Hardest Major

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pyroman
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Hardest Major

Postby pyroman » Mon Sep 01, 2008 1:51 am UTC

Plain and simple folks. In your opinion using what ever source material you would like what is the hardest major?
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Re: Hardest Major

Postby qbg » Mon Sep 01, 2008 2:55 am UTC

pyroman wrote:Plain and simple folks. In your opinion using what ever source material you would like what is the hardest major?

Maybe Biology major because of all of the classes one would need to take at my school.

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Re: Hardest Major

Postby OOPMan » Mon Sep 01, 2008 11:11 am UTC

Phrenology. It's not generally taught and is hence hard to major in.
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Re: Hardest Major

Postby evilbeanfiend » Mon Sep 01, 2008 6:17 pm UTC

notice that no physicists, mathematicians, EEs or chemists have posted here yet. this is because they are all to busy studying for proper degrees.
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Re: Hardest Major

Postby EvanED » Mon Sep 01, 2008 6:38 pm UTC

EE would definitely be up there, as with chem and physics. However, I don't think math would... it's still a serious major, but I don't think it's harder than, say, CS, or probably most of the other engineering degrees. (Depending on your concentration. I got a math major (double with CS), and it was largely looking at the courses I had taken because of CS or out of interest and going "hey, I'm like 3 classes away from a major." The only really hard math class I took was topology. That said, I also chose what is probably the easiest concentration within the math major.)

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Re: Hardest Major

Postby Cooley » Mon Sep 01, 2008 9:24 pm UTC

Sooo.... any biomedical engineering, premed majors here? Hard y/n?

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Re: Hardest Major

Postby segmentation fault » Tue Sep 02, 2008 4:12 pm UTC

chem eng is pretty insane from what i hear.
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Re: Hardest Major

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Sep 02, 2008 4:24 pm UTC

Just major? Nothing's 'hard' to major in, it's just a matter of filling your schools requirements. I've seen poetry majors with the most absurd requirements and projects and deadlines, and I've seen math majors just breeze through their curriculum.

But I know a bunch of MD/PhD's, and dear gods, those men and women are FRIED. You want to talk about rigorous and ridiculous responsibilities to lump on a human being, that takes the cake.

I would argue that any major that requires you to synthesize concept instead of merely 'learn and return' is more difficult in more rigorous programs, and easier in laxer programs. A degree in English from Yale is an impressive feat. A degree in Engineering from ITT tech is not as much.
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Re: Hardest Major

Postby codyhotel » Wed Sep 03, 2008 2:17 am UTC

I guess the entire thing is widely dependent on the school you'll be majoring at.

Personally I would be inclined to say Pharmacy just because its the hardest Faculty to get into at my University, it has a quote of 50 students per year in comparison to up to 200 for things like Medicine, Engineering, or Dentistry.

If we are speaking mainly of intellectual requirements to successfully obtain a major once you are already in a course though, I would probably say an elevated form of Physics degree (ie Masters or PhD)
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Re: Hardest Major

Postby tombrend » Wed Sep 03, 2008 3:34 pm UTC

Electrical and Computer Engineering dual major. I get two free electives through a five year program (Northeastern University, with three six month co-ops).

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Re: Hardest Major

Postby TheAmazingRando » Thu Sep 04, 2008 1:57 am UTC

From what I've seen, some graphic design degrees can be pretty difficult to get. I know a guy who's majoring in it, and besides the fact that grading in those areas can be really subjective (especially at higher-level courses), his major has a final portfolio evaluation. If he fails it three times, he can never get the degree from that school, credits be damned.

I would say premed looks pretty grueling, not just because of the course requirements, but because of the level of competition that's involved in actually getting into med school.

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Re: Hardest Major

Postby Solt » Thu Sep 04, 2008 6:59 am UTC

I can say without a doubt that Mechanical Engineering is the toughest major I've ever done.


Izawwlgood wrote:I would argue that any major that requires you to synthesize concept instead of merely 'learn and return' is more difficult in more rigorous programs, and easier in laxer programs. A degree in English from Yale is an impressive feat. A degree in Engineering from ITT tech is not as much.


It doesn't seem like you're saying anything that isn't obvious. A degree in Engineering from Yale is also an impressive feat, and a degree in English from a community college is also not as impressive...?

Also, ITT Tech isn't an engineering school.
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Re: Hardest Major

Postby Danny_Salinger » Thu Sep 04, 2008 5:05 pm UTC

To complete or to actually get your head around? Completing a Political Science degree doesn't seem particularly hard. Actually knowing what you learned seems superhuman.

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Re: Hardest Major

Postby LikwidCirkel » Thu Sep 04, 2008 7:05 pm UTC

I'm going to vote for Engineering Physics, which is offered by around half of major Canadian Universities. It's like EE, but with more emphasis on pure physics.

Second to that, definitely genetics. Ask a biologist just how tricky it is.

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Re: Hardest Major

Postby jerome_bc » Fri Sep 05, 2008 12:35 am UTC

What about biochemistry? I'm considering doing that next year.

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Re: Hardest Major

Postby lunchbox12682 » Fri Sep 05, 2008 12:13 pm UTC

Solt wrote:I can say without a doubt that Mechanical Engineering is the toughest major I've ever done.


Izawwlgood wrote:I would argue that any major that requires you to synthesize concept instead of merely 'learn and return' is more difficult in more rigorous programs, and easier in laxer programs. A degree in English from Yale is an impressive feat. A degree in Engineering from ITT tech is not as much.


It doesn't seem like you're saying anything that isn't obvious. A degree in Engineering from Yale is also an impressive feat, and a degree in English from a community college is also not as impressive...?

Also, ITT Tech isn't an engineering school.


To be fair, neither is Yale, really.

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Re: Hardest Major

Postby mochafairy » Fri Sep 05, 2008 12:55 pm UTC

I would say that any engineering is difficult, how difficult depends on your strengths. If you don't understand electricity, ee and ece are going to be insanely hard. If you suck at chemistry, bce, cheme, and aae are going to be insanely hard.

As an EE, I am fully willing to admit that if I was forced to major in art, I'd completely fail.

We chose our majors based on our strengths and our likes.
lunchbox12682 wrote:
Solt wrote:I can say without a doubt that Mechanical Engineering is the toughest major I've ever done.


Izawwlgood wrote:I would argue that any major that requires you to synthesize concept instead of merely 'learn and return' is more difficult in more rigorous programs, and easier in laxer programs. A degree in English from Yale is an impressive feat. A degree in Engineering from ITT tech is not as much.


It doesn't seem like you're saying anything that isn't obvious. A degree in Engineering from Yale is also an impressive feat, and a degree in English from a community college is also not as impressive...?

Also, ITT Tech isn't an engineering school.


To be fair, neither is Yale, really.


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Re: Hardest Major

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Sep 05, 2008 4:55 pm UTC

My point was people were bashing non-science majors, and I'd be more impressed with an English major from a difficult program, then an engineer from a... less rigorous school... any day.

Biochemistry is absurdly difficult, only because you are often tested on things that are better looked up anyway (yup, good thing for two months I could draw the structure of every amino acid, that clearly made me a better scientist). I'd say I learned the least in biochem then I did in any other biology/chemistry class, because everything was more interestingly covered in other classes, or meant to test our ability for rote memorization. I'm not very good at memorization, so, i struggled.

One of the most intelligent people I've ever met was a lit theory grad from Yale, and after talking to her/listening to her, babble about Derrida and Heidegger and reading recommended works, I'm more convinced then ever that her major was 'useless' in the same way my old roommates masters in Art History/Philosophy is. That doesn't render her less intelligent (the two of them are way more intelligent then I am, they're just excited by something that's.... well... useless)

So yeah, whooie, quantum physics and electrical engineering, hard shit. Don't assume that just because someone without a vested 10 year interest can't do it, that it's difficult. It's just specific.

(Biology of any sort is the hardest major, duh, we've got to think of things on the widest orders of organization (micro to macro))
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Re: Hardest Major

Postby jerome_bc » Sat Sep 06, 2008 4:45 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Biochemistry is absurdly difficult, only because you are often tested on things that are better looked up anyway (yup, good thing for two months I could draw the structure of every amino acid, that clearly made me a better scientist). I'd say I learned the least in biochem then I did in any other biology/chemistry class, because everything was more interestingly covered in other classes, or meant to test our ability for rote memorization. I'm not very good at memorization, so, i struggled.


I'll be entering uni next year, but I'm taking one organic chem and two bio courses this year (long story short, we have a fucked up school system here so university is one year shorter, but our "high school" is one year longer, so we take first year university-level courses in the last year of "high school"). I'll see how that goes.

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Re: Hardest Major

Postby Qoppa » Sat Sep 06, 2008 9:24 pm UTC

mochafairy wrote:As an EE, I am fully willing to admit that if I was forced to major in art, I'd completely fail.
Truth. The hardest thing to major in is going to be the thing you suck at most. Which will naturally vary from person to person.

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Re: Hardest Major

Postby pyroman » Tue Sep 09, 2008 3:29 am UTC

As an EE my self i would have to agree with those who say that the hardest major is the one that you suck at. My way of comparing these is to switch them around. If you took an art major and had them switch to engineering and had the engineer do the reverse and them and see who has the higher gpa (or if you want you can calculate it based of the percent deviation from there chosen major). Of course then there is business which is apparently pathetically easy no matter who you ask. My friend who had been a mechanical engineer switched into business and all he talks about is how easy it is as he now is only taking 13 credits a semester as opposed to 19, has almost no homework and one of his classes (i forget what its called) basically boils down to practicing using the internet to find information and book trips. I don't know about you but i already use google on average at least 40 times a day and how hard is it to go to expedia.com and click book flight?
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Re: Hardest Major

Postby Axman » Thu Sep 11, 2008 8:29 pm UTC

I'd say that child welfare degrees are probably the hardest all-around. Part lawyer, part cop, part therapist, all rape counselor.

You got photojournalism, where you basically have to be happy to, on your dime, live someplace that's probably going to give you malaria and bullets, only one for which there are vaccinations.

Then there are all the science, literature, and classic degrees that can basically only support a handful of top minds, the rest of which unless you're exceptionally pro-sports good/ lucky you'll be marginalized into academia or work in an industry that is only tangentially related to your skill...

I guess it depends on what you mean by "hard".

For what it's worth, I know a guy who's turned his love of old stuff and sonic imaging into a career as Indiana Jones. It doesn't sound hard 'til you've helped him stay awake long enough to revise his 800-page graduate thesis on ground-based sonar. And the world can only support so many Joneses.

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Re: Hardest Major

Postby tyn_peddler » Sun Sep 14, 2008 1:00 am UTC

I majored in physics and biochemistry with a minor in math, and I've also taken some 300 and 400 level history classes. I'll only rate these fields relative to each other since they're the ones I have direct experience with.

Math: Easy, real easy. It's all completely logical, with one concept leading to the next in a smooth progression of thought. Hardly any studying is required, it's really straight forward, and math is just plain fun.

History: A logical study of an illogical series of events. Lots of memorization, not as much thinking, even when you're "interpreting" historical writings. The fact that you have actually have to study for tests, and just can't figure things out as they come up is what makes this more difficult than math.

Biochemistry: Tons and tons of brain twisting memorization. Late nights studying, beads of sweat and blood on the forehead, the works. There is a logical flow to the subject, but we know so little about the molecular biology of life that we have to teach the historical progression of the subject. It requires a lot of time, but not a lot of thought.

Physics: The one thing I always tell people when I compare biochemistry and physics, is that after a biochemistry class, you know more. After a physics class, you're smarter. Let's face it folks, the smarts are harder to come by. In physics the way you think about the universe on every level is fundamentally changed. You can tell people about conservation of energy and the connection between potential energy and force, but only after you take a semester of thermo, a semester of QM, and two of analytic mechanics do you actually begin to view universe in terms of potential energy gradients as the source of forces. Then there's electromagnetics. Never never never have I ever even heard of a class in grad school that's nearly as intense as undergrad EM (except of course grad EM). To describe the universe on even a simple level requires surprisingly complicated math. Take the calculus of variation. In the math department, it's a grad level subject. In the physics department, it's the key to the universe that physics proffs ruthlessly shoehorn into every junior level physics student's brain. Seriously, I could go on for hours, but what it boils down to, biochem classes frequently take you to the cutting edge of the subject. You're entire undergrad physics experience is spent trying to learn the very basics.

Well, there you have, my brakedown on the relative difficulty of 4 different subjects. If there was one major that might be harder than physics, it would be material science. I only say that because every material science person I've ever met has been really sharp, but I've never taken any classes in that department.

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Re: Hardest Major

Postby Matterwave1 » Sun Sep 14, 2008 3:45 pm UTC

As an astrophysics major, I can say, it hasn't been too hard up till now...

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Re: Hardest Major

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun Sep 14, 2008 8:47 pm UTC

tyn_peddler wrote:is that after a biochemistry class, you know more. After a physics class, you're smarter


Hmm... Aside from understanding the universe from a more mathematical perspective, how does physics provide you with 'smarter' insight to anything aside from... understanding the universe from a more mathematical perspective...?

I mean, you could say that biochem lends itself to having a more complex and robust understanding of life and it's interactions, surely that lends itself towards 'smarter'?

You could say a more critical understanding of history lends itself to understanding the human condition from a more critical perspective, with its myriad repetitions and trends... Surely that lends itself towards 'smarter'?

Here, anecdotally: I've known a number of very very talkative English/History/Art majors who will converse about anything and everything. I've known a number of very very reserved Math/Physics/Bio/Chem majors who can only talk about their classes, and even then, poorly. But surely, choosing ones ability to convey or dialog about material as a metric for 'smarts' is a foolish one, as a number of brilliant people from all fields are simply bad communicators/conveyor of thought.

My point is, your definition of smart is nebulous at best.
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Re: Hardest Major

Postby tyn_peddler » Sun Sep 14, 2008 10:30 pm UTC

When you study a subject in school, it changes the way you think. It really doesn't matter which subject. If it's math, you think about patterns, relationships, and the logical outcomes of relationships. If it's art, you think about lighting, emotion, and the way emotion effects and colors the perceptions of people. If it's engineering, you think about how to build, how to organize, and how to dispose of. People I've known throughout college, I've seen the way they think about the world change to reflect their area of study. Now I'm sure people are going to jump in here and accuse me of grossly overgeneralizing people, but I'm going to have to stick with my guns. Different subjects ask require people to think in different ways, and these ways of thinking begin to "leak" into the rest of their behavior.

My point about physics is simple, of the 4 subject I have experience with, physics requires the most difficult changes, in the least amount of time. You must not only think logically and creatively like you do in math, but you must also be able to handle very complicated systems as well as be knowledgeable of the history of the subject so that you can make full use of the work that came before.

Others will disagree I'm sure. That's fine. I'm just saying, from personal experience, physics is a much harder subject than biochemistry, math or history.


Edit: Iza, I just reread your post and thought of a simpler way to put this. A persons basic intuition works for biochem and history. It even works for some areas of math. The universe however, only agrees with your intuition in the crudest way. As humans we're good with short range ballistics, other than that,our intuition is almost always wrong. The average person's concept of time, space and measurements? It's wrong, just outright wrong. How we tend to think of forces and energy? That's probably way off too. Let's not even talk about quantum mechanics. The physics undergrad experience is all about retraining a persons intuitions. In my opinion, this is much more difficult than giving people a series of fancy definitions they can use, which is how I tend to view biochem.

I really want to emphasize one last point. I am only saying that in MY experience, in the subjects I'VE studied, physics is the hardest. I'm not trying to convince anyone they're wrong, I'm just trying to relay why I think they way I do.

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Re: Hardest Major

Postby vortmax » Mon Sep 15, 2008 1:54 am UTC

i'm pretty sure that everyone is going to vote for their own major, but I'll throw mine into the mix anyway...

Meteorology...at least the atmospheric physics aspect of it.

To get my BS, I took all the math and physics that the engineering students took... then took 4 more semesters of 'atmospheric physics/dynamics' which amounted to grad level calc applied to fluid and thremo dynamics where nothing was in an 'ideal' environment.

Enter grad school. Advanced courses in EM theory (radar meteorology) numerical methods and algorithm design (computer modeling). Even delved into neural-network processing, non-linear dynamical systems, and advanced numerical method design...all of which were audited courses to accompany my normal coursework.

Now I'm signed up for PhD work in cloud microphysics studying the effects of microscale turbulence on size distributions of cloud drops.

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Re: Hardest Major

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Sep 15, 2008 2:03 am UTC

tyn_peddler wrote:When you study a subject in school, it changes the way you think. It really doesn't matter which subject.


I don't disagree, I'm just trying to point out for the sake of discussion that understanding the physical universe is no more or less useful then understanding the biological interactions around you, or the human world of politics/history, or the subjective world of art, or the... you see where I'm going with this?

One cool thing about being alive today is our ability to access hyper specific sets of knowledge. Vortmax is getting a PhD in cloud dynamics? Thats cool as hell, and pretty esoteric. I bet a ton of people could chime in with various esoteric, complicated things they are studying, and I would personally hesitate to claim that any one branch of hyperspecific knowledge is more or less 'smart' then another.

Also, biology is coolest
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Re: Hardest Major

Postby tyn_peddler » Mon Sep 15, 2008 3:13 am UTC

Remember, I said of the subjects I had studied I thought physics was the hardest. And I'm going to have to hold my ground here, although I might be convinced that biochemistry is more immediately useful that physics, it doesn't change the fact that physics is much more difficult.

Vortmax, that does sound pretty difficult, but I can't really comment on it's difficulty since I've never studied that subject. It does sound like what you're doing is a subset of physics though. What we need now is a atmospheric physics/physics major :mrgreen:
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Re: Hardest Major

Postby Cooley » Mon Sep 15, 2008 4:29 am UTC

I've been reading about some CEOs and heads of business lately (Jobs, Gates, and Gerstner, specifically). It seems like really high level business is super hard, perhaps even harder than really high level physics. So, is business a hard major?

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Re: Hardest Major

Postby mochafairy » Mon Sep 15, 2008 4:52 am UTC

[imath]\displaystyle\lim_{GPA\to\ 0}\ engineering = business[/imath]
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Re: Hardest Major

Postby Korandder » Mon Sep 15, 2008 5:03 am UTC

My physics student socitey made tshirts that said [math]\lim_{GPA \rightarrow 0} BSc = BA[/math]

I can say that a physics and astronomy major is both the easiest and the most difficult major I have ever done. Astronomy classes tend to be easier though.
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Re: Hardest Major

Postby Cooley » Mon Sep 15, 2008 5:05 am UTC

mochafairy wrote:[imath]\displaystyle\lim_{GPA\to\ 0}\ engineering = business[/imath]


Don't get it, lack the requisite calculus. :?

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Re: Hardest Major

Postby mochafairy » Mon Sep 15, 2008 5:09 am UTC

basically, as people fail out of engineering, they switch over to be business majors.

what the math says is that as your GPA goes to 0 if you're an engineer = business major.
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Re: Hardest Major

Postby Cooley » Mon Sep 15, 2008 5:37 am UTC

Well, I think business majors are getting a bum rap, then. Like it was said before in this thread, it depends on where you take your major.

Then again, to date I have no experience with the changing of one's college major, so maybe it is true. :|

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Re: Hardest Major

Postby Voidpointer » Wed Sep 17, 2008 9:17 pm UTC

segmentation fault wrote:chem eng is pretty insane from what i hear.


I knew somebody who was in ChemEng while my friends and I were doing CS/EE/CpE (a various spread throughout our group). We used to moan about how hardcore we were putting in 20-30 hour weekends working on projects; the ChemEng would usually greet us as we went in and as we left ... I'm pretty sure she was just living inside one of the laboratories in the research center, because it would be indescribably unholy to spend that much time learning chemistry.
Disclaimer: If you like chemistry, no offense intended. But you're still completely nuts.

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Re: Hardest Major

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Sep 19, 2008 5:34 am UTC

I don't understand this obsession with 'masochism bragging'. Ooooh, i put in 6 hours a DAY at the library, I'm SUUUUUCH a hard worker.

That to me is not an accomplishment, but an admission of either not managing your time well, or not getting what you're studying. Work hard, yes, but if you can't balance a life in that, you've not done anything impressive.
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Re: Hardest Major

Postby stardust » Fri Sep 19, 2008 6:33 am UTC

It all depends on where you excel and what you understand. Some people are really comfortable with math, some with chem and bio, some with liberal arts, some with fine arts, some people can't handle them. That said, I think most people could get through a psych or sociology major without doing a great deal work (that's not to say that people don't, but it's not necessary.)

I've found that, depending on the professor of course, that it's really easy to bullshit through a philosophy course, even some high level ones (and my school is one of the top 3 or 4 philosophy departments in the country), just by being able to write a decent paper. The difference between a A and an B is the difference between going to every class and reading and comprehending all the material and skipping class, only doing the absolutely required reading and banging out papers that sound nice but are largely fluff. In fact, I think the most work I've done was in the Intro.

Math, on the other hand, I bullshat my way up through calc 3 and then really had some problems in Calc 4. Don't know how much further I'll make it there. CS much the same, the first few intro classes were a joke, so I did well but didn't actually learn anything, and then was even more royally fucked.

I wish I hadn't, I now try to force myself to just learn everything I can from a class, regardless of the effort to grade ratio.

Still though, I think Music would be the toughest for me. Those kids (at least the ones I know) often spend the same kind of insane amount of times as the super-hard science majors practicing and playing in multiple bands/ensembles. Plus you've got to be well more than competent to even get in such a program. And it's not something everyone *can* learn.

Voidpointer
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Re: Hardest Major

Postby Voidpointer » Fri Sep 19, 2008 11:39 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:I don't understand this obsession with 'masochism bragging'. Ooooh, i put in 6 hours a DAY at the library, I'm SUUUUUCH a hard worker.

That to me is not an accomplishment, but an admission of either not managing your time well, or not getting what you're studying. Work hard, yes, but if you can't balance a life in that, you've not done anything impressive.


It is poor time management, on a pretty excessive level. But sometimes scheduling conflicts force that kind of thing on you. I meant the boasting more in jest than anything, we did that 20-30 on the weekend and then didn't touch the project for the most part the rest of the week because none of us had concurrent open time slots. And clearly the ChemE did way more work than us, she was doing her projects solo for the most part, and she STILL had to work through the weekends.

stardust wrote:bullshit through a philosophy course


Symbolic Logic ftw :o

stardust wrote:Still though, I think Music would be the toughest for me. Those kids (at least the ones I know) often spend the same kind of insane amount of times as the super-hard science majors practicing and playing in multiple bands/ensembles. Plus you've got to be well more than competent to even get in such a program. And it's not something everyone *can* learn.


I played for a number of years in middle/high school. Then it came time to actually learn music theory, which was like trying to decipher hieroglyphs for me. Differential calculus? No problem. Music theory? I could not learn jazz improv theory to save my life (improv is obviously a lot more, but I couldn't even get the theory). :(

Cooley
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Re: Hardest Major

Postby Cooley » Sat Sep 20, 2008 3:47 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:I don't understand this obsession with 'masochism bragging'. Ooooh, i put in 6 hours a DAY at the library, I'm SUUUUUCH a hard worker.

That to me is not an accomplishment, but an admission of either not managing your time well, or not getting what you're studying. Work hard, yes, but if you can't balance a life in that, you've not done anything impressive.
Some part of it might be poor time management. But some times it just is that hard. And the masochism bragging is a competitive thing, that's all. I blame evolutionDarwin. :lol:


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