Reactions to your Major

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KestrelLowing
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Reactions to your Major

Postby KestrelLowing » Mon Aug 16, 2010 6:13 pm UTC

So, I went and got my haircut the other day and the stylist (or whatever they call themselves) starts with some small talk like they try to do. She asked me what I'm doing, and I mentioned that I'm a college student. She asked what my major was, and I replied "Mechanical Engineering."

"Oh, that's interesting." :|

She didn't say anything else the rest of my haircut (which takes a while, because my hair is kind of thick and long). I think it was partly the surprise of a woman being a mechanical engineering, but probably more the realization that we had little to nothing in common to talk about.

This made me think, what are some of the reactions you've gotten when telling your major to people?

Another one I've gotten is "oh, you must be really smart". Umm, how are you supposed to answer that?

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Hefty One
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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby Hefty One » Mon Aug 16, 2010 7:44 pm UTC

I say I'm studying Chemical Engineering and they're like "OOHHMG WOW you must be soooo fricken smart!!1"

Kind of annoying sometimes, but it's pretty much to be expected from people in my hometown. It seems to be an accomplishment to even make it to college if you come from my hometown. I might start telling people random things just to see their reactions.

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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby cv4 » Mon Aug 16, 2010 8:25 pm UTC

Also in Mechanical Engineering. Also get the "oh, you must be smart", "oh, that must be hard", etc. Then they ask what year I am going in to, I say 4, they ask about graduating and I have to say no, I am around 5 years since I am getting a degree in Geology as well. Gets kind of awkward.

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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby mochafairy » Mon Aug 16, 2010 10:58 pm UTC

I get similar reactions (Electrical Engineering), the "you must be so smart", "that sounds hard!"
I also get the "So, you'll be able to fix my <insert item that has wires here>?", "Oh...interesting..."

I think the most frustrating reaction has been "Really? You look more like a (music/art/English/etc.) major." This is generally followed with something to the effect of "Don't you have to be smart to do that?" or "Isn't that a guy major?" :evil:
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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby B.Good » Tue Aug 17, 2010 2:20 am UTC

When I say I'm going to college to study physics and math they usually say "I didn't do very well in those classes." or "That seems hard."

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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby Durin » Tue Aug 17, 2010 3:02 am UTC

I tell people I'm majoring in Physics and they don't seem to be TOO offput or like "WOAH you're a super genius."

Among my former schoolmates, especially Physics classmates, I got the question, "So what kind of engineering are you going into?"

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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby cjmcjmcjmcjm » Tue Aug 17, 2010 4:00 am UTC

Depends on who I'm with. I'll skip the usual "science is hard" stories and tell this one:
I went to party with a large number of engineering undergrads. When we shared our majors/engineering concentrations, I told them "chemistry" and they all felt sorry for me. I then told them that I'm not a student at their school and they breathed a sigh of relief for not having an incurable masochist in their midst.
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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby Username4242 » Tue Aug 17, 2010 4:41 am UTC

As an Ecology and Evolution major, mostly a friendly "well that's cool!" Then the subject quickly changes.

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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby Solt » Tue Aug 17, 2010 5:36 am UTC

KestrelLowing wrote:I think it was partly the surprise of a woman being a mechanical engineering


Nah, I get that all the time too. No one wants to hear about what we do. :( It's ok though because I quietly laugh at them- if they were interested in this stuff they would be making more money! Just goes to show that we deserve our high pay.

KestrelLowing wrote:Another one I've gotten is "oh, you must be really smart". Umm, how are you supposed to answer that?


"Theoretically" always gets a laugh.
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produced a more reliable product. But sailors do
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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Aug 17, 2010 6:22 am UTC

I've had a handful of conversations that have gone as follows:
"I'm starting graduate school in the fall"
"Oh great, what are you studying?"
"Bio."
"What sort, like, stem cells and stuff?"
"Yeah, maybe, I'm in the molecular cell department, so it might be a research venue."
"...Mol-whatnow?"

Seriously? The word 'molecular' is above some people's grasp? Or is it the concept that cells do things on a molecular level that blows some peoples minds?
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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby saxmaniac1987 » Tue Aug 17, 2010 1:28 pm UTC

"I graduated for Music Education"
"Oh, so like, you want to teach music?"

The response I'd like to give to that: "No I just picked a major in a field that's hemorrhaging jobs because I like not knowing if I'll have money for rent and food."
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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby LaserGuy » Tue Aug 17, 2010 6:54 pm UTC

I've been trying to find a way to tell people that I study laser physics without immediately making their eyes glaze over and immediately change the subject. "I blow stuff up with lasers for a living" has tested pretty well so far.

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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby TheKrikkitWars » Tue Aug 17, 2010 8:16 pm UTC

People tend to go "that's hard" when I say I do chemistry, wheras when I say "I play with solvents and white powders every thursday and friday" they make a sharp intake of breath and step back...

Might want to work on a middle way for that. :D
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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby Adacore » Tue Aug 17, 2010 8:31 pm UTC

I did chemical engineering. What I generally find is that most people have absolutely no idea what that means or involves. Just saying 'engineering' means people assume I'm a car mechanic or something. It's frustrating - most people honestly don't even know that engineering exists. The sciences are, at least, studied in school, so everyone knows what you mean if you say 'physics' or 'chemistry'.

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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby jmorgan3 » Wed Aug 18, 2010 7:20 am UTC

I'm an aerospace engineer, so in addition to the usual responses, I also get "So you want to work for NASA?" It's like they've never heard of the entire aerospace industry. Who do they think designs airplanes?
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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby Adacore » Wed Aug 18, 2010 9:55 am UTC

Lots of people have no idea what 'aerospace' means. They latch onto the bit they recognise - 'space' - so they assume you're involved with space exploration, I imagine. Basically, the whole concept that things (at least big, complex things like planes) have to be designed by professionals before they can be built is alien to a lot of people. I guess most people never really have cause to think about it.

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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby Solt » Wed Aug 18, 2010 10:59 am UTC

jmorgan3 wrote:I'm an aerospace engineer, so in addition to the usual responses, I also get "So you want to work for NASA?" It's like they've never heard of the entire aerospace industry. Who do they think designs airplanes?


If I were you, I'd tell people I'm a rocket scientist.



Although if my attempts to use "trust me, I'm an engineer" are any indication, it probably won't get you far.
"Welding was faster, cheaper and, in theory,

produced a more reliable product. But sailors do

not float on theory, and the welded tankers had a

most annoying habit of splitting in two."

-J.W. Morris

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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby Sir Novelty Fashion » Wed Aug 18, 2010 7:55 pm UTC

"Oh. [tumbleweed]"

and

"What's that?"

Those are pretty much the only reactions to my degree that I get. :P
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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby bigglesworth » Wed Aug 18, 2010 9:25 pm UTC

For whatever reason people will mishear Biochemistry as either Biology or Chemistry. It's kinda awkward explaining that I do both, especially since in practice I do very little proper chemistry.
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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby JayDee » Wed Aug 18, 2010 10:39 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:"Yeah, maybe, I'm in the molecular cell department, so it might be a research venue."
"...Mol-whatnow?"

Seriously? The word 'molecular' is above some people's grasp? Or is it the concept that cells do things on a molecular level that blows some peoples minds?
Perhaps they are just boggling a little at the thought that your entire department fits in a molecular cell. Or at the image of the internals of a cell being used as a research venue (since they don't know what a research venue is, they are mentally substituting "conference venue" which is even more impressive.)
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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby Adacore » Thu Aug 19, 2010 3:39 pm UTC

bigglesworth wrote:For whatever reason people will mishear Biochemistry as either Biology or Chemistry. It's kinda awkward explaining that I do both, especially since in practice I do very little proper chemistry.

Yeah, it's the same thing I get with chemical engineering (a fair portion of people assume chemistry) and jmorgan has with aerospace (as he said, people assume NASA), I guess. Most people haven't heard any of those terms, but they studied chemistry, biology and 'space' at school, and they're mentioned occasionally in the news, so they grasp for those because they're the nearest thing they know to what you're saying.

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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby Briareos » Thu Aug 19, 2010 3:43 pm UTC

"Computer science" usually gets dead silence or musings about how smart I am. Though recently, Google has come to my rescue: "You know Google Translate? I do that."
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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby KestrelLowing » Thu Aug 19, 2010 7:26 pm UTC

A lot of people have misconceptions about majors - for MechE I'll get the "so you can fix x?" with x usually being car. Unfortunately, I know nothing about cars - I haven't even changed my own oil (although I have no doubt I can do that. Yay for the interwebs!)

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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby bigglesworth » Thu Aug 19, 2010 9:00 pm UTC

To be fair, all the people I know doing MechEng could do that. But the uni motor racing club is a big thing for most of them.
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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby Velict » Thu Aug 19, 2010 9:05 pm UTC

I'm double majoring in Computer Science and Business Fellows (an honors program in our Bschool). It's interesting to watch how people react to either; CS doesn't usually provoke much of any reaction (good or bad), but saying that I'm majoring in Business or Business Fellows and people usually start talking about it. Mentioning both seems to have mixed results.

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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Aug 19, 2010 9:56 pm UTC

JayDee wrote:
Izawwlgood wrote:"Yeah, maybe, I'm in the molecular cell department, so it might be a research venue."
"...Mol-whatnow?"

Seriously? The word 'molecular' is above some people's grasp? Or is it the concept that cells do things on a molecular level that blows some peoples minds?
Perhaps they are just boggling a little at the thought that your entire department fits in a molecular cell. Or at the image of the internals of a cell being used as a research venue (since they don't know what a research venue is, they are mentally substituting "conference venue" which is even more impressive.)

Now I'm going to have to backpedal and ensure people that not EVERYTHING is molecule sized (winkwink). Wait, that doesn't make any sense. But I hope you all have the image of a dick attached to a single molecule now.
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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby bigglesworth » Thu Aug 19, 2010 9:59 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Now I'm going to have to backpedal and ensure assure people that not EVERYTHING is molecule sized (winkwink).
I feel less of a dick doing this because it's the School subforum.
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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby _infina_ » Fri Aug 20, 2010 3:06 am UTC

jmorgan3 wrote:I'm an aerospace engineer, so in addition to the usual responses, I also get "So you want to work for NASA?" It's like they've never heard of the entire aerospace industry. Who do they think designs airplanes?

That is what I actually wanted to do, but the Constellation program was in serious jeopardy, and decided to get out of it before I was $100,000 in debt from going to ERAU.
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Although if my attempts to use "trust me, I'm an engineer" are any indication, it probably won't get you far.

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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby nash1429 » Fri Aug 20, 2010 6:51 am UTC

I usually try to avoid such topics when I am not around people who I know are aware of the different scientific disciplines and what they entail. When it does come up it gets so awkward... I feel like shaking people and saying "I am NOT a genius, I just happen to be interested in using my knowledge about the way the world works to design new things or methods for doing things."

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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby kellsbells » Fri Aug 20, 2010 7:10 am UTC

People seem puzzled by mine as well. The usual dialogue goes:

"So what are you majoring in now?"
"Design."
"Oh, like fashion?!"
"No, not fashion. There's a separate program for that."
"So what do you design?"
"Well, I'm looking to get into interaction design."
"...What."
"You know, designing interfaces, interactive things. That stuff."
"Uh, okay."
"You know what, let's just call it graphic design."
"Oh! So like pictures!"
"...Yes, close enough."

Maybe I should just tell people I'm minoring in architecture and avoid my major altogether. :roll:
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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby <nyssa> » Fri Aug 20, 2010 10:41 am UTC

Can I react to your degree by saying I think it sounds really cool? I'm studying computer science, so I usually just get the "oh, you must be smart..." response, but I took a subject last year called Event Driven Computing of which a major part was studying how to make 'useable' graphical user interfaces. What user friendly means, stuff like that. I found it really interesting. I had no idea you could extend on that sort of thing far enough to make a career out of it. That's fantastic. Also, I've just had a nice time reading the Wikipedia article on Interaction design. So thanks! :)

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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby SlyReaper » Fri Aug 20, 2010 11:45 am UTC

The usual reaction i got was "oh cool, me too".

There were a LOT of mathematicians at my university.
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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby Kromix » Fri Aug 20, 2010 1:39 pm UTC

I tell people, Computer science, IT Technician.

Reply: "so can you fix my computer?" (i can but sometimes i'm not willing :wink: )

easier than the previous version i used, I'm an IT technician --pasue-- with focus in Networking and Telecommunications.

Reply: --blank stare--

i think the five dollar words get people and reset their slate....


worst part is when they ask you "so what do you do?"

i sometimes have an itch to tell them i work with packets and routes... but they might think i work for FedEx or UPS :(
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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby kellsbells » Fri Aug 20, 2010 3:28 pm UTC

<nyssa> wrote:Can I react to your degree by saying I think it sounds really cool?
:D Thanks! It's a pretty new field, from what I can tell. We have a lot of upper-level classes that mix interaction design majors with engineering, CS, and HCI (human-computer interaction) majors to make teams for creating cool stuff, and delving into the whole idea of usability and stuff from multiple angles. My school's pretty interesting that way.
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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby bigglesworth » Fri Aug 20, 2010 4:05 pm UTC

Do you have people come up to you and ask why loads of stuff is done with icons when words are easier to understand?
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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby recon455 » Sat Aug 21, 2010 1:31 am UTC

"Why major are you?"
"Math"
"What are you going to do with that?"

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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby kellsbells » Sat Aug 21, 2010 6:40 am UTC

bigglesworth wrote:Do you have people come up to you and ask why loads of stuff is done with icons when words are easier to understand?
Not yet. But my answer will be that designers just really, really like making icons. It's fun.
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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby Jahoclave » Sat Aug 21, 2010 10:23 pm UTC

Mine go like this.

"Masters in English Lit"
"Oh, what do you want to do, teach?"
"No, live in a fancy cardboard box. They come with the degree."

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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby vector » Sun Aug 22, 2010 2:10 am UTC

"Pure mathematics."

"So, are you going to be a secretary? ... An accountant?"


The other great answer I get is "well, that explains a lot."
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Re: Reactions to your Major

Postby Velict » Sun Aug 22, 2010 3:21 pm UTC

kellsbells wrote:People seem puzzled by mine as well.

Maybe I should just tell people I'm minoring in architecture and avoid my major altogether. :roll:


To be fair, "design" is kind of a vague degree. I wouldn't know what it meant.


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