The Value of Your Degree

I’ve posted about The Best Job in the World, according to a number of metrics. Now, a new study has been released, looking at the earnings of people who hold a bachelor’s degree.

Researchers at Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce analyzed US Census Bureau data on over 3 million bachelor’s degree-holders who graduated over the last 40 years. Specifically, they recorded the median salaries they earned in 2009; this means that they took a cross-section of people currently in the workforce (it didn’t just look at people who graduated in 2009).

I’m sad to report that the field with the lowest median salary is Psychology and Social Work (P&SW) at $42K (range: $29K to $53K). Sob. Below is the breakdown within P&SW (from The Chronicle of Higher Education):

The lowest is counseling psychology, ringing in at a paltry $29,000 per year. At the top of P&SW is I/O psychology (those who work in large companies, measuring and improving performance and/or wellness). I guess those companies pay pretty well; the pay is almost double that of the poor counseling psychology graduates.

But wait--what are those lowly counseling psychology-degree-holders actually doing? They’re not working as counseling psychologists. Why not? Generally, you can’t, not with just a Bachelor’s degree. Maybe they just got their BA and are now working in retail. On the other hand, you can work in I/O psychology with “just” a bachelor’s degree.

Also, the US economy isn’t in great shape. The data came from 2009, when the job situation was pretty grim--not that it’s great today. It’s possible that some people had their salary cut, or at least not increased recently. Still, the numbers above are based on full-time, full-year workers with a Bachelor’s, not part-time workers.

Finally, those who hold higher-level degrees like a Master’s or Ph.D. earn more. According to the report, median earnings of those with a graduate degree in P&SW was $60K, moving P&SW up to the third-lowest field.

So, did you make a bad choice of major? Should you have taken engineering (overall median: $75,000)? Or computing science (overall median: $71,000). Maybe we’re just all in this for the love of it.

Why aren’t you studying?

The Random Facts 2

No, still no Twitter account. Why? I can't come up with a good name. Is “Sh*t my prof says” taken? So, more random facts (and some questions).

  • First, the Taco del Mar by my house closed, then the Taco Bell closed. What have I done to offend the taco gods? I am currently leaving offerings of money at the nearby Mucho Burrito...
  • never get three dental fillings a couple of hours before teaching a class
  • Me: “What are you watching?”
    My wife: “Um, Keeping up with the Cardassians.”
    I wonder to myself, hmm...Elim Garak, or Gul Dukat?
  • Is a public toilet seat still warm from the previous occupant gross, or kinda nice?
  • Oh, and don’t hold anything over a toilet that you want to keep.
  • Have Cadbury Crème Eggs gotten a lot sweeter since I was a kid, or have I just gotten more sensitive? That’s what I thought.
Do you have any random facts or questions?

Why aren't you studying?

The Spring Term, 2011

I've written about Spring Term before, describing my misconceptions about the kind of students who take courses in Intersession (Spring and Summer Terms), and about their reasons for taking them. This time, a little bit about one of the greatest challenges in taking an Intersession course: time.

Courses in Spring (and Summer) Term last for 6 weeks. Unless you've signed up for a 3-week Spring or Summer Term course. That's right: first day of class to final exam in 3 weeks. I've taught 3 weeks courses before, at another institution. It's 3 hours of lecture every day, Monday to Thursday. Then on Friday there's a midterm and another lecture to round out the 3 hours. It's brutal. Don't even think about taking two of these monsters at the same time. Your social life will go out the window and you'll have to catch up on your favourite TV shows later. It's just go to class, read the textbook, go to class, read the textbook. So, in contrast, a 6-week course doesn't sound too bad.

In 6-week courses, there's "only" 70 minutes of class every day, and an exam "only" about every 2 weeks. Let's compare (labs aside, assuming a full course load):

  • "regular" Fall/Winter Term: 770 minutes (about 12.8 hours) per week in class (five courses)
  • Spring/Summer Term: 700 minutes (about 11.7 hours) a week (two courses)
For me, here are my in-class teaching hours (not counting prep work, of course):
  • Fall/Winter: 7.8 hours/week
  • Spring/Summer: 11.7 hours/week
(Net result? I have to work harder in Intersession.)

The point of all this silly number crunching? Don't take Intersession courses lightly. Be prepared to devote your time appropriately--these courses still count toward your GPA. It's tough to concentrate on the yada-yada of your instructor when the sun is shining and the birds are chirping. *sigh*

If you've taken Intersession courses before, what are your tips for making it through?

Why aren't you studying?

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