Wednesday, September 4, 2013


On this page: Business, Engineering, Health Care, High Tech, Philosophy Majors, Undecided, Theatre/Dance/Music.
No idea what to  major in? This site has great resources. Or start here. Try this. How about this to generate ideas? Take an interest inventory here and pay for a great one here.
Want to make $? This NPR graph offers the highest paying majors. Guess which one tops the charts? Another great article here, on the careers of the future and where the jobs will be once you graduate college.

Business Majors:
Fairfield University reports in April 2008 it is more difficult to gain admission to their business program. You will need to be on the higher end of their SAT and GPA ranges. (based on personal conversation with admissions rep). You'll need good math grades especially, and the SAT or ACT math score should be strong.

Engineering Majors
I wish more girls would consider engineering. Do you have to LOVE math and science? Not really. Your desire to “make a difference” is more important, as engineers do just that. Only 20% of the engineering degrees go to women, and Maine needs engineers. An engineering professor at UMO said “girls have the right stuff” to become engineers and “Maine needs more engineers”. Engineers make a world of difference and it’s a great major if you want to ‘save the world’. Think about inventing devices for pollution reduction, water supply protection, cleaner drinking water. If you are worried about the math you’ve taken (or not taken) in high school, consider Engineering Technology as a major, where you only need to be ready for precalc at UMO. You’ll need 500 CR and 550 Math SAT scores to get in, and be a creative type, perhaps an artist. Want to know job prospects & salaries? This site has those facts & more.
Great article in the Christian Science Monitor about the rise in engineering majors:
A couple websites provide lots of info about engineering careers:

Health Care Majors
(from Bob Pecchia, UNE Admissions, at NEACAC conference May 2009)
Not Just Doctors and Nurses!
Sure, you can major in a direct care profession, like doctor, nurse, pharmacy, nutrition, physical therapy, occupational therapy, exercise science, EMT. What about a PT assistant? It requires less education than PT, which requires a doctoral level degree! But you can’t easily go from being a PTA to a PT due to the differences in degree programs. (one is theory and one is hands-on). You could spend one year in school to become a dental assistant, or 3 years in college to become a dental hygienist. How about veterinary work? You could be a vet tech, or a vet. Guess which one requires more schooling? Same with pharmacy and pharm tech.
There are also lots of other ways to work in health care that don’t directly deal with patients:
  • clinical lab
  • radiology
  • biomedical engineering
  • information technology
  • human resources
  • accounting
  • health information management
  • medical coding
  • patient accounts, billing
The problem with majoring in nursing is that there are not enough nursing instructors to expand the programs at colleges where interest is so high. Therefore, securing a spot in a nursing program is super competitive.
The other problem with nursing majors is if you don’t test well. You need to become a better test taker because getting good SAT and ACT scores gets you into college, yes, but you have to take more tests to get certified! (to get into UNE’s nursing program: nothing under 500 CR and 500 Math).

Showing that you are interested in health care makes a difference. Colleges want to know that you have explored this career. Do you have a job in the field? Do you volunteer at a hospital or nursing home? Have you become an EMT, CNA?

Here are some details about certain health care majors:
  • Nursing: is the program direct entry or do you have to apply as a college sophomore, having done well in certain courses like Anatomy & Physiology?
  • DPT is a 7 year program. At UNE, it is a 4+3 program. See all the colleges that offer PT.
  • OT is a 5 year masters level program
  • PharmD can be a 2+4 degree where you get a certain PCAT score sophomore year to stay in the program. You better be a good test taker!
  • Med School: usually students get a 4 year bachelors degree and apply to med school.
High Tech Majors
(or “what I learned at Purdue, summer of 2009″)
Please, consider majoring in a high tech field!! Job prospects are excellent, pay is great, and there’s something for everyone. Case in point: love theatre? Think you want to major in theatre but are worried about getting a job after graduation? How about technical theatre? The behind the scenes people involved in theatre like stage managers, business managers, advertising, all say that their job appeals to both their right brain and left brain: artistic and analytical skills. A high tech major does NOT have to be boring, or for men only!
3D Animation
this might be a more traditional high tech major, but it attracts creative types. the Dept of Computer Graphics Technology at Purdue is a fun place. Students create stories and characters, then model the on a storyboard that is sketched out in black and white. (you see that on the ‘extras’ portion of DVDs) They are using AutoDesk for their animation suite. Students spend hours on the computer adding texture to their characters. We looked at what it took to make a green lizard move his arms and make him talk. These programmers also made a difference: the lizard uses sign language to teach math & science. They also do character rigging: a skeleton of the character, and a class in anatomy helps. The major attracts students who have right brain and left brain talents, not just one.
Also, some companies use computer animation to train their workers; otherwise, the real thing is too dangerous. If you are a people person in addition to a 3D person, you could get into the education & training side of 3D graphics.
Mechanical Engineering Technology
How do you make creatures move? CAD software. How do you manufacture a guitar or a chair? You program the machine that follows your directions to create that product. MET is a very hands-on major, and not just on the computer all the time.  You code the robot to tell it to move, and sensors tell the robot when to do things. You tell the tool where to cut, and how much, and you just made a wooden pocket. We saw a machine that picks up jelly beans based on recipes programmed by students. For example, a French Vanilla mouthful was 4 coffee bean jelly beans and 3 vanilla jelly beans. Put that in your mouth and you have French Vanilla! The machine was also programmed to put the beans in a cup, and put a lid on the cup.
Health Care & High Tech
  • Computer are everywhere, and info technology supports health care in new ways every day. Genetic research and aging of the world’s population are 2 areas of interest to many researchers. Japan has the most old people, followed by the U.S.  How do we ensure a good quality of life & safe living conditions at home? In rural areas, doctors are logging on and looking at the vital signs of patients who are hours away, all through remote sensors and monitoring.  “Tele Home Care” combines your interest in computers and people.
  • Molecular Pharmacology is a new field, figuring out how drugs react based on your genetic makeup. Drug interactions are also a hot field. Now, software at your drug store could take your genetic makeup and estimate side effects of a drug you’ve been prescribed. This combines your interest in helping people and technology.
  • Medication Misuse is a drug problem: people don’t take their meds when they must, and take the wrong dosage. Two Purdue graduates used technology to design a solution. They use audible and visual reminders and alerts and now want to sell their product to the drug companies and pharmacies. The product is a customized pill bottle that clips on.
  • Kelly worked at Johnson & Johnson making hip & knee replacement with CAD software. Talk about making a difference! She lived in Brazil for 4 years managing II teams for Kellogg, loved Latin America, and learned Spanish and Portuguese. She moved up in the company to become Director of IT and later, CIO (Chief Information Officer). She loved working on teams, the flexibility in her job to do different things, using her problem solving and leadership skills, and fine tuning her communication skills. Kelly majored in Computer Info Tech at Purdue. A new project she’s working on is standardizing software for the 67 manufacturing plants around the world, instead of having 67 different versions of similar software. This new project required her to brush up on supply chain management, logisitics, and finance.
Entrepreneurs with an info technology background can write their own ticket! Create your own business to respond to newly emerging tech challenges. Here are a few that I met at Purdue:
  • Kyle was a software engineer at large companies and became a professor at Purdue. Now he makes customized software for small companies. He listens to what they need, and designs a product just for them.
  • Matt graduated with a computer info tech degree in 2005. He now is the bridge between IT staff and the companies they work for. Some IT staffers don’t interact well with others who are not in their field, so he translates.
  • Louise is a computer science major and a math minor. She was a programmer at Bell but it was too techy and not enough fun. Now she trains people to use info technology. She uses her business skills to run her own business, her people skills to train, and her IT skills to stay up with the latest developments. Not boring any more!
  • Lisa majored in chemical engineering. She worked with manufactured products like RoundUp and antifreeze. She was an automation engineer who wrote the code that mixes the chemicals, agitates them, runs the motor. Now she runs a Monster Mini Golf place (indoor glow in the dark!) and just began franchising the brand. She learned how to harness the internet and social networking to grow the business and advertise effectively to busy families.
Cyber Forensics is a growing field and very popular among CSI fans. The obvious use of computers in solving crime: DNA tests, databases of criminals Amber alerts. Like psychology? Behavioral science? Criminal profiling? Hunting down the personality traits of certain offenders? Putting internet predators in jail? Those careers also involve info technology, and the tech improves at an alarming rate.
  • We met Ann, who wanted to be a cop but stayed at Purdue after she graduated  so she could make a difference in her community but still be in law enforcement. She majored in psychology and law, got her masters in forensic psych, and is now working on her PhD which is pretty much required to work in the field. She researched the little known crime of women involved in child porn, and shed light on who they are (hedonistic) and are not (neurotic).
  • Eric teaches computer forensics to law enforcement in Boston. They use GPS on cell phones to figure out where people are and who you are speaking with.  We examined the $2,000 forensics suitcase and got to play with the equipment. We used special software to find all the files that were deleted on a confiscated laptop. (Files don’t get deleted, just moved) A serial killer in the midwest (BTK Killer) sent a floppy disk to police and they could tell which computer it was from and where (his church). Eric has 2-year degree in electrical engineering and a bachelors in Informatics. He loves the job because it’s interesting, he makes a difference, and he gets to travel.
Philosophy Majors:
interesting article in the NY Times on the increase in number of students majoring in philosophy. The article also lists the top colleges for undergraduate study. Here’s a clipping:
“Some schools with established programs like Texas A&M, Notre Dame, the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, now have twice as many philosophy majors as they did in the 1990s.”
Undecided This is the most popular major! Do not worry if you are undecided.  You’ll get to sample a variety of courses as a freshman and it may be that one will spark your interest. Some colleges even have special programs that will help you figure out what would be the best major for you. UMO, for example, has  “Explorations“, with extra advising and help crafting a schedule that includes a variety of subjects.

What’s Your Passion?
  • A June 2008 Boston Globe article advises ”adults should help young people understand that work is what they will do every day. She’s had students, for example, who wanted to become lawyers without ever having been in a law office or really understanding what the job entails.” 
  • My advice is to explore a possible career by job shadowing, getting a job, or volunteering in that field. Not only can you explain to colleges why you want to major in that field, but you have done the necessary ‘homework’ in exploring for yourself. This is a 'must' for nursing, PT and engineering majors.
Theatre/Music/Dance major? Check out this site.

links verified 3/2015

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