you want to take the SAT IIs, write a bunch of essays, line up teacher recommendation, and get everything in by the December 1st or January 1st deadline to see if you can go to a weaker program that's at an Ivy. Then, once you get the admit from Berkeley or UT Austin or Illinois or UW Madison (and some of these schools can get back to you before Thanksgiving if you submit early), you can relax and enjoy senior year.

Me personally, for the same price, or even a slightly higher price, if I was fairly set on CS, I'd take Berkeley CS over any Ivy's CS program. Even Harvard or Princeton, (I went to Princeton and they have an excellent CS program, but Berkeley's is simply much stronger). I did not mention MIT or Stanford, however. Berkeley is just a much better education with more opportunities for graduates, and the best tech jobs outside of finance are on the west coast (the best tech jobs in finance are in Chicago, which is sort of the country's HFT capital).

If you want to do something very tech-focused, which is what I'm recommending for the economy over the next 15 years, the correct answer is Berkeley (or Caltech or Stanford if you qualify for enough financial aid grants to get the cost even).

2/22/17

Not a single person I know from college who's parents made that money have any debt at all. Their parents paid for all of it. Maybe it was a "struggle" but I'm one of the few people I know in my graduating class who have any debt at all. Either people got so much financial aid that they were able to pay the rest in cash or their parents paid for everything. One year my financial aid was not ideal and I went into the office, talked to them about my situation and they gave me 7k more grant aid just like that.

The financial aid formula is definitely somewhat complex but they are often quite flexible with it.

I guess my message is targeted towards the vast majority of kids who's parents do not make 250k+. I would be much more worried about tuition hikes at public universities than I would be about financial aid at an ivy that essentially guarantees a full ride for families making under 70k.

2/22/17
DeepLearning:

Not a single person I know from college who's parents made that money have any debt at all. Their parents paid for all of it. Maybe it was a "struggle" but I'm one of the few people I know in my graduating class who have any debt at all. Either people got so much financial aid that they were able to pay the rest in cash or their parents paid for everything. One year my financial aid was not ideal and I went into the office, talked to them about my situation and they gave me 7k more grant aid just like that.

The financial aid formula is definitely somewhat complex but they are often quite flexible with it.

I guess my message is targeted towards the vast majority of kids who's parents do not make 250k+. I would be much more worried about tuition hikes at public universities than I would be about financial aid at an ivy that essentially guarantees a full ride for families making under 70k.

My parents would only pay in-state despite being able to afford the equivalent of full tuition back then. I went to Illinois and it was the best thing that ever happened to me-- I learned what it's like outside of the comfortable suburban bubble. The traditional midwestern middle class has a different approach, and I honestly think it's the right one.

Had my parents been as tough as some, and had I been a bit tougher, instead of UIUC for undergrad, I would have gone to West Point or Annapolis. In some sense that's the safest bet-- you can't beat FREE with a guaranteed job afterwards.

But in any case, I really think the best program, taking cost out of the picture, is Berkeley. It's even worth paying a premium for if you are doing CS and if you want tech. (Stanford is also a good choice). It's in sunny California, it's an incredibly rigorous CS degree with about 75 credit hours of engineering and CS courses, and the students there have a huge pipeline into Google, Facebook, all kinds of startups, and the whole bay area tech economy.

On the financing part it's also important to note that all ivies run at a deficit and depend on their endowments. Tuition and fees at Princeton were $43000 per year in 2013 (there were about $20-25K in living expenses on top of that), but the actual cost of a seat on campus to the university is more like $65,000. This is in addition to the financial aid you're getting. Furthermore most ivies run on an investing model that ties most of their money up in illiquid private equities. So if there's a major market downturn, there's a potential for cuts in your financial aid.

Provocatively, state schools get less than 10% of their operating budget from the state. They simply run on a lower-cost-per-student model because there are more students and better economies of scale. This lower cost is something that won't change due to a financial crisis or state budget crisis. Furthermore, in engineering, there is a network effect to research. It's more advantageous to have more professors, more graduate students, and more undergraduates on campus- each additional professor, postdoc, and student becomes more valuable. And you can even see it in the rankings of the Ivies-- the biggest Ivy, Cornell, has the strongest engineering rankings and produces some of the most cited research per professor. So it's not really a surprise that the top of most engineering and CS rankings are dominated by state schools and engineering schools (MIT, CMU, Stanford, Caltech) rather than northeastern liberal arts schools.

Why anyone would want to spend four years in the Northeast of all places and then try to break into some west coast startup from there after that (replete with 5 hour plane rides each way) over just going to Berkeley is a bit of an interesting choice to me. But students are free to make their own decisions.

Take the SAT, write a good personal statement, and apply to Berkeley. Then decide if you want to apply to HYP, although I'd push for Stanford, Caltech, CMU, and MIT first.

2/22/17

Sure, but a traditional midwestern middle class kid would get a full ride to harvard, princeton, etc. if admitted.... Not trying to be a prestige asshole, obviously Berkeley, UIUC and other top state schools have fantastic engineering programs.

My point is though is that the median income in the U.S. is ~55k. Any kid who gets into Harvard, Yale, Princeton, etc. who is from a family with income between the 0 and 75th percentile will get everything paid for. I understand where you are coming from but it is entirely a myth that that the ivies and other top private schools are unaffordable for the majority of kids. The reality is that for 75% of the population, going to HYPS, etc. is actually cheaper than going to your local state school because of generous financial aid.

The sliver of the population where it is "unaffordable" to attend a top private school is so incredibly small. Maybe the majority of the kids who read this forum are from such families, I don't know. It's anecdotal but basically everyone I know who attended a public university has debt. Nobody I know from my college has debt either because their parents were wealthy enough to easily pay full tuition or the university gave so much out in grants that it wasn't difficult to pay the rest.

There's two other benefits that are generally applicable to top private schools as well. Grade inflation and class sizes. People at Berkeley EECS get their GPAs murdered and class sizes are over 100 for basically every class in their major. Sure it's a top program but it sounds like a terrible college experience. But maybe that's just me. If you're absolutely sure that CS/engineering is what you want to do and you know that you'll be good at it then sure, all those schools you listed will give you as good or better career results as any ivy. But what if you aren't sure? What if you end up wanting to study english literature but still be able to get a job in corporate America after graduating? That's really only likely or even possible at ivy league and equivalent schools.

Edit: I know this post was focused on engineering mostly. I'm speaking more about people who are interested, or even very interested, in engineering but not entirely sure. If you are dead set on a career in engineering. Of course Harvard is a terrible choice for that compared to Berkeley or Michigan. But hey, engineering majors at harvard working just as hard at Berkeley or going to get a 3.7+ whereas those at grade deflated state schools will struggle to get 3.3+.

2/22/17
DeepLearning:

Sure, but a traditional midwestern middle class kid would get a full ride to harvard, princeton, etc. if admitted....

But why would they bother when UIUC has the better program? Or when Berkeley has the better program and it's 60 degrees and sunny during the winter?

My point is though is that the median income in the U.S. is ~55k. Any kid who gets into Harvard, Yale, Princeton, etc. who is from a family with income between the 0 and 75th percentile will get everything paid for. I understand where you are coming from but it is entirely a myth that that the ivies and other top private schools are unaffordable for the majority of kids. The reality is that for 75% of the population, going to HYPS, etc. is actually cheaper than going to your local state school because of generous financial aid.

30% of students at Princeton qualify for $0 in financial aid. And beyond that 30%, there's a huge portion of students that are paying more than they would in-state. That's their choice. But as for me I'd rather conserve cash in a world where labor will be less necessary.

The sliver of the population where it is "unaffordable" to attend a top private school is so incredibly small.

Again, 30% of students at Princeton get $0 in financial aid. That's a big sliver.

Maybe the majority of the kids who read this forum are from such families, I don't know.

My guess is that if your Dad is a tool and die maker, you are less likely to read this forum than if your Dad is a VP at Baird.

But what if you aren't sure? What if you end up wanting to study english literature but still be able to get a job in corporate America after graduating? That's really only likely or even possible at ivy league and equivalent schools.

Then Berkeley is still a top 20 program for most of those subjects, not unlike an Ivy. And it's in California. And it doesn't require the SAT IIs, three or four goofy admission essays (ranging from "If you were a color what would you be?" to "Ask your own question and answer it") and then force you to go around begging teachers for references and worrying about how much reference fatigue they'll get if you apply to more than three or four schools and they have to fill out a huge form. You fill out a 500 word personal statement, you mail in your SAT and AP scores and transcript, mail in your $30 application check, and you're done. You'll probably hear back in about a month, maybe sooner.

You're a high school kid. Enjoy life or start thinking about a startup. Or put together a YouTube channel. You have more important things to do than punching some prestige ticket, although Berkeley is arguably more prestigious than Princeton.

Seriously, Berkeley is the safe, easy, and most importantly, warm bet. (So is UT Austin)

2/22/17

30% get $0 in financial aid, that's true. But the threshold is 250k+ in order for that to be true. It's a vicious cycle, Middle class kids assume they can't afford to go to Harvard or Princeton, so they don't apply, so the only people who end up there are rich kids. That's the myth I am trying to dispel. The 30% statistic is misleading because of this. Yes, the percentage of kids who attend Princeton and similar schools that are wealthy is extremely high. But there are so, so many kids who end up not applying to the top private schools because they falsely assume they can't afford the tuition, unaware of the generous financial aid packages those schools give. I'm referring to the whole population when I say that it's a small sliver.

I just looked up Berkeley cost of attendance for in-state. Estimated to be ~30k/year including housing. Michigan estimate is 28k. UIUC 31k. That is nearly what I paid and I would say that my family's socioeconomic background is pretty representative as my parents collectively were making ~80k/year in a medium cost of living area at the time. My estimate is that the cost for a top state school and top private school are probably the same somewhere around the 120-130k mark. 130k is top 10% household income. 90% of U.S. households make less. If everyone who reads this forum came from top 10% families then sure I guess everything I'm saying isn't that relevant. But seriously it's not like I'm talking about kids who's parents are crackheads. Just talking about kids who come from normal middle class families that make anywhere between 50 and 100k. If you fall in that range or below it, attending a top private school will be cheaper than attending a top state school discounting scholarships from the state school. And again, I am much more fearful of public universities hiking tuition rates. I understand where you're coming from but I just want to make it crystal clear to any kid who happens to stumble on this thread that unless your parents are in the top 10% income bracket, it is very likely that HYPS, etc. would actually be as expensive or cheaper than the local top state school.

2/23/17
DeepLearning:

The reality is that for 75% of the population, going to HYPS, etc. is actually cheaper than going to your local state school because of generous financial aid.

It is obviously dependent on the state, but if you are getting into HYPS, then you're going to qualify for some serious $$ from your state school and will likely be going at the very least tuition free.

2/22/17

Anything that puts you in a position to avoid this: http://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/downloads/academi....

2/22/17

Tbf you seem like you'd nail an undergrad in philosophy... some big questions here

2/22/17

SE / ECE/ SYDE (software/electrical&comp / systems design). I'm a Canadian STEM university and these guys are getting jobs almost anywhere, Quant finance/ CS / fin-tech / S&T / data-science / tech... It's a bit rare but there are definitely engineers in banking.

2/22/17

Re: Business degrees & Google

That's not true. Google hires plenty of business majors for the sales and operations side of the business.

Economics is actually is very versatile degree, provided it's of the "mathsy" variety and comes from a reputable institution.

2/22/17
surferdude867:

Re: Business degrees & Google

That's not true. Google hires plenty of business majors for the sales and operations side of the business.

Economics is actually is very versatile degree, provided it's of the "mathsy" variety and comes from a reputable institution.

But the best-- and also cheapest-- way into Google is a CS degree from a strong state school. Starting developer salaries have roughly doubled over the past decade, and they'll go up even faster if Zoe Lofgren's H1B reform bill passes.

This will come to an end eventually in about 15-20 years as everything gets automated. But right now, engineering is the field to be in, and a cheap, highly ranked $10k/semester state school is the place to study it at. As we say in banking, you can teach finance and economics to anyone just about anywhere, but algorithms and math are harder to teach.

2/22/17

I never said it wasn't. I simply said that a non-technical major does not preclude one from working at Google (I worked there on the sales side for a time).

If I could go back in time I would have tacked on a double major in either CS or statistics (probably CS and then done a masters in stats) o you're preaching to the choir, but I'm still making over $200k per year working from home in the tech space with a liberal arts degree.

2/24/17

I do not think an econ degree has to be math-sy. MS me or whatever, but linear algebra and econometrics are 100% useless when you consider the most complicated thing you'll do with an econ degree is index match and maybe nested if statements if you are a real amateur.

2/24/17

Why would I MS you?

It doesn't have to be mathsy, but the more mathsy the more versatile the degree is.

2/22/17

If you are less passionate about STEM than you wish you were, and are thinking about business but don't want to take intro business classes BC you plan to get a MBA maybe this.

I don't know about 15 years in the future, but a decade ago and maybe today an enjoyable education path was Sociology (undergrad) and Accounting (masters) at a state university. I know two folks who did that and they work in real estate development and consumer brand management. Both started in the Big 4 after college. Both are "weird" (good thing).

  • Sociology: study of people/groups, trends, lots of writing and research, can be super enjoyable
  • Accounting: masters degree, two years but part time, you can work. You get that technical skill, campus recruiting, beta alpha psi, and internships. No waste of time intro biz classes that you will later retake at a top MBA with a six figure price tag.

Why both? I feel like business majors at a lot of schools don't place a lot of emphasis on hard core research. What undergrad biz schools do have is connections for you to get your first job. Sociology (or the humanities; I also love history) helps you think about your world view and communicate it (but the career placement is much to be desired). Later that world view could be an investment thesis or new platform. I would take upper level classes from a variety of subjects (urban planning, history, organic chemistry maybe) and try to graduate in 3 years (but no more than 4 years).

Spend the summer between your UG and MAcc taking summer school classes at a more prestigious university. Often times, summer school instate and outofstate tuition are same. You might even get your MAcc at this school if you think about working in that city.

I don't know about the future of accounting / audit but if you are at no-name state U and have little interest or can't get great grades in STEM, this is what I'd do to at the baseline to have a middle class life with an interesting academic experience. Don't forget the social aspect. College is a good time to find out what you are good at.

2/22/17

From a corporate career standpoint, generally the most useful subjects to learn are programming, statistics, probability, accounting, and psychology. These can all be applied to a variety of fields. However that doesn't necessarily mean you should major in them...

Major in the most difficult subject that you can get good grades in and have interest in. Aside from that, take whatever classes you want

2/22/17

Any of the following:

Harvard
Oxford
Yale
Princeton
Stanford

2/22/17

Why are majors like art history or music not getting any loving on WSO? They are great for careers in BB IBD...

2/22/17

Robert Duval said you need to eat, sleep, and breathe LBOs. Music or Gender Studies will make you into a Crazy Bernie fan.

2/22/17

RDuval is starting to really get some traction on WSO. He's here to stay!

2/22/17

Based on what you said it seems like you are open to a few different paths whether it be in technology or business. With that in mind I think a degree in Economics is one to consider. Economics as a major gives you flexibility to work in different industries by tailoring your education to fit a given field. Economics has the liberal arts aspect that finance does not, and also has the quantitative aspect that most social sciences lack. Essentially you open up a broader set of opportunities for yourself post-graduation. However I will caveat this by saying it is important to have solid on-campus activities and internships on your resume that show an interest in particular fields so that when it comes time to do recruiting you have evidence of being a good fit for a given industry. For example, if you want to go into IB, an Economics degree is not enough. Combining it with experience in an on-campus IB club or a related internship is important for getting your foot in the door. My Economics classmates ended up in law school, IB, Capitol Hill, consulting, etc.

I got my BS and terminal MA in Economics and ended up in M&A, where I am very happy. The good thing about my degrees in Economics is that I had many options across multiple industries.

2/22/17

EE / Robotics.

2/22/17

First off, go to the best school you can, Ivy, Public Ivy, Semi Target, Top LAC, etc. I would argue that school brand matters more than what you major in. This is evidenced by the number of Harvard Liberal Arts majors doing big things in the corporate world

AFter achieving number 1, I'd advise basing your studies off of a combination of a few things, you're own personal interests, what will be "useful" and can help you get a job, and lastly, what you get can decent grades in.

For all the people telling you to do CS or EE or Math, even if you love those subjects, if you get a 2.3 GPA that's going to make it tough to standout. On the other end of things, if you love...let's say Sociology or English or something that is less directly related to industry, that's completely fine(given you're going to a good school), but make sure to supplement it with some STEM, CS, Econ etc so you can at least point to the fact that you're well rounded.

If grades are a issue, try and pass fail the tough classes, take easier classes, or just make sure to take a mix of easy and hard each semester.

Most importantly, have fun in college, don't stress too much about the future, trust me it'll come faster than you want it to.

2/22/17

I recently spoke about undergrad majors and masters degrees with a few directors at my company (aerospace / defense). Engineering degrees are extremely valuable in the market place, but they are not all equal. The response I received when I asked what major do they think is most valuable to our company was Electrical Engineering. The reason being that there are electrical components involved in every single product we make, and will continue to make for the next 30-40 years. Mechanical degrees are great and versatile across functions, but they are more common so supply and demand starts to kick in.

What some people may find interesting was the value these people placed on finance degrees. At the end of the day, engineering people can come up with the most technologically innovative idea of all time, but if there is no one there to budget, forecast costs, determine RoI, etc. then these engineers are useless. More so, many who had masters degrees in engineering (often with a quantitative / engineering undergrad), wished they did not do an engineering masters, but instead got an MBA (for the finance course load).

I would say the best combination was listed above and is rather general.... Something numbers based (statistics, engineering, finance / economics) with something along the liberal arts scheme (philosophy, poli sci, english, etc.).

...

2/22/17

Considering what you said, no you shouldn't do CS. For CS to be valuable, you need to be good at and have a passion for coding. Just because you graduated from CalTech or MIT with a CS degree, doesn't mean you'll make it through the technical portion of a Google interview. If you do end up getting a job as a programmer, how will you survive if you dislike what you do?

Overall, this discussion seems somewhat moot. If you get a business, economics, or liberal arts degree from a top institution, you will do just fine in an automated world. If you get an engineering, math, physics, statistics, or CS degree from a top school (note: the Ivies are not necessarily the best schools in these areas), you will also do fine. Just focus on something that you like and will be good at.

2/22/17

It's actually insane to me that you are so a) aware of the different options available to you at your age and b) so career oriented at your age. I am honestly impressed, I was trying to figure out which shirts make me look the coolest at your age.

I would go into a engineering field (electrical/mechanical or preferably something like biomedical engineering). Here are the reasons:

1) No one will question your analytical & quantitative skills.
2) You get exposure to programming.
3) You have field expertise other than just "finance", which could help you stand out in a line full of finance professionals.
4) If you decide you hate finance, medical schools love engineering backgrounds as well.
5) Top MBA programs love engineering backgrounds.
6) MBB and other consulting firms love engineers, and this trend is only increasing as the consulting industry becomes more and more specialized.
7) During school you will get opportunities to do things that most people NEVER get to do (i.e. build a fucking go-kart from scratch for your senior research project and race it against other teams in your university and other universities). Honestly, these opportunities are often overlooked, but they are some of the best memories & experiences you will have in your life cause they are so unique.

2/22/17

You should pursue something you are passionate about. I had scores of friends who went into STEM and failed out, ultimately to go to a Masters in Computer Science from ivy leagues after working for Google in a non-technical related position. They learned programming as a side benefit to help their jobs, and it provided a form of curiosity that made their work environment easier to work in. A good friend mine was a business major at a target, took a CS as an elective, switched, and worked directly under Bill Gates for 8 years before her startup.

I read an article online, in where Mike Rowe gave advice to my generation (millennials), in which he said that, look where people are going, and go the other direction.

Source - NPR News - http://www.npr.org/2016/05/20/478733784/mike-rowe-...

In point - do what you love, money will follow.

2/22/17

Physics and Philosophy. Just ask John Galt.

Of war men ask the outcome, not the cause.

2/22/17
coopman:

Physics and Philosophy. Just ask John Galt.

Who is John Galt?

2/23/17

you must be a commie

2/23/17

You must not be that well read

2/23/17

yep totally missed that reference. Been a quick min. since i read that book. unfortunately cannot give myself ms

2/22/17

Engineering or computer science.

2/22/17

Naval Ravikant talks about this in one of his podcasts with Tim Ferriss. I believe he was an Econ, Comp Sci double major, or switched majors at some point in school. Anyways, his takeaway was that Micro Econ was super useful (how people make decisions, game theory, etc.) and Macro Econ was useless (top economists can't agree what is best for the larger economy). And actual coding languages etc. isn't super useful (since languages change, the tech is always changing, etc.) but understanding the logic and how computer science in general works was very useful. Go find the actual interview, but he's a super smart guy and his insight made a lot of sense. I was an Econ major and wholeheartedly agree, although can't comment on the comp sci side of things.

2/22/17

Comp Sci is all about understanding the logic behind algos. Who the fuck focuses on the languages in Comp Sci? The coursework is difficult enough that most programs focus on the former. Pretty obvious statement.

Former fake Frank Quattrone
youtube.com/watch?v=XwOAS1TBoN4

3/7/17

-

3/5/17

Yeah, I'm guessing you popped out of some no-name liberal arts college. I especially hate it when your types venture into STEM territory and throw buzzwords out like AI, Fintech, Big Data, blah blah...

The Comp Sci program of any school with a strong rep worth their name (Stanford, MIT, UIUC, UWash, etc.) has a rigorous program that tests your sanity to the limits. While your syntax and logic argument is valid, that isn't the reason stopping thousands of people from learning how to code. What's stopping them is the rigor of the programs at these universities, which is demanded in the coursework by companies that wish to hire their graduates.

You mention proficiency to "at least a workable level". Well guess what, workable level is a very transient term. Previously (maybe 20-30 yrs back) you could get a half-decent job in Google/Facebook if you knew the basics - DS, Algorithms, CompArc, etc. Nowadays, if you want to make yourself hireable, you better load up your coursework with stuff like Crypto, ML, OS, and interdisciplinary projects.

If anyone believes otherwise, then your program isn't rigorous enough to be of any value. Period.

Former fake Frank Quattrone
youtube.com/watch?v=XwOAS1TBoN4

3/7/17

-

3/5/17

Ok, I make a passing statement, and this Cumbar decides to harp on it.
Vodka Redbull mentioned that Ravikant feels that learning coding languages is useless.

I reiterated that, intending to point out that that's a pretty obvious statement to make, no 'insights' given by Ravikant. I also stated that programs focus on the logic of the algos, which are tough enough for even STEM oriented guys to grasp, hence no program worth their name would bother with sticking to a particular language.

Then you thought of swooping in and trying to shit all over, for some innate motive that lord only knows, and try to harp in on some minor detail, and instead of trying to counter my argument, you actually wax eloquent exactly my argument in a whole paragraph.

Then I, seemingly a bit pissed at your first statement, decided to explain my position. I agreed with your points, but elaborated on my assertion as to why the coursework being harder is the reason many guys drop out of STEM. My friends who studied Mech. Engg and Chem. Engg. can easily understand the logics of basic principles and fundamentals of CS, like the stuff you learn in Data Structures. But would that make them hireable even at entry-level coding jobs? Ten years ago, sure. Now, no way.

But it's this hireability factor that differentiates programs and makes state schools such as UIUC and UWash stand out over even most of the Ivies. Why is that the case? Because these schools have much more difficult coursework than the (relatively) lax rigor in "global top unis" that you mention. For your CS degree to carry any value, its the knowledge you gained from your coursework that matters when startups and tech comes for hiring, rather than the more superficial preftige factors typical of IBD/Consults. Your CS degree from Harvard would be useless if all you've learnt are the basics and (insert ).

So in conclusion, since I wasn't detailed enough the first time for simple-minded plebs like you, in CS:
Logic of Algorithms = Necessary but tough to learn >> coursework becomes tougher >> likelihood of dropping out increases >> program becomes selective >> tech companies get best people >>hireability goes up
Easy coursework implies ==> Logic of Algos wasn't thought well enough >> companies do not prefer >> hireability drops
Hireability == proxy for value of the degree
Learning coding by the language >> Pointless >> Naval Ravikant is stating the obvious == my original argument

Seems like you just want to get back at me for some reason whatsoever, just to prove you "know" tech. And then what? That puzzles me.

Former fake Frank Quattrone
youtube.com/watch?v=XwOAS1TBoN4

2/22/17

Assuming you have equal interest/skill in finance/CS, I would go:

CS if you go to a non target school or
Anything you want as long as you can get a high gpa from a target school for banking.

2/22/17

I was (am) CS/Math at a top target school and I'll say this: Give computer science a try first before taking a deep dive in. You are going to realize that it's either so mind-numbing you could never do it or you will feel those small gratifying events that the small successes bring and then maybe it is for you (my experience).

Also give Stats a try. Even taking just a probability class (with calculus) and mathematical statistics is worth it. Stuff like time series and machine learning are super useful and heavily tied to probabilistic/statistical thinking. Treat your freshman year as a chance to explore the different STEM subjects and see where you fit. I tried physics/math/stats/CS/EE before settling on CS/math with a decent amount of stats classes.

2/23/17

Wow! Thanks for all the responses! Definitely a lot diff. perspectives and opinions to consider. Taking a closer look at engineering & CS, it doesn't seem like something i would enjoy doing for 4 years (even though I'm recognized as a top Physics student in my school region). I'm considering a few Ivy school and some Canadian universities atm (i'm Canadian).

2/23/17

Your undergraduate major is irrelevant 10 years post graduation. Tailor your major for the field you want to work in and go to the best school you can (for the network).

2/23/17

Study classics. Only the man with Latin and Greek is truly educated. When the Goldman interviewer asks what the heck you were thinking, majoring in classics for a finance career, you can reply Homo doctus is se semper divitias habet (A learned man always has wealth within himself).

2/23/17

Industrial Economics, or some degree with about 50% Engineering / 50% Economics. Where I went to, they called it Industrial Economics. It was mainly a Engineering program, but with around half or one third with typical economics and business classes.

Businesses today LOVE people with solid quantitative skills, good knowledge of how a business works, and technical expertise. If you plan on grad school: Engineering + MBA.

As for what Engineering? Software, Electrical, Computer, Data Science, or something like that. Something that gives you a really good understanding of computing. Specialize in something AI related. I have school buddies that went to study Machine Learning, got tons of job offers, then got their MBA, and are still swimming in job offers and headhunters. You can use your MBA to springboard into management of relatively young tech firms that work heavily around data.

2/24/17

Intersectional Queer and Gender Studies

3/5/17

I would like to second that. And, if it doesn't work out, at least you learned who's at fault.

2/25/17

If you're interested in business/finance, you should study business/finance (or econ if your school doesn't offer business). I came really close to majoring in pharmacy instead of business because everyone kept talking about how lucrative the field is, but I realized I would never be happy if I didn't at least give finance a shot. Ultimately having a sought-after major will never compare to truly having a passion for it, because the kids who are the best all have an intellectual curiosity that's driven by passion.

2/26/17

Depending on what you're interested in, I'd choose from some combination of CS, Engineering, Statistics, and Finance

2/27/17

Personally, I'd recommend exactly what I did - Economics major with a double minor in CS and Philosophy.

Anyone who doesn't take at least 1 CS course in college today is wasting their money IMO. Even if you never program anything in your life, learning how to think systematically and care about every minute detail are important skills - not to mention that it is now expected to have at least 1 CS course on your transcript for B-school, and knowing how to read/understand code/technical specifications is becoming increasingly valuable in today's world.

I don't think majoring in CS is a particularly horrible idea, but I also think that it is a highly overrated concept. CS classes are some of the most time-consuming classes you can take in college. Time spent staring at your code is time not spent having fun with your friends/developing yourself outside of class/working on your other classes. The reality is that unless you go to a top CS school like Stanford/Harvard/CMU, being a CS major won't lead to the big tech companies knocking on your door. Most of the people who end up working in tech - CS majors or not - are in large part either self-taught or took part in programs for CS outside of school - which a CS minor (or even a few classes) will open doors to anyways. It does teach you how to think a certain way, which has a lot of value, but in my experience, it is not the best bang for your buck/time/GPA.

To be educated is to know at least a little bit of Locke/Hobbes/Kant/Machiavelli/etc. The modern concept of university was born out of teaching philosophy, and it would be a waste not to have at least some of the classic university experience if you're about to spend a ton of time and money in college. More importantly though, like CS, philosophy is a subject which really teaches skills - different skills, but equally if not more important than CS. Philosophy teaches you how to write, how to argue, and how to analyze - all things that will continue to be important no matter what year it is or what profession you are in. For example, Philosophy is the highest scoring major on both the GRE and the LSAT, and is top 5 on the GMAT. My university also claims that philosophy majors earn the 4th most overall, after economics, engineering, and math.

Overall though, I would say that economics wins the title for the best possible major. It is generally not time intensive (relative to anything STEM). Outside of the upper-level econometrics classes (which some people find ways to avoid taking, but are also very interesting/quite practical), it is a generally easy/intuitive/less time-consuming subject. It also gets you a fair amount of respect - much more than is probably deserved - in the professional world. Personally, I enjoyed learning about economics on my own outside of class far more than in class, but being an econ major freed up my time for other, more valuable things in college, while maintaining respectability on my resume. In the end, that is the real value of an econ degree - learning just enough from the books to rightly call yourself educated, while being able to network and enjoy yourself.

I would advise against business/finance. Much moreso than CS (where having a good instructor and tons of time matters) or Philosophy (where being around similarly minded people to discuss matters) or really most other majors, you can learn most of what you will eventually use in those majors in the real world, and the rest of it can be easily self-taught on your own time. Other than Wharton, undergrad business/finance degrees are not especially respectable, and are much less intellectually stimulating than most of your other options in college - you can do better with your time. Not to mention that these sorts of systematic, easy to learn professions will be amongst the first to be automated away.

STEM degrees are respectable, interesting, and valuable. But unless you really love the subject you're studying, it will not be worth the time investment / likely GPA hit.

Also, your major WILL NOT limit where you will be able to work at the high end. So long as you go to a respectable school and have the grades, the world is (+/-) your oyster. I know CS majors at GS/JPM, Art History majors at MBB, and at least one religious studies major at Google. Certain majors WILL make your life easier - STEM/Econ/CS majors get (in my opinion undue) respect in today's world, but it is far more important to develop skills and yourself, while maintaining some semblance of respectability - ie don't be a dance/studio art/film major (not because those are not respectable professions, but because college is not the best place to learn them, they limit your options, and you will be wasting your time and money).

3/3/17

Agree completely with the last point. You can pivot most anything into something useful. Just don't be an ass, and make sure you can speak intelligently about why you made the choices you did. Likeability and aptitude go a long way.

3/4/17

"Other than Wharton, undergrad business/finance degrees are not especially respectable"
You have to be kidding me. So UVA Mcintire, UMich Ross, and Georgetown McDonough graduates aren't respectable? Be it so, they are making a hell lot more $$ than you.

3/5/17

You're right. UVA, UMich, and Gtown have respectable Bschool programs - I'll take that back. My point was that majoring in business administration at, say, the University of Georgia is probably going to do you less good than majoring in a STEM field at the same school.

2/27/17

I think a major distinction we have to make is the difference between the major and the skills developed. We see examples of liberal arts (art history, history, philosophy) and also STEM majors in IB, trading, etc. and likewise non-CS-related majors like mechanical engineering in software development.

It's not so much the major as the skills you develop over those four years. The major is just a vehicle that tends to provide those skills you associate with it, and also serves as a signal to employers of your aptitude. Banking isn't looking for finance majors specifically, and quantitative positions like those at tech firms or algorithmic trading shops aren't solely looking for CS students. They want the skills those majors tend to provide (analysis and detail for the former, numeracy and logical creativity for the latter).

The major just happens to provide a lot of direct exposure to the skills you associate with it. Computer science majors write a lot of code, but so do electrical engineers and applied mathematics majors. Being a certain major doesn't prevent you from taking courses that can help you develop those skills, and it's the repeated practice and development that allow you to become stronger at it.

I'd focus more on the skills you want to build over the major itself. While the two usually go hand in hand, don't stress yourself because you have the flexibility to take what you want in school. You'll have to persuade Google you know what you're doing if you're a liberal arts major, but they won't look down on you if you can prove you know the data structures and algorithms and have a passion for development just like the other candidates.

3/5/17

Thanks for furnishing such well put together articles

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