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Old 07-22-2009, 11:53 AM   #21
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My BA degree was in psychology, and as Ed_the_Gypsy suggested, I used my degree to help meet the requirements to obtain a commission in the USAF. I had a good career. I chose psychology because I knew I could keep a higher GPA than I could in a technical area, and the USAF cared about GPAs more than what you majored in when deciding who would go to pilot training (dumb--but don't fight the system).
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Old 07-22-2009, 12:05 PM   #22
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No matter how a psychology major ends up making a living, he/she should apply the knowledge to behavioral finance areas, particularly in investing. Gerald Loeb, the founder of EF Hutton, made the observation that a psychologist would make a good investor, while "number men" would make lousy ones. I interpreted the latter as engineers, scientists, accountants, etc... I would think a Zen disciple would make a good investor too, except that such person might not be interested in becoming a philistine money grabber.
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Old 07-22-2009, 01:01 PM   #23
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If you want to move to Washington, look up the American Psychological Association. My old group, PsycInfo, hired a lot of BAs for Indexing and Abstracting psychological articles. Or you could work in the Journals area.
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Old 07-22-2009, 01:18 PM   #24
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I would think a Zen disciple would make a good investor too, except that such person might not be interested in becoming a philistine money grabber.
Zen and spirituality are big business! Haven't you heard?
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Old 07-22-2009, 01:52 PM   #25
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Zen and spirituality are big business! Haven't you heard?
What I thought about was the ability to conquer "greed and fear", which the "Zen businessmen" you have in mind likely do not possess. No matter though, if these businessmen can make a buck in their own way.
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Old 07-22-2009, 02:34 PM   #26
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What I thought about was the ability to conquer "greed and fear", which the "Zen businessmen" you have in mind likely do not possess. No matter though, if these businessmen can make a buck in their own way.
Ah, yes. Upon careful reflection and meditation I see you are correct.

A true Zen devotee would have already given away all their worldly material wealth, so there would be nothing left to invest.
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Old 07-22-2009, 02:34 PM   #27
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... I would think a Zen disciple would make a good investor too, except that such person might not be interested in becoming a philistine money grabber.
Good thing to think about while navel gazing. I haven't thought it thru, but the zen guy might forget to sell, needing so little to live on. What would his mantra be, "haul water in up markets, haul water after the crash"? "Chop wood in the accumulation phase, chop on after the crash"?
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Old 07-22-2009, 02:35 PM   #28
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"Zen and the Art of Portfolio Maintenance"

Quality.
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Old 07-22-2009, 03:49 PM   #29
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I have a BA in psychology (concentration - clinical psych and statistical research). I couldn't find a decent job after graduation, so I considered getting an advanced degree and went to talk to a counselor at UofA in Tucson, and the counselor said that the people who study psychology tend to be the kind of people who like to help others and they may be quite happy helping rape victims at some counseling center while being paid close to a minimum wage. He said even with a masters, you become a school counselor and such and that doesn't bring in much money either. He also said that you could get a PhD and open up your own practice and even that starts out very low in the income scale although your income could increase considerably as you grow your practice. This counselor thought getting into Personnel Management (master's) and go into a corporation and work for HR would be the surer bet for me.

Anyway, that's when I changed gear to Information Technology.

I didn't major in psychology because I wanted to help people. I majored in it just because it was interesting. If I was looking at a college as a step toward my future employment, I wouldn't have majored in psychology or anthropology or sociology (which I also considered.)

Also looking back, things I learned in the psychology courses in those days were much more nurture over nature in their theories. We now know that many of the psychological disorders have more bio-chemical base to them than they thought in the 70's-80's, which may involve dispencing drugs that a psychologist won't be able to do.

Anyway, if making money is an issue in selecting a major, then, psychology probably isn't on the top of the list.

Even though earning any degrees will teach you discipline, analytical thinking, troubleshooting skills, etc, etc, it's hard to say corporations recognize them as such. They usually want people with more definite skill sets directly related to the work they are applying for.

But if it was either psychology or no degree? I would definitely take the degree - almost any degree over no degree.
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Old 07-22-2009, 04:16 PM   #30
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I didn't major in psychology because I wanted to help people. I majored in it just because it was interesting. If I was looking at a college as a step toward my future employment, I wouldn't have majored in psychology or anthropology or sociology (which I also considered.)
I didn't major in psych but I also found it fascinating. After taking a high school course in psychology from a PhD psychologist and former college professor, I just couldn't get enough of the stuff. I started reading a lot of psych-related literature (Freud and B.F. Skinner come to mind), and went on to take some more in college. But that was just a personal pursuit, and I figured I should get a degree in something that would be immediately lucrative.

The HS professor of psychology told all of us considering a career in psychology to rethink it. He basically explained that there was very little money in it unless you pursue advanced degrees. He ended up quitting the HS teaching gig to go work for a major educational consultant. As he explained it, it was 2x the salary for potentially less work, even though he wouldn't enjoy it as much. But his child support payments weren't going to pay themselves, so he had to make the right financial decision at the time. Edited to add: I just googled the guy, and since he taught HS, he has gone on to be a lobbyist, exec director of a fairly large non-profit, and is now a direct report to one of the governor's cabinet members. But I took a peak at his salary, and I make almost what he makes.
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Old 07-22-2009, 08:20 PM   #31
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My daughter graduated with a degree in Communications but it was touch and go for awhile in fact they had a dartboard at this bar where they would blindfold you and you go throw darts to pick your major . She graduated got a job and got a master's . Kids are resilient
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Old 07-22-2009, 08:31 PM   #32
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Methinks you are worrying too much. A major in psychology sounds like an excellent educational focus to me. I agree with NW-Bound about behavioural finance, which is a rapidly expanding field. Another rapidly expanding field is human factors engineering. I know several HFEs who started in psychology.
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Old 07-22-2009, 09:05 PM   #33
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I got a BA in Psych back in the dark ages ('69). At the time I was working in the summers at a camp for retarded and emotionally disturbed children that was part of a residential school. I had an interview with the director of the school and he said "once you have a Master's degree we will let you score tests; when you get your PhD, come talk to me about a real job."

I had no desire for that many more years of school and I was newly married. I was lucky to get an internship with a federal science agency which lead to a 32 year career with Uncle Sam (unrelated to psych) and retirement at age 55.

Things may have changed alot since '69 but I doubt whether a BA in Psych is the ticket to a good paying job in this economy.
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Old 07-22-2009, 10:12 PM   #34
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If I had one piece of advice to give to your nephew, I'd tell him to do what I did. Go to a college that was all female and just went coed. He'll have enough fun that when he's in his dotage and living in his memories, he'll have a lot of joyous ones to keep him smiling. 16 to 1 in your freshman year is my recommendation.

Oh yeah, and he should major in something.
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Old 07-23-2009, 06:25 PM   #35
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Thank you all for your reply. Special thanks to those who share their actual experience with the bachelor degree in Psychology.

My nephew is a excellent very good student. Absolutely no problem with math, physics, and chemistry. In fact he excels in those subjects. I talk to him quite often and the money subject was discussed many times. My nephew, like most teenagers, wants to live an extravagant a very comfortable life. I told him (this is before I was aware of his psychology choice) that we need to match our dream with the effort we put in. So, in order to achieve a dream, he not only has to work hard, but also choose the right major. I told him that his dream can only be met with a medical doctor degree (I did not discuss business with him). To get to medical school, he needs a bachelor degree.

I also told him that no one can be certain that he/she will become a doctor. There might be circumstances beyond our control that prevent us to pursue education beyond the bachelor degree. That's why I told him to get a marketable degree with good salary prospect. Obviously, my first choice for him is engineering. Next, a BS in Science. I had never mentioned liberal arts or psychology. In fact I hinted to him that I would be very disappointed if he pursue psych or any of the LArts degree. He seemed to agree with me. And just recently I was hit by the news.

OK, for those of you who agree with my reasoning, help me convince him to turn around. I'm out of idea. What should I say? What could I do?

Sam
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Old 07-23-2009, 06:59 PM   #36
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He will need to figure it all out himself. Psychology is excellent for learning how to evaluate research. It is good prep for going to med school and my SIL went to med school after getting a psych degree. She did take a far number of hard science courses as well.

You should do what you love and he may or may not want to be an MD. Maybe he will change his major (I started out in the hard sciences and changed). Maybe he will find something he loves that you or none of us thought of. If he likes what he does, money is less important. One of my sisters has an advanced degree in drug prevention something-or-other. She is underpaid and over worked. But she loves every minute of it. I never loved my job.
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Old 07-24-2009, 01:17 AM   #37
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Maybe you can show this thread to him?

You could encourage him to explore a wide range of lower division classes / general studies - take all sorts of classes - Finance, Computer programming, Physics, etc. Things I was interested in stayed with me after the semester was over; although my grades were pretty good in all fields, 2 weeks after my final, I didn't really remember much of what I learned in the classes I wasn't very interested in. Things were just not sticking. That is a huge clue as to what you may be good at. In hindsight, at that point, if I had known which field of studies could lead to better financial life, my choice of major might have been different.

I would like to say that not everyone can be happy being underpaid doing what they love. I'm sure some do, like Martha's sister All I'm saying is that's not always the case. I guess it's really up to what one values. (I actually consider her one of the handful of special people.) Also just because you love something and studied whole heartedly, it doesn't necessarily mean you can find even a low paying job in the field in a reasonable amount of time (In the meantime, you have to feed/clothe yourself.)

Nowadays, you hear young adults trying to pay for their 60K-70K of student loans (some well over 100K but hopefully they studied medicine or something...) and I feel for those kids who would be in debt for many many years. (It almost feels like a crime to me that lenders can lend such a huge amount of money to such young people who have no idea how to make that kind of money. That is a HUGE financial burden on the young adults just starting out.) I don't know your nephew's situations - maybe his parents are paying for his education. If so, I feel a little better about him majoring in psychology or whatever interests him.

I wish I had someone like you who gave me advice when I was choosing my majors. Making money with a degree never even occurred to me then. I actually didn't think much about money at all at Age 17. I didn't have to pay for my education. I've never had a job before starting college (except for summer jobs - whatever I made became my pocket money.) I am not trying to make excuses - I am just thinking many young kids are just like I was.

After knowing all this, if he still wants to study psychology, all the power to him.

I remember when I was in college, someone told me that 40% of freshman computer science majors (or was it 50%? My roommate was one of them) at my college changed their major in the 1st year... I wonder if that had something to do with the fact that they had to carry all these punch cards all over campus... no really, looking back, I feel these people probably knew (most likely someone told them) that CS was a good/lucrative field to get into, but found out they were not quite up to the challenge or it just wasn't interesting enough to them. But at least those kids gave it a go to see what CS was like.

Anyway, good luck to you. At the end, your nephew will make the decision for his life for himself, but I think it's nice he has you who try to show him what the "real" world looks like out here and show him the ropes...
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Old 07-24-2009, 08:02 AM   #38
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Sam, I do remember my daughter's college roomie (the one who has been working in psych research for a major medical center) had interviewed during her sr. year in college and one recurring comment the megacorp (airlines, energy firms, IT, etc.) interviewers made was, if only she had about six (only six!) hours in business, she would have been qualified for a whole bunch of positions that apparently would have used her psychology major too (HR, group mgmt., etc.).

So perhaps encourage your nephew perhaps to minor in business to open more doors?
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Old 07-24-2009, 08:15 AM   #39
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I did get a Bachelors in psych. You really do have to go on in school to do much with it.
From my understanding, many with a Bachelors in psych. work for insurance companies.
As for me, I got into sales. Psych and sales go together (according to all the interviewers I remember when I was young and going into the first job). From there, it depends on the skills of the person: how quickly they catch on, how fast they can learn the old hard and true lesson of "work smart, not hard," how competitive they are, etc.
How much can they earn? Well, I made 6 figures when I owned the small company I had. I made $25K in 1974 when I first graduated (which was great money then). The point is: you can definitely make money in sales, but it depends on the person (no surprise there).
Everyone and I mean EVERYONE thinks they can sell. Not.
So much will depend on the above, but so many salespeople get discouraged and then lazy. It really is a hustler's game in many ways where you (as they told me in Chicago when I first started) "slap some sh*t against the wall and hope something sticks." Is this kid a sales type?
Before you panic at this kid's degree, evaluate how quick this youngster is at catching on, how good at manipulating things, how strategic the thinking is, how hard a worker they are, etc.
You can turn this degree into gold if you have the right qualities for selling. Been there, done that.
Now, if this person isn't sales material there are PLENTY of jobs that just require "a" degree. From reading biographies of some of the high achievers in the Wall Street Journal obits, I am constantly surprised at the odd degrees they have for what they ended up actually doing, that is, owning/running some of the largest companies out there (philosophy, classic lit, Asian studies, etc.). I contend that this kid will do the best in school studying something he/she has a real interest in. But that's just my opinion.
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Old 07-24-2009, 11:30 AM   #40
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OK, for those of you who agree with my reasoning, help me convince him to turn around. I'm out of idea. What should I say? What could I do?
You're effectively raising the attractiveness of a psychology degree by campaigning against it. You're falling into his trap of fulfilling his desire to be a rebel outlaw contrarian black-sheep non-conformist, just like all the other college students.

Time for a little jiujitsu psychology of your own: "Well, if that's your decision then I hope it succeeds for you. I'll still love you and cheer you on no matter how stupid a psychology degree is what you decide to do."

Not, of course, that we've ever had similar discussions around our house...
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