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go to work and profit therefrom

I had a hard time deciding what I wanted to do with my life before I went to college. This, I am led to believe, is not unusual. What was somewhat unusual was the fact that I had documentation in my hands from the Air Force telling me that they’d pay a large portion of my tuition via scholarship, but in order to qualify I’d have to declare my major immediately, and it had to be one of the majors that they were specifically looking for.*

I knew I wanted to choose a marketable degree; even though I was even then selling my life to the military, I always figured that it would be a good idea to have a backup skill. I worked it down to two choices: mechanical engineering or computer science. Neither of those was a problem, as they were both on the list, they were both concrete skills, and they both seemed like they could be fun. In the end, I flipped a coin, and ended up a programmer.

It would have really helped me make my choice if I had read A Comparison of the Educational Costs and Incomes of Physicians and Other Professionals, which actually does all the math of working out expected income over a career vs time and money in school for a number of professions. In the end, business wins out.

…I suppose I can start work on my MBA as soon as I get through flight school.

* In retrospect, this is somewhat ironic: once the whole mess of not during enough pushups to pass the PT tests in Field Training finally settled down, and it had been finally determined that I was never to become a USAF officer, I discovered that all the scholarships the Air Force had given me had suddenly transmuted into loans. Granted, these are loans at a minuscule interest rate, but I still would have preferred to have avoided them altogether. I had been so proud, before Field Training, that I was actually turning a small profit at being an undergraduate at a private university, all from scholarships.

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1 Comment

Comment by anonymous
2008-02-24 06:50:58

? Without following your links, it seems to me that analysis is only one dimension, and would only be conclusive if there were no other factors.

In my case, I love programming and am good at it. There was a distinct “Boy Meets Computer” moment in my life, rather like Harry Potter discovering broomsticks. From there, it was pure serendipity that programming happens to be a good career. It meant I didn’t need a “day job.” I could have become starry-eyed about being (say) a professional musician, and typically for that you /do/ need a “real” job in addition.

But there was no a priori financial analysis involved.


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