Alvin Tanasta

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The 'right' university degree, is that exist?

Hello, this is my very first post in this site and I should let you know that english is not my first language.
I'm from Indonesia and planning to study in usa this fall.

I have difficulties in finding what degree should I take. Bussines or Science? Firstly, I wanted to study biology-related major(life sciences, not medical). However, since I have been hearing all the time that this field has a high number of unemployment both in my home country and usa(correct me if I'm wrong). In addition, it's not easy to study these science-related major since you have to study math, phys, bio, and chem.

Secondly, my parents run a shop here. So If I have a major in bussines-related major, hopefully I'll be able to apply the knowledge to my bussines. If I have graduated with science degree such as biotechnology or agriculture, What I feared the most is that I wont be able to get a job in usa and will be forced to go back to my home country where these science degrees are worth almost nothing. Also I have seen in yahoo edu and some other resources ranked agriculture in the top of most useless degree. Thats pretty strange thing since we have more people to feed and scacer land.

I would be very grateful if you guys give me references. Thank you.

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    Jun 20 2013: I think people should follow what they like because then they'll work harder at it and be more successful. Do you like biology more than any other field? Why? If you studied biology, what would be your plan for work life? Why would it be that a biology degree in Indonesia isn't worth much?

    What would you do with an agriculture degree? Do you actually want to go into agriculture? Maybe you should just get a job on a farm?
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      Jun 21 2013: Thank you.Yeah I'll try to guess the answers. I'm actually looking for a degree which is very employable because some degrees are not worth the cost and doesn't guarantee a job. My passion is my second consideration.
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        Jun 21 2013: Alvin, I'm not sure what you mean when you say you'll try to guess the answers? For example, I asked if you like biology more than any other field? Is that an answer you have to guess, why would that be, you don't know what you like? I also asked why you like biology, is that an answer you have to guess? And so on with my other questions. I would think that the clearer you are on your motivations, the better choices you will make and the more people can help you.
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          Jun 22 2013: You can say that I don't know what I like. I'm just an average student at my school, my grades aren't special. They're nearly similar. I sometimes struggle in physics and higher level math. So it's hard to decide what fields I really interested.
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          Jun 22 2013: I would add to what Alvin said that they way subjects are taught in high school often gives little sense of what it would be like to study and work in a field. and kids typically do not take Business Admin or Biotech in high school.
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        Jun 22 2013: Alvin,
        There is some good information on this thread, and I particularly agree with what Greg says for starters. Studying and work related endeavors seem to be more successful when we have passion, and like what we are doing, so I would make that my first consideration.

        Try to be clear about what you love doing and follow your heart, while listening to the logical, rational mind. There seems to be pressure on young people to decide at a very young age what they want to do for the rest of their lives. I have had several different careers throughout my life adventure and I know it is possible to change directions at any time. There is no degree that will guarantee a job. We see lots of people with all kinds of degrees who are not working.

        Welcome to TED Alvin:>)
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        Jun 22 2013: Well, I think there are sources where you can find out which careers would have the most job openings, at least here in the U.S. the government compiles statistics on this, do they do that in Indonesia? Or do you have high school counselors like we do here in the U.S., if you went to your counselor they could probably tell you what jobs are most likely to provide employment, and they could also help you figure out what you like. If those sources are failing, you could just ask a lot of people what they think is the most employable job, and see if they agree. At first, Alvin, you said you wanted to stay in the U.S. and work. Why is that, wouldn't you miss your family and friends in Indonesia? I would say that you should look into the laws that govern whether someone gets to stay in the U.S., not everyone is allowed to do that and you have to see if you would qualify. Maybe your nearest American consulate could help you on that.

        I would still say not to forget your passion. I guess when you choose a career you have to consider several factors, what is employable, what do you care about. Also, how creative and hard-working are you, if you are creative and hard-working you have a better chance to get a job in a field where there isn't much work available.
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          Jun 23 2013: I don't think indonesian government do that. Yes I'll be missing them very much. My reason studying abroad are to learn more experiences and be more independent. My plan are to graduate and work there for at least 2-3 years so I can get the same or hopefully more amount of money than the money I've spent for college education. After that, I think I'll go back to indonesia and hopefully I'll be able to get a better job or start a business and most importantly, meet my family.
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        Jun 23 2013: Regarding "I don't think indonesian government do that." Well, first question, Alvin, if you don't know what you want to do, what's wrong with doing what your parents want?
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          Jun 23 2013: Well, greg, my parents just want me to be successful. They support every decision I take. They want my studies in us not to be wasted since it cost a lot (everything is cheaper here). So, I plan to gain both work and study experiences there.
          Yes, the US government don't easily allow foreign people to stay. Many indonesian people whom I know go back here after studying in us.
          Maybe I just need time to figure what my passion is.
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        Jun 23 2013: Ah. Well, Al, when you say you need time to figure out what your passion is, does that mean you're just going to wait and see if the answer comes to you? Is there anything you could actively do to figure out what your passion is?

        What do you actually enjoy in life? Do you enjoy going to the movies? Do you enjoy great food? Do you enjoy discussing ideas?
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      Jun 21 2013: Thank you. Biology and business are competely different fields. I have no idea what the future job will be. By the way, you're very well-educated! I wonder how long is it to complete all of yours degree.
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    Jun 22 2013: If you're thinking of employment you may need to consider the cost of getting a degree. In the USA there are many people with degrees that are either out of work or underemployed. Yet, many of them spent a ton of money earning those degrees. It's not uncommon for a four-year degree to cost $80,000. Would you be better off using that money as capital to start your own business? Just giving you something to think about.
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      Jun 22 2013: That would be a good idea. However, I'm thinking to work first and then apply the experiences and knowledge that I have learnt from working to my business. So I can run my business more efficiently. In order to work at someone's company I need a degree.
      I like your idea though, since college education has an very unreasonable price and not everyone can afford it.
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        Jun 22 2013: My experience is that you won't learn what you need to learn at college. I'm not saying it's always a bad thing, but don't expect that once you earn a degree doors will open up. There are many people with degrees (some Master's and Ph.D.'s) who are out of work or working jobs with poor pay. And, you don't need a degree at every company.

        What many schools will do is sign you up and give you loans to pay for your schooling. At the end of your degree program that loan will be a giant hindrance to seeking out your dreams. So, I would recommend seeing if you can find a way to work as you're gaining your schooling and pay as you go. It will take longer, but you won't have a big financial burden when you graduate.

        Before you start, I would recommend finding a few people in the fields you are thinking of pursuing. Talk to those people. Find out what the job is really like. Find out how you get into the field. Find out all that information first before you pay a penny towards education. Many people find after they graduate that the job they prepared for is far different than they imagined.

        You will also find that success after school often means unlearning many of the things you were taught in college. I'm an excellent writer. I've written several books. In order for me to become a vibrant writer, I had to learn that many of the things I was taught in school were wrong. College is detached from the real world. So much of what you do and learn only applies to academia. It has little application outside those walls.
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        Jun 22 2013: Your choice is a wise one, I think. Higher education and experience working with those who can mentor you are invaluable if you have those opportunities. In my experience, many people who have gone to college do not fully realize what they gained from it, noticing only that it didn't give them everything they might have expected. Those who did not go cannot know with great authority what they might have gained from it.

        I am glad you will have the opportunity to include higher education in your learning plans.

        To which college are you headed, if I may ask?
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          Jun 23 2013: My application is still processed by Langara college, it's the biggest government funded college in Canada. I also sent my application to Diablo Valley college in California, since some people say getting student visa in Canada is taking much time. However, both choices are good. I should definetly be studying in one of these colleges in the future. I applied for university transfer program so I plan to transfer at university in my two or third year.
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        Jun 23 2013: Oh, so you are starting in the community college system. That is a great way of lowering the total cost.

        I think it is much easier to transfer after two years than after one. I think many students transfer after two years from Diablo Valley CC to UCDavis or even Berkeley.
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          Jun 23 2013: Yes, Community college is much cheaper than university.
          Exactly, many students transfer after two years and transfer students to berkeley have an average gpa of 3.8. So it's quite impossible to transfer to UC system. They're looking for students with high academic grades
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    Jun 20 2013: There is no right degree, and it is difficult to advise someone whose talents, interests, and situation one doesn't know.

    There is no degree that guarantees you will be able to find a job in the United States. The most popular degree to pursue in the US is Business, because of the perception of job opportunities. At many schools, you cannot simply choose business, because more people want to do that than they are set up to accept.

    Another question is how much education you anticipate pursuing. An undergraduate degree in biology for someone not interested in health careers would probably be a hard degree with which to find work, as research-type work will likely require a higher degree (Masters or PhD) . I think you are right that there are probably fewer jobs in agriculture in the US that require a degree than there are people with adequate background and experience to do those jobs.

    For the United States, the US Department of Labor every now and then assembles a report of trends in occupations projected forward ten years or so. That is their best information based on information they collect from hiring managers and so on what the growth areas will be in the occupations. I will look for a link for you.

    Of course no one can predict with accuracy, and you can expect there will always be plenty of people studying those fields in order to be competitive for such jobs.

    There is a good argument for exploring what interests you and taking courses in the first year that help you determine what you are good at and that allow you a choice of direction. Normally you do not need to choose your major until the end of the first year at the earliest.
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      Jun 21 2013: Pardon me, I'm not very familiar with university and college level education but If I take a course just to determine what I like and at the end of the course I don't like it or the course I have studied doesn't related to what I want, wouldn't it be a waste of money?
      Yes, I also think it would be hard to get a job outside health in biology fields. In addition, it also requires higher degree and very competitive with less rewards.
      Thank you for your long and complete answer.
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        Jun 21 2013: I am glad you asked this, as you are right that the word "course" means something different in the US than it does, for example, in England.

        I believe in the UK "course" refers to what in the US is called "major."

        In the US a course means a class. At the university where you study, you will take somewhere between three and five courses each term. You will be required to take at least eight courses, typically, outside of your main course of study. This is actually required, because the goal is for you to have some breadth in your education rather than to know only one narrow thing.

        So, for example, my younger daughter majored in math and physics, but she took several courses in Latin literature, biology and chemistry, English, Theories of Justice, and I cannot remember what else. Ancient and modern history as well as American history are required at many schools, regardless of your major.