College season is here! It’s time for campus tours, getting in touch with faculty or advisors from different colleges and discussing majors and minors with the people around you.
There’s a lot of confusion about how to go about choosing majors and minors in college and it’s a weighty decision that determines how you might spend the next four years of your life, if not more. A blog post on choosing your major is coming up soon, but right now, I’d like to talk specifically about being an Economics major.
As I said in my previous post, I am a B.Sc. Economics major. Economics is an increasingly popular stream for most undergraduates, along with other applied mathematical degrees, such as Finance, or even Business. Unlike these degrees however, Economics is more theoretical and conceptual, with a lot of abstract thinking needed to succeed in the field. It’s all about blending the sciences and the humanities and while reading qualitative stories, figuring out quantitative solutions that work.
So, drawing from my own experience, and the experience of various friends who are also Economics majors, I’d like to tell you about what it’s like to be an Economics major.
- B.A. or B.Sc.? There’s usually two kinds of Economics majors offered across universities, the B.A. Economics degree and the B.Sc. Economics degree. The B.A. degree typically takes a more holistic approach to the entirety of the humanities, linking Economics to various subjects, such as history, sociology etc. A B.A. is a more literature-based subject, with more papers to read and write and minimal mathematics. A B.Sc. degree is more quantitative. A basic level of calculus, linear algebra, differential equations will be taught to you during the course of your study, and more advanced subjects such as real analysis and advanced algebra required should you choose to go ahead with the subject. Figure out your interests and what you’d like to explore as you go on and based on that, choose between the two. If you’re inclined to study economics as you go on, however, know that the math is only going to get more intense, so it is always necessary to have a firm grounding in at least the most basic subjects and how to apply them.
- Keep up: So, as I’ve already said, economics involves a bit of everything and delving into almost every subject under the earth and that’s what makes us Economics majors so awesome. Delving into these subjects also obviously means knowing about stuff well before you’re forced to by projects or essays. As such, it’s really important to keep up with the happenings in the economics and financial worlds, not only in the real world, but also academically. Economics is a new subject and it’s ever evolving; what’s new one day is old news the next. So, it’s really important to always look at what’s happening out there. Not only does it give you great data for future projects, it makes you view everyday life through an economic lens (which is pretty much what Economics is all about) it really helps you figure out your interests, how to conduct research in the field and its history – what’s been done and what’s left for you to figure out. Economic papers don’t always have a strict narrative like English or sociology papers and they’re usually heavy on terminology, so it takes practice to read and understand them and build the stamina needed. This way, by the time you’re made to read them for classes or research, you’re brilliant at disseminating information, knowing what’s needed, where to find it and putting it all together in your way and the best way!
- Deeper than the C++ :
We live in an increasingly technology centered world and coding is a valuable academic and life skill to learn. Though coding isn’t usually mandated in a B.A. degree, in a B.Sc., you should definitely know your way around a computer and at least one, if not more, basic coding languages, in addition to knowing how to run econometrics programs, such as Stata or EViews. The most common, and the easiest to start with, are C++ and Java. Other languages which are also cool for beginners include Python and Matlab. Some really great resources for these are Khan Academy, Code Academy and CodeHS. They’re all interactive, keep testing and retesting you on skills and allow you to have your own fun while teaching you the stuff you need to know!
At the end of the day, Economics is really a subject that’s about more than just “money”, as people believe. It’s about developing your own thinking process, about looking at the world’s failures and successes through your own lens and figuring out how exactly you can make things better and where your place in the world really is.
Majoring in Economics is a journey, as with any major, and it teaches you so much more than graphs and plain theory; it teaches you to look at the world around you and find amazing stories within the everyday statistics that surround you.
It’s wonderful. I love it.
Next Time: On Choosing a Major