How much "college knowledge" might I actually use in my future career job?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by MusicEnthusiast, Feb 26, 2013.

  1. MusicEnthusiast macrumors 6502


    Jun 23, 2010
    Los Angeles
    Hi all!

    I'm four months away from the golden day of graduation. It's been four intense, yet fulfilling years here at my university. I'm going to earn a BS in Atmospheric Sciences with a minor in Applied mathematics and Japanese. While I love the schoolwork I'm doing, I have a few noteworthy items to bring to the table.

    For one, all my work in Atmospheric Sciences is pretty rudimentary. We technically always work in simplified, idealized "worlds" in which the atmosphere behaves in elementary physics. While this makes the math easier and the understanding of the physics possible, I am a little unsure how I'll feel once I graduate without knowing the "full story". With the proper training on-the-job, will it be enough for me to take on the role of a forecaster who will need to know the picky details of the atmosphere over a certain area?

    Second, the various classes I am taking are over a broad range of interests among my classmates. There is the really basic climatology stuff. There's also instrument testing and observations (a class I'm taking right now, actually) that would appease hands-on lovers, and there's the nitty gritty dynamics classes that are just filled with derivations and math, in which a researcher would flourish among pages and pages of notes I take everyday. Don't get me wrong, it's amazing to take such diverse classes. However, will I know exactly what I want to do with all my knowledge? I would hate to put it all to waste over one job that utilizes maybe 1/50th of what I learned in school.

    Finally, there's the minor aspect of it all. I decided to go for an applied mathematics minor because I was simply one class away from it (the others were required as prereqs for my major). Japanese is a passion of mine, and although I probably won't move to Japan, I love being able to converse in it from time to time. I'm rather curious here... how many of you guys actually use what you learned in your minors in your career jobs?

    Ah, well that's it for me. Back to work on my 4th lab report of the quarter. Working ahead feels awesome, but I do need sleep, too. haha Comment away! Share your experiences!
  2. Macman45 macrumors G5


    Jul 29, 2011
    Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
    Well, the course you have chosen would be totally required, it's not like a degree in physiology or IT where you often know things already..Applied science and mathematics is highly specialised, and you will only get that knowledge from your degree.

    I have never, ever used my degree for a specific job, having been self employed for most of my life. However, a University degree teaches you something else that you will use throughout your life whatever career you choose....It's a way of thinking, of analysing and resolving problems that a standard high school education can't deliver. This stays with you through life, and I know I would not have certain skills had I not attained my degree, mixed with others in academia etc. Whatever you choose, you have certainly not wasted your time. Good luck with your future career path.
  3. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    IMO, the purpose of a college education is to give you enough background to understand your on-the-job training. Sounds to me like you're going about this the right way, and with realistic expectations.

    As I was approaching my graduation date (mechanical engineering), I kept panicking because I felt like I didn't really know anything. Turns out I was right - but even though I didn't know how to do the job when I got started after graduation, I had enough of a background to understand what was being taught to me.

    There's no substitute for experience. Your education can help you absorb that experience much easier and much faster.
  4. maxosx macrumors 68020

    Dec 13, 2012
    Southern California
    The first hurtle after graduation is getting the interview, and doing well enough to be called back for an interview in front of the decision makers that will either send you packing, or grant you a job opportunity.

    Therefore as every year ticks off, more and more job seekers become your competition. The basic educational prerequisites are raised, just to simply qualify you for an interview.

    Completing college, obtaining a Masters or Doctorate are the bare bones requirements if you seek a high paying position at the earliest part of your career. Once you enter the work force, moving up at a brisk pace is extremely challenging no matter your intellect. Therefore the higher you start, the better your chances are.

    Otherwise your in for a long bumpy ride. Decades of hard work with mediocre wages.

    The greatest gift I ever received was my parents relentlessly reminding & convincing me of the crucial need for the highest level of educational credentials.
  5. Squilly macrumors 68020


    Nov 17, 2012
    I am a freshman in college now. I'm thinking the same thing, even though I haven't "dug deep" in any major yet.
  6. mobilehaathi macrumors G3


    Aug 19, 2008
    The Anthropocene
    I don't know, will you? Sounds like the answer is no at the moment.
  7. 184550 Guest

    May 8, 2008
    College, at least undergrad, isn't really about gaining any valuable knowledge. It's more about proving to potential employers that you are able to function somewhat successfully in the world and aren't completely stupid or incapable of learning new things. Anything that will actually be applicable in a future career or profession will either be learned on the job or in grad school.
  8. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    I agree with the first half, but the second is a bit off at least in my industry. For me, the general education knowledge is all but worthless. The things I learned in undergrad in journalism, TV production, and graphic design were put to use almost everyday in my career.

    I got a job at the local paper during my junior year, and once the paper moved to video and the web my TV production skills came in handy.

    Now, I am designing curriculum, making short films for advocacy, and teaching. All with a B.S. degree.
  9. 184550 Guest

    May 8, 2008
    I suppose the value of auxiliary activities completed or pursued in undergrad affects ones prospects as well.

    I got a BA in History, which while a great basis for advanced degrees, is pretty ****ing useless on its own as I've discovered over the past three years.
  10. rei101 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 24, 2011
    My question is...

    Are there jobs for that major? Does people get actually hired? never hear of such career before.
  11. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    HAHAHAHAAHAHAHA! I understand :D

    My wife has two degrees, one in history and the only thing she was able to do with both has been teach.
  12. 184550 Guest

    May 8, 2008
    I certainly feel for your wife. I've fielded the dreaded 'Why don't you teach?' question too many times.
  13. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    ironically, it's what I ended up doing too. More so because of the flakiness of the journalism and broadcasting industry.

    If you land a job at a nice university, you'll get paid vacations. :D
  14. nastebu macrumors 6502

    May 5, 2008
    It's a bit of a fallacy that you need to "use" everything you learn in College on the job in order to make the degree meaningful. This is especially true of general education courses. Of course, you'll almost certainly never use what you learned about, for example, the causes of the great depression in your professional employment.

    At its best, College is supposed to be preparing you to be a learning, intellectually growing, individual for the rest of your life, not just a good employee. Ideally, what you learn in College will be ways of thinking and applying disciplinary frameworks to answer question, ways that will serve you for decades. If you think about curriculum in that way--what can you teach a person that will last a lifetime?--it is clearer why a history degree, for example, prepares a person to do much more than teach.

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