The Economics of Choosing a Major

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by SamAca10, Oct 27, 2010.

  1. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    I was wondering if anyone here could help me out with my situation in regards to majors. Currently, I'm trying to decide between Electrical Engineering and Operations Research (Math). There is a lot of overlap in the courses that the two have to take, but there are some significant differences:

    EE is one of the most difficult college majors, and it has an incredibly huge workload. However, it's definitely a 'marketable' degree.

    OR doesn't have any labs or papers to do, so there is more time to focus on the school work and dedicate time to other things like military duties and EC's. However, I'm not sure how 'marketable' the degree is.

    There's a good chance that I could get a higher GPA in OR than in EE, so is it better to major in OR? I know that I want to get flight school out of the Academy if I can, which is extremely competitive. So would it be better to major in EE and maybe have to wait a tour or two, or major in something that could reach my goal more easily.

    Is it possible to get a master's degree in EE with a bachelor in OR?

    Of course, graduating and being a good Officer is the most important thing to keep in mind, not major.

    Thanks!
     
  2. SteveHolt243

    SteveHolt243 Member

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    What do you find more interesting?
     
  3. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    Sam- this is the ultimate opinion question. If you want my personal opinion- EE is a heck of a lot more valuable undergraduate degree while ORSA is typically a masters degree (this is a common masters program at Navy PGS). However, EE will make you sweat a lot- I'm pretty sure that it is about the most difficult undergraduate major you can take on-so if you aren't interested in being an Electrical engineer as a vocation- then I'm not sure why you would do this to yourself. so the answer to your question really needs to start from the answer to the question- what do you want to do with the degree?
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2010
  4. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    I thought that EE would be a good "back up" career type major if I ever decided to leave the CG, and it is rather cool knowing how a computer or a TV or any piece of technology works. But my ultimate goal is to fly, and I'm thinking OR could be a means to an end. After all, if I am lucky enough (and depending on vision/medical requirements) to get flight school right after graduation, I'll just stick with that. Looking at class rankings and such, OR does seem the better option.

    I'm more interested in technology than in finance though, which is what has led me to my interest in the EE major.

    Thanks!
     
  5. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    ABET will tell you Chemical Engineering is the "nastiest" however...having played an EE for four years...

    OUCH!!! :eek:

    But I agree completely with Bruno...it is MUCH more "sell-able" in the outside world right now and I think for the foreseeable future.

    But it really does come down to: "what do you want to do and what do you enjoy?"

    I started out an Aero Engineer, then liked Human Factors Engineering, then was interested in Philosophy/Law...

    Ended up a Mech Engineer and loved it! :thumb:

    What have I used since graduation?

    THE CORE!!!

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  6. Kevin23

    Kevin23 Member

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    Being a Sophomore and current AROTC Cadet, I'd have to say what I have learned so far in college is do something you love and something you are good at. For example, even though my degree of history/global affairs doesn't attract alot of attention right out of college compared to a physics or engineering degree, time spent as an officer in the military will certainly make it much more valuable should I contract. As I can go work for in a mid to high level position in the CIA, Defense or State Department, with a think-tank, or even as a senior advisor to a member of Congress.

    However, it's a somewhat mirror image of our case also as math, science, and technical degrees are also getting hit hard with the shape of the economy, I know many who are majoring in these degrees who are also having a hard time finding work. Although, with military experience, especially the more senior you are and with even more technical and military education under your belt you can go work for a company like Boeing, a Federal Agency like many of the places I mentioned, become a contractor, etc.

    The possibilities are endless no matter what, just do well in your college academic and military career.
     
  7. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    Based on what you've said and what I know, go OR.
     
  8. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    SamAca10,

    You may want to talk to a 2/c or 1/c ORCA major in your company before you decide.

    You may find out that ORCA is not the cake-walk you think it is.

    Perhaps you should consider Government or Management (non tech majors) if you think they would be "easier" and allow you to achieve your desired high GPA and thus receive a coveted flight school billet 3.5 years from now.

    CGPA is 70% of your MPA.
     
  9. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    What you will have to remember with the "easy" government and management majors are....lots of reading and lots of writing. It's not for everyone. I know a number of toads who pulled C's in "government-related" classes.

    Do what will interest you. If you're doing something you aren't interested in, that GPA probably won't go anywhere are you do something "just to do it".

    I'll tell you Fish-kissing is fun too. Small group of classmates and interesting material, but a heck of a lot of lab time.
     
  10. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Concur with EE being the toughest major at CGA.
     
  11. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    Would you mind providing insight into what you know hornetguy? I'd really appreciate the additional info. Thanks!
     
  12. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    I really liked English and history in high school, but decided that I don't want to have to write a lot of papers during my Academy time.

    Fish-kissing has lots of lab time too, so that's one of the reasons I'm not interested in that. I'd rather go for EE if I was going to do labs.

    Would you say that the major you walk away with or the billet you get is more important LITS? Thanks
     
  13. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

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    Both are very marketable.
    EE is exceedingly difficult.
    You want the best shot at flight school.
    OR is easier. You will get better grades there.
    Based on your goals, OR is the better choice.
     
  14. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    FYI -

    Of the 7 direct flight school billets from the Class of 2010:

    EE majors = 3
    CE majors = 1
    ME majors = 1
    MGMT majors = 1
    ORCA majors = 1
    NAME = 0
    GOVT = 0
    MES = 0

    :cool:
     
  15. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    Interesting statistic Luigi, really interesting...so is it just GPA based, or are there other factors into flight school (besides medical)? Either that, or those must be very sharp Ensigns! :cool:
     
  16. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    Your Military Precedence Average determines military precedence within a class and the order in which a cadet's names will be placed on the Active Duty Promotion List (ADPL) after commissioning.

    Your MPA will be determined by the following formula:

    MPA = .70 (CGPA) + .25 (CMPI) + ,05 (PDC)

    CGPA = Cadet Grade Point Average
    CMPI = Cadet Military Performance Index
    PDC = Physical Development Competencies

    It also results in a list which rank orders each cadet in a class for determining seniority at Billet Night.

    :cool:
     
  17. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    The promotion order will change over your career. As people are deep-selected, promoted ahead of their time, or passed over, things will shift. By O-4 promotion board time, it's all mess up! :biggrin:

    Only 7 spots last year?

    I wouldn't read too far into those stats either.
     
  18. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Within the Coast Guard, the billet you walk away with is more important. Management majors get engineering billets, engineers get deck watch officer billets. That first billet goes a long way to determining your career path. Yes, you can change it, especially in your next two billets, but that first billet can be the foundation.

    Outside of the Coast Guard, your major matters more. Leadership is leadership and you'll get in no matter the path you take.

    Outside of the Coast Guard, a BS from the Coast Guard Academy looks pretty good. Your time in the Coast Guard will only help. There is a great network out there, not just CGA, but an interesting relationship with other service academy grads.

    So, in the Coast Guard, billet matters. Outside, you major matters more.
     
  19. BR2011

    BR2011 USAFA Cadet

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    Your class is most likely not going to have any flight school spots so I wouldn't choose a major based on that.

    I was faced with a similar choice as a 4/c and ended up choosing OR, I couldn't be happier. My main reason was that I didn't know what I wanted to get my masters in and figured have a strong math background would enable me to choose from a variety of subjects. I've used my electives to take some EE classes and did my internship at the NSA this past summer through the EE department so I've gotten the best of both worlds. I wouldn't say OR is easier material-wise either. The workload is just a lot lighter so you aren't stressed and spending a lot of late nights trying to finish work.

    Starting next semester you guys will get to see presentations on all the majors to help you decide. In the end you can't really go wrong. Both majors are interesting an extremely marketable in the real world.
     

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