Future of our Children

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Future of our Children

Postby P. Chris Larosa » Wed Dec 29, 2004 1:41 pm

Howdy, I recently attended family gatherings, and as a going on 50 uncle type I was happy when the nephews and nieces said they were going into Buisness administration , or PreMed or Pre Dentistry. I was not happy when they said they were going to Mt Holyoke College @ 40K/y to study English, or going to study biology.

Apparently biology , English and Science are not such hot bets.

Also apparently biotechnology , biology research are not such hot bets. But apparently Medical school and Dental school are. I whould appreciate a discussion comparing and contrasting the various risks and benefits of choosing these few various options. I think it would be of a tremendous benefit to the youngsters who frequent these sites, if the elder commentors pleases steped in to offer their opinions.
P. Chris Larosa

Future of our Children

Postby Dave Jensen » Wed Dec 29, 2004 4:24 pm

Hi Chris,

Good topic for a new thread that should bring out the lurkers.

My opinion is that the person who goes into science is a totally different person than one who studies business administration. (Could this be one of those "one side of the brain vs. the other" matters?). I would wish any niece or nephew well that went into either one of these, whether it be business or science. To the young person going into science, I would pull them aside and like the old-timer in the movie "The Graduate," who went up to Dustin Hoffman and whispered "Plastics," I would say something about making an impact in the field of Biotechnology. So, I guess that you and I differ there a great deal.

Of course, my additional comments would steer them towards an entrepreneurial future in a small company, and away from "biotech" ventures in non-healthcare areas, which are volatile and nasty for careers. (Such as ag-biotech -- as depressing a career choice as you will find anywhere).

What do others think?

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Future of our Children

Postby Kim » Wed Dec 29, 2004 5:11 pm

In reality, many of the so called pre-med or pre-dental end up in the life science PhD program. Most of them do not have grades good enough to go to medical or dental schools. Life science PhD program for them has become the last refuge to stay in school. Those students are usually the ones who do not have plan for their career after PhD and later become bitter and angry when they compare themselves with MD.
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Future of our Children

Postby Bill L. & Naledi S. » Wed Dec 29, 2004 6:19 pm

I think Med School and Dental School graduates will continue to be "hot". But I question the wisdom of declaring pre-dent or pre-med as a major. Each year tons of med students are admitted to top schools without "pre-med" as their major. So why not just go with a science major, take the required courses to qualify for the entrance tests and then apply for med school if it's still attractive after a couple of years of college? If it's not attractive, or if med school entrance is denied, the student still has a basic science major to fall back on for job hunting or grad school apps, without the psychological baggage of having to change majors after not getting into med school.

About that English major...whew! Of course I'm pressuring my nephews/nieces toward the practical science/engineering majors, with more summers spent in internships than in traipsing around the world drinking beer. How's that for an opinionated uncle?

Seriously, every pre-admission visit to a liberal arts campus should include a stop at the Career Center to ask counselors about internship programs and senior placement rates. Even English majors can get great jobs right after graduation if they do some bang-up internships.

It seems like many liberal arts majors flounder around for a years after college cause companies don't know what to do with them. But then most of them make their way into professions and 10-15 years later are often earning more than the engineering grads. Here's a couple of favorable articles on the corporate view of the value of liberal arts majors.

Best wishes --
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Future of our Children

Postby P. Christopher LaRosa » Wed Dec 29, 2004 6:45 pm

Back again..Perhaps any graduate from a top notch college like Mt. Holyoke or Amherst College will be ok. My Niece is going out with a preMed student at Amherst and she is going to Mt. Holyoke, which charges 42K/y as tuition. I am personally acquanted with Amherst, as I graduate from U Mass with a degree in Plant and Soil Sciences. Possibly a bad decision to stay at their but at that age and with no real advisement from elders, I stayed at it until graduation. I did very well with grades, but the program was underchalenging for the late 70s.. In general for the underadvised from the New England area I would advise to get real people to talk to about the their opinions about the schools . I think that the student counciling is excellent, in that part of the country, if used.

The point is for students to use it and to think about being bold by trying to contact people in the field who would normallly scare them about countacting... this message is for the "Silent Majority" who really need to get out there and talk to people .. to develop a real understanding of their fields, prospects, and force themselves to network... basically making acquantances who they might call , write or otherwise contact about job leads. I hope this brief post is useful to the job searchers.

P. Christopher LaRosa

Future of our Children

Postby Carylsle » Thu Dec 30, 2004 11:33 am

This has become a rather interesting post. I would like to comment on this particular thread because I attended a small liberal arts college in Maine (Bowdoin). Upon graduation, I remember over half of the class wanting to be pre-med. I would say that there are a large proportion of students making it into the medical schools after; some will go to dental school or law school. But, the programs are generally there to find the best students among the students there. Of course, there are different mechanisms for a rejected medical school prospective candidates to make up for poorer grades, but some will also take the paths less traveled. In addition to this, the best students are not necessarily going for the MD. There are also another group of students whom are also at the top of their classes and are not interested in medical school--for whatever reason. There is a cultural difference between the MD and the PhD students, which I will comment upon a bit later. After graduation, many students take some time off and "experience the world," but many return to professional schools. I think that the liberal arts college can allow for a student to explore and obtain unique instances of exposure. Moreover, it allows a student to integrate with different walks of life and and different programs of study. In this day, we are now at a time when companies (and other places of employment) are interested in interpersonal skills. With the exposure of the small integrated environment of a liberal arts college, one is faced with having to mix with different subjects and become a bit familiar with different aspects of doing scholarly work. I remember sitting in some classes in cultural anthropology where there were students passionate about 14th century art. It would seem that this kind of environment would be ideal for a person making his/her way through the job market these days and would reflect positively upon the choice of attending a liberal arts college.

For me, I graduated with two majors and directly went to graduate school to study molecular biology. Interestingly, I was asked by some of the PIs at the time why I wasn't going to medical school or to law school, given my credentials. I was not sure how to respond and, indeed, did not say anything in response. Over the past 5 years, I realized a lot about the cultural differences of attending medical school over graduate school. I think that the independence of graduate school after attending a liberal arts college was a good choice and I really learned a lot about the world of academic science. The lessons learned are indispensable and unique to me. I have had to truly take the initiative to be a participating member of a graduate program, but also, because the lab I am in is at a research institute, I have also had to learn to function as a student/employee. The way that we choose to interpret and reflect upon our experiences leads us to make new decisions and I think that if a student is applying to a school like Amherst, Williams, Bowdoin, Wesleyan, etc., he or she has a lot of motivation for life. I am now an interviewer of prospective students for Bowdoin and have seen the spark in the eyes of promising young individuals, whom will be able to find success in whatever they do. Rather than relying on a particular career to direct them, these people think of their skill set and talents and then work to envision a career for themselves.


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Future of our Children

Postby P. C. Larosa » Thu Dec 30, 2004 2:47 pm

So you went to graduate school, yet, dropped out of the academic environment to job related to bioscience but not in bioscience?

So your experience suggests that bio science was a good path or a less than good path.. Please elaborate.

P. C. Larosa

Future of our Children

Postby Emil Chuck » Fri Dec 31, 2004 1:18 am

This is an interesting topic, though I guess I'm a bit unsure of whether your conclusions really reflect the larger trends. I have been looking up data on the career pipeline for biomedical scientists, and more undergraduates in science or technology areas are choosing business school instead of graduate school (medical school wasn't so affected).

There are various drawbacks to the med school route, specifically (for me) the six-figure debt that has to be paid off. Then you still have to do residency, then internships before you get enough experience to be "on your own." The other thing is that most pre-meds want their lives to work like the doctors on TV (reality or otherwise)... with the best resources and technology available.

The reality is if you placed most of the pre-med or med students in a rural health or very poor urban health environment, I don't know how many of them would want to stay in the medical profession. International health is a very hot area, but not too many people want to do it because it doesn't really pay well. (I grant I'm generalizing, so if I'm wrong, just say so.)

But I know that the undergraduate major does not guarantee you a job for 30-40 years. But I guess each choice will be appealing to the right people drawn to them.
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Future of our Children

Postby Ken » Fri Dec 31, 2004 9:15 am

Well, I guess I can comment here. I graduated from college along with my (now) wife and best friend. All of us went to top tier graduate programs. My wife went to business school, my best friend to medical school and me to graduate school.

Just from a money perspective, though there was the initial investment, business school paid off handsomely, though in a job that is not necessarily satisfying and requires every ounce of my wife's time and effort.

Medical school was a huge initial investment for my friend, obviously, and he enjoys his job (he three years out and doing his internships). Moneywise though, he is still not making much, and is unable to pay off those debts yet.

I was miserable in grad school (if anyone remembers some of my posts from the old board), but a month ago was the first time I woke up and was glad to have gone. I got a great postdoc position in industry. It doesn't pay great, but it pays much more than academic postdocs. And, I make about the same as my friend from medical school, though nowhere near what my wife from business school makes. I think I have the most satisfying job of the three of us as well.

In short, I think business school and medical/dental schools are probably the "safer" choices; these schools ensure that you graduate (no small thing considering how many drop out of biomedical PhD programs) and set a course for your career. Graduate school has a high rate of attrition and misery, and doesn't prepare you at all for the job search, nor does it seem to care much about the job prospects of its graduates, but I think those that succeed on the other end can place themselves in a great career position if they do their career homework.
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