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Six Myths About Choosing a College Major

来源:纽约时报    2017-11-08 05:18:54

        Many colleges ask you to choose a major as early as your senior year of high school, on your admissions application. Yet there’s a good chance you’ll change your mind. The Education Department says that about 30 percent of students switch majors at least once.        不少大学会要求你在高中最后一年提交入学申请时,就早早选好专业。然而,你的想法很有可能会改变。教育部说,约有30%的学生至少会换一次专业。
        Students get plenty of advice about picking a major. It turns out, though, that most of it is from family and friends, according to a September Gallup survey. Only 11 percent had sought guidance from a high school counselor, and 28 percent from a college adviser. And most didn’t think that the advice was especially helpful. Maybe it’s because much of the conventional thinking about majors is wrong.        学生们会得到大量关于选专业的建议。盖洛普(Gallup)9月的一项调查显示,大多数建议都来自于家人和朋友,仅有11%的学生会从高中顾问那里寻求指导,28%的人会从大学顾问那里寻求建议。而且,大多数人都不觉得这些建议特别有用。原因可能在于,许多关于专业的惯性思维都是错误的。
        Myth 1: For the big money, STEM always delivers.        误解一:STEM(Science, technology, engineering, mathematics,即科学、技术、工程、数学)总能让你赚大钱。
        It’s true that computer science and engineering top all the pay rankings, but salaries within specific majors vary greatly.        计算机科学和工程确实占据薪酬榜首,但具体专业内的薪水差距还是很大的。
        “Students and parents have a pretty good idea of what majors pay the most, but they have a poor sense of the magnitude of the differences within the major,” said Douglas A. Webber, an associate professor of economics at Temple University who studies earnings by academic field. He points to one example: The top quarter of earners who majored in English make more over their lifetimes than the bottom quarter of chemical engineers.        “学生和家长们很清楚哪种专业的薪水最高,但他们对这些专业内部差异的程度没什么概念,”天普大学(Temple University)研究学术界收入的经济学副教授道格拉斯·A·韦伯(Douglas A. Webber)说。他举了一个例子:英语专业四分之一收入最高的人群一生中挣到的钱,要多于四分之一收入最低的化学工程师。
        But what if you never make it to the top of the pay scale? Even English or history graduates who make just above the median lifetime earnings for their major do pretty well when compared to typical graduates in business or a STEM field.        但如果你拿不到最高的薪水呢?和一般毕业于商科和STEM领域的学生相比,就连那些终身收入水平仅高于其专业中等水平的英语或历史系毕业生也算不错的。
        Take the median lifetime earnings of business majors, the most popular undergraduate degree. The typical graduate earns $2.86 million over a lifetime. When you put business graduates side by side with those who graduated with what are considered low-paying majors, you’ll see that those who are slightly above the median salary in their fields are not that far behind the business grads. For example, an English major in the 60th percentile makes $2.76 million in a lifetime, a major in psychology $2.57 million and a history major $2.64 million.        商科是最受欢迎的大学本科学位,拿该专业的中等终身收入水平来说,一般商科毕业生一辈子能挣286万美元。当你把商科毕业生和那些人们眼中的低收入专业放在一起比较时,就会发现,那些在自己领域内薪酬略微高于中等的人,和商科毕业生比起来挣得差不多。比如,收入位列第60百分位的英语专业学生一生能挣276万美元,同样排名的心理学专业学生能挣257万美元,历史专业学生则能挣264万美元。
        Myth 2: Women want to have it all.        误解二:女性要掌控一切。
        Women are now the clear majority on college campuses, making up 56 percent of students enrolled this fall. They are also more likely than men to graduate.        如今的大学校园里,女性明显占大多数,构成今年秋季入学学生的56%。和男性相比,她们成功毕业的可能性也更大。
        But when it comes to selecting a major, what women choose tends to segregate them into lower paying fields, such as education and social services, according to a report that Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce will publish later this year. Just look at some of the highest paying fields and the proportion of women who major in them: business economics (31 percent), chemical engineering (28 percent), computer science (20 percent), electrical engineering (10 percent), mechanical engineering (8 percent).        但乔治城大学教育与劳动力中心(Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce)一项将于今年晚些时候发表的报告显示,在选专业时,女性往往会把自己局限在报酬较低的领域,比如教育和社会服务。看看那些收入最高的领域,以及女性学习这些专业中的比例,就可以说明问题:商业经济(31%)、化学工程(28%)、计算机科学(20%)、电气工程(10%)、机械工程(8%)。
        “Women can’t win even as they dominate at every level of higher education,” said Anthony P. Carnevale, director of the Georgetown center.        “就算在高等教育的每一个阶段都占据优势,女性仍然无法赢过男性,”乔治城大学该中心主任安东尼·P·卡内瓦莱(Anthony P. Carnevale)说。
        Dr. Carnevale wouldn’t speculate as to why women make their choices. But he notes that if the proportion of women in fields where men dominate increased by just 10 percent, the gender pay gap would narrow considerably: from 78 cents paid to women for every dollar men receive to 90 cents for every dollar men receive.        卡内瓦莱博士不愿就女性做出此类选择的原因做出猜测。但他指出,在男性占优势的这些领域中,如果女性的比例能上升10%,性别薪资差距将大幅缩小:男性每得到1美元的报酬,女性所获得的报酬将从78美分提高到90美分。
        Myth 3: Choice of major matters more than choice of college.        误解三:选专业比选学校更重要。
        Not so. In seven states — Arkansas, Colorado, Minnesota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Washington — students can search public databases for early earnings of graduates of institutions within the state. And those databases show that students who graduate from more selective schools tend to make more money. After all, the better the college, the better the professional network opportunities, through alumni, parents of classmates and eventually classmates themselves.        并非如此。在阿肯色、科罗拉多、明尼苏达、田纳西、德克萨斯、弗吉尼亚和华盛顿这七个州里,学生们可以在公开数据库中搜索,查询这些州各高校毕业生的早期收入。这些数据库显示,从挑选学生标准更为严格的学校毕业的学生会挣得更多。毕竟,大学越好,通过校友、同学父母,乃至最终通过同班同学得来的职业关系网络就更佳。
        These undergraduates are more able to pursue majors in lower paying fields because their networks help them land good jobs. Arts, humanities and social science majors are more prevalent on elite campuses than at second-tier colleges, where students tend to pick vocational majors like business, education and health. In all, more than half of students at less selective schools major in career-focused subjects; at elite schools, less than a quarter do, according to an analysis by the website FiveThirtyEight of the 78 “most selective schools” in Barron’s rankings, compared with 1,800 “less selective schools.”        这些大学生更有条件去选择低收入领域的专业,因为他们的人脉能帮他们找到好工作。在精英大学里,艺术、人文和社会科学专业比在二线大学里更为普遍,二线大学的学生们往往会选择商业、教育和卫生等针对就业的专业。总而言之,根据FiveThirtyEight网站对《巴伦周刊》(Barron’s)排名的78所“最热门学校”与1800所“不太热门学校”的对比分析,在不太热门的学校里,半数以上的学生选择以事业为导向的专业;而在精英学校里,不到四分之一的学生这样做。
        “Students at selective colleges are allowed to explore their intellectual curiosity as undergraduates because they will get their job training in graduate school or have access to a network that gets them top jobs, regardless of their undergraduate major,” Dr. Carnevale said.        “热门大学的学生可以在本科期间探索自己的知识兴趣,因为他们可以在研究生院获得职业培训,或者进入一个能让他们获得最高职位的关系网,不管他们的本科专业是什么,”卡内瓦莱说。
        They are also more likely to have two majors than students at second-tier colleges, who tend to be more financially needy and have to work, affording less time to double major.        与二线大学相比,精英大学的学生也更有可能学习两个专业。二线大学的学生往往有更迫切的财务需求,他们必须工作,没时间学习两个专业。
        One tip: Complementary majors with overlapping requirements are easier to juggle, but two unrelated majors probably yield bigger gains in the job market, said Richard N. Pitt, an associate professor of sociology at Vanderbilt University who has studied the rise of the double major. “It increases your breadth of knowledge,” he said.        一个小贴士:范德比尔特大学(Vanderbilt University)社会学副教授、曾研究双学位的兴起的理查德·N·皮特(Richard N. Pitt)表示,有重叠需求的互补专业更容易应付,但两个不相关的专业很可能会让你在就业市场上更受欢迎。“这能增加知识的广度,”他说。
        Myth 4: Liberal arts majors are unemployable.         误解4:文科专业找不到工作。
        The liberal arts is a favorite target of politicians, with the latest salvo coming from the governor of Kentucky, Matt Bevin. “If you’re studying interpretive dance, God bless you, but there’s not a lot of jobs right now in America looking for people with that as a skill set,” Governor Bevin said in a speech in September.        文科是政治人士最喜欢攻击的一个目标,最近的攻击来自肯塔基州长马特·贝文(Matt Bevin)。“如果你学的是形意舞蹈,那么上帝保佑你,因为现在美国没有很多雇主在寻找拥有这种技能的人,”贝文在9月份的一次演讲中说。
        Interpretive dance may not be in demand, but the competencies that liberal arts majors emphasize — writing, synthesis, problem solving — are sought after by employers. A 2017 study by David J. Deming, an associate professor of education and economics at Harvard, found jobs requiring both the so-called soft skills and thinking skills have seen the largest growth in employment and pay in the last three decades.        形意舞蹈的市场需求可能不大,但文科专业所注重的能力——写作、综合、解决问题——正是雇主们想要的。哈佛大学(Harvard)的教育与经济学副教授戴维·J·戴明(David J. Deming)2017年进行的一项研究发现,在过去30年里,需要所谓的软技能和思考能力的工作,在就业和薪酬方面的增长幅度最大。
        One knock on the liberal arts is that it’s difficult to find a first job. But a study by Burning Glass Technologies, a Boston-based company that analyzes job-market trends, concluded that if liberal arts graduates gain proficiency in one of eight technical skills, such as social media or data analysis, their prospects of landing entry-level jobs increase substantially.        文科的一个问题是很难找到第一份工作。不过,波士顿分析就业市场趋势的Burning Glass科技公司进行的一项研究发现,如果文科毕业生能熟练掌握社交媒体或数据分析等八项技术技能中的一项,那么他们获得初级职位工作机会的几率就会大幅增加。
        The long-held belief by parents and students that liberal arts graduates are unemployable ignores the reality of the modern economy, where jobs require a mix of skills not easily packaged in a college major, said George Anders, author of “You Can Do Anything: The Surprising Power of a ‘Useless’ Liberal Arts Education.” In his book, Mr. Anders profiles graduates with degrees in philosophy, sociology and linguistics in jobs as diverse as sales, finance and market research.        《你无所不能——“无用”的文科教育的惊人力量》(You Can Do Anything: The Surprising Power of a ‘Useless’ Liberal Arts Education)一书的作者乔治·安德斯(George Anders)表示,长期以来,家长和学生们一直认为文科毕业生找不到工作,这种观念忽视了现代经济的一个现实:现在的工作所需要的技能不是哪一个大学专业能够轻松涵盖的。安德斯在书中介绍了哲学、社会学和语言学等专业的毕业生所干的五花八门的工作,包括销售、金融和市场研究。
        “Once C.E.O.s see liberal arts graduates in action,” Mr. Anders said, “they come aboard to the idea that they need more of them.”        “一旦首席执行官们看到文科毕业生有用,”安德斯说,“他们就会觉得自己需要更多此类人才。”
        Myth 5: It’s important to choose a major early.         误区5:尽早选择专业很重要。
        Why settle on a field of study before experiencing the smorgasbord college has to offer, be it study abroad, a club activity or a surprising elective?        为什么要钻到一个领域里,而不是先体验完大学提供的各式课程,比如出国学习、俱乐部活动,或者一门出人意料的选修课?
        Of students who said they felt committed to their major when they arrived on campus, 20 percent had selected a new major by the end of their first year, according to a national survey by the University of California, Los Angeles.        加州大学洛杉矶分校(University of California, Los Angeles)的一项全国性调查显示,在入校时认为自己不会换专业的学生中,20%的人在第一学年结束后选择了一门新专业。
        Changing majors can cost you a semester or two, especially if you switch to one unrelated to your first choice. To reduce that risk, several schools, including Arizona State University, Georgia State University and Lehman College in the Bronx, have created “meta-majors,” which group majors under a larger academic umbrella.        换专业可能会浪费你一两个学期的时间,尤其是当你选的新专业与你第一次选的专业无关的话。为了降低这种风险,亚利桑那州立大学(Arizona State University)、佐治亚州立大学(Georgia State University)以及布朗克斯区的莱曼学院(Lehman College)等几所大学创立了“元专业”(meta-majors),也就是一个更大的学术门类下的数个专业组合。
        “We have moved away from trying to get students to choose their majors as they enter,” said Timothy Renick, Georgia State’s vice provost and vice president for enrollment management and student success.        “我们已经不再试图让学生们在入学时选专业,”佐治亚州立大学负责招生管理和学生成功的副教务长兼副校长蒂莫西·里尼克(Timothy Renick)说。
        Instead, all incoming students choose from one of seven meta-majors, representing large academic and work force fields, such as business, education and STEM. First semester, students gather in learning communities and register for a block of general-education courses within that meta-major. Programming is designed so that students get to know the differences between majors within the field.        取而代之的是所有新生都从七个元专业中选择一个专业,它们代表着更大的学术和工作领域,比如商业、教育和STEM。第一学期,学生们聚集在学习社区里,在这个元专业范围内选择一组普遍教育课程。这样的课程设计是为了让学生们了解该领域不同专业之间的差异。
        “Students in our business meta-major get to understand the difference between finance, accounting, management and marketing so they can choose their major from an informed perspective,” Dr. Renick said. They usually do by the end of their first year.        “商业元专业的学生可以了解金融、会计、管理和营销的区别,这样他们就可以在知情的前提下选择自己的专业,”里尼克博士说。他们通常会在第一学年结束后选择专业。
        Myth 6: You need a major.         误解6:你需要一个专业
        A handful of colleges, including Indiana University and the Evergreen State College, offer the option to ignore the official list of majors and design a course of study. Will Shortz, the crossword puzzle editor for The Times, designed his at Indiana — enigmatology.        印第安纳大学(Indiana University)和州立埃弗格林学院(Evergreen State College)等大学允许学生无视正式的专业列表,设计自己的学习课程。时报的纵横字谜编辑威尔·肖茨(Will Shortz)在印第安纳大学设计了自己的课程——谜语学。
        “Majors are artificial and restrictive,” said Christine Ortiz, a dean at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on leave to design a new nonprofit university that will have no majors, and also no lectures or classrooms.        “专业是人为设置的,具有限制性,”麻省理工学院(Massachusetts Institute of Technology)的系主任克里斯汀·奥尔蒂斯(Christine Ortiz)说。她目前选择暂时离职去设计一所新的非赢利大学,它将不设专业,也没有课堂或教室。
        “Majors result from the academic structure of the university, tied to the classic academic disciplines. There is no reason they need to be boxed up like that. They don’t take into account emerging fields that cross disciplines.”        “专业是从大学的学术架构中衍生出来的,与经典学科相关联。没必要受这种束缚。它们没有考虑到那些跨学科的新兴领域。”
        Majors tend to lag behind changes in the workplace. No wonder fewer than a third of college graduates work in jobs related to their majors. And picking one based on today’s in-demand jobs is risky, said Dr. Webber of Temple, especially if the occupation is threatened by automation.        专业往往滞后于职场的变化。难怪只有不到三分之一的大学毕业生从事的是与自己的专业相关的工作。天普大学的韦伯表示,根据当前的工作需求选专业是有风险的,尤其是如果这种职业受到自动化威胁的话。
        “I would argue against majoring in accounting,” he said, “or anything that a computer can be programmed to do.”        “我反对主修会计,”他说,“以及任何可以通过电脑编程取代的学科。”

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