Why You Want To Switch Your Major To Economics

Why You Want To Switch Your Major To Economics

The shadow subject people overlook
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"An econ major? Man, I could never do that, too many numbers and stuff". That's the most common response I've heard when someone finds out I major in economics. At my college, finding an econ major is like finding a $20 bill in your pocket; always hopeful but never there. Students often pass over the subject without giving it the second thought. Many students who do take economics courses do so to fill credit requirements for other majors, like business or political science. Even more automatically assume it's a dull subject on math and the stock market, with a long period of education just to get a job. Or they think you have to be in the business or finance schools to even understand Economics. However, a lot of these are misconceptions that hopefully I can shed some light on. Here are a few reasons you might want to consider switching your major to economics.

1. Economics isn't only a math oriented subject.

That’s like saying every history class is just about written facts and boring readings (sorry history majors). Economists do tend to use empirical data in order to prove points, but different branches of the field may not even deal with numbers. A behavioral economist might simply study the irrational decisions of individuals in a society, like watching people spend extra money on chocolate sauce instead of laundry detergent. More and more people are double majoring or minoring in subjects like psychology or sociology before pursuing a degree in the field.

2. It’s never going to be a "dead/dying field".

The reality is that the job growth rate for economics is about 6% each year, regardless of our advancements in technology. Computers may be able to analyze trends but they’re not at the point of understanding people yet (Skynet anyone?). In reality, the field itself can never die out. As long as individuals, governments, or communities make decisions on how to cope with scarcity, economics will live on. So will your job.

3. It's not about the money, but it also is.

You should go to college and major in what you love, I agree with that in a sense. I personally find it fascinating to see how communities make decisions facing tough choices (one of the reasons I major in econ). Regardless of our personal interests, we do live today in a society in which you can graduate and not be guaranteed a job whilst having student debt to pay off. Isn't it also important to do what you love and what supports your quality of life? Economists with a Masters degree tend to make a median wage of $100,000 (as stated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2015). I've never heard someone say they wouldn't mind a little extra cash in their pocket.

4. You don't have to go through 10 years of school to secure a job.

Most people graduate with masters or higher to get a more comfortable position with economics. However, a lot of people secure a job in the field with only an undergraduate degree. Also, many schools offer five-year programs in which students can secure their undergrad and masters in one clear sweep.

5. It seems boring, but it really isn't.

It's not just a look at society's numbers; it's a serious look into how people act. Example: If you put three options with increasing price increments to buy a product; consumers are more likely to buy the middle option in order not to feel cheap. To understand how people, make decisions concerning their financial stability and how communities use resources is the best way to creating change in society. You can’t fix a problem without understanding it.

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To The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything
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I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

Cover Image Credit: Amy Aroune

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10 Things Economics Majors Want You To Know

For the MOST part, it isn't that bad.

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I decided to become an economics major the day I started college — I know, it wasn't easy for me to decide. Well, technically the real reason why I even chose the major to begin with was that I was undecided when applying for colleges. I was, and still am, an indecisive person.

When I saw economics as one of the majors at Stony Brook, I thought it was something I was interested in. After all, it was the "study of markets and the behaviors of people in that same market." Besides psychology and philosophy (the two majors my parents didn't want me to study), I then chose econ. While it wasn't a piece of cake, it wasn't too challenging either. Here are a couple things we all want so desperately to say.

1. It's not all math, don't worry

While so many people tend to think that economics is all math and no fun, I beg to differ. As I mentioned above, it is the "study of the behavior of people in the market," so while it is equations and statistics, it is also observing how people treat prices and products.

2. It's not difficult to understand

I don't understand why parents think that if you're majoring in econ, you're pretty much signing up to fail all your courses. If they actually took the course, they would understand that it isn't the economic theory you need to understand, but how people react to changes in the stock market.

3. Majoring in econ isn't the same thing as majoring in business

When I tell people I'm an econ major, they immediately say, "Oh, business?" And then I squeeze the urge to yell in their face that I said "ECON, ECON, NOT BUSINESS." Then they continue to say they know someone that majors in business, and then ask if I know the person. The annoyances then continue. Econ is the study of markets. Business is the study of being an entrepreneur. Totally two different things. Yes, they are co-dependent, but they are not the SAME thing.

4. Please don't rely on me to do your taxes or calculate tips at a restaurant

I hate it when everyone just stares at me when the check comes. I regret telling people I'm an econ major at that point. Because I don't know how to tell them I don't learn how to do taxes or calculate tips in class, that's what finance majors do. AGAIN, not the same thing.

5. I know most of us are Asian, but don't be racist

Don't come up to me, ask me what my major is, and automatically assume that I'm an international student. It really sucks. I have to then correct them and say I'm not, and then have them walk away.

6. One of the prime motives is because we want to learn game theory

How we play games is vital to econ majors, and it does involve heavy readings of game theory books.

7. We mostly won't do econ during grad school

Because grad school is a time where we want to actually exercise our skills, it isn't a time to dawdle and major in the same things as we did in undergrad. We're actually adults by then, and we most likely will resort to marketing, sales, or advertising agencies. At least I want to work at Instagram HQ someday.

8. Our classes never have curves

Finals season is always tough on us because it just means we gotta put in three times as much work to memorize formulas, theories, and math terms. Have mercy on our souls. Most professors aren't even nice enough to bring up our grades or give us extra credit.

9. The TAs are too busy with work to help us

Even they understand econ isn't a breeze, and as TAs, they can't really explain stuff to us that they don't understand either. In fact, most of the stuff we learn in class are self-taught, usually late nights with Starbucks coffee.

10.  We actually hate business majors

Because they have it easy. And they don't need math. Everything they do is easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Not gonna lie, I love being an econ major. But some cons can be too much and it does teach me not to do econ in grad. One thing is for certain though, I love what I do and I don't regret choosing it.

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