Tyler Gross

It's foolish to think the primary reason for going to college is to learn.

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Where you go to school and what you study is one of the most expensive choices you will make in your young life, so you should submit this decision to some practical economic analysis. Any methodical analysis of what to study will yield one clear conclusion: A degree in the hard sciences of STEM is the only diploma worth spending money on.

Science majors are the most likely to be hired and they earn the highest average wages. They leave college with employers dangling $10,000 signing bonuses in front of their noses like little snacks on their way to guaranteed six-figure salaries. Meanwhile, the poor English majors stay just that: poor English majors.

Now, before you say that you don't want to be an engineer or a chemist or an actuary, let's be clear: Getting a hard science degree does not require you to work in the hard sciences.

College is not a vocational school where you are taught a set of skills that you use on your first day on the job. The primary value of a chemistry degree to an employer is not knowing that you can balance chemistry equations (basic shit like that can be taught to an employee). Undergraduate education is all about creating a signal to your future employer that you are worth investing in, and a STEM degree is a powerful signal. Even if you are working in an unrelated field, your employer will see your science degree and want to hire you.

Once upon a time, you could study any subject and your undergraduate degree would be a powerful signal. In 1940, less than 5 percent of the US population had a bachelor's degree, meaning anyone with a few letters after their name suddenly became a good hire. But that was before the G.I. Bill sent nearly eight million Americans to school and more than 40 years before the first millennial was born. Times have changed, and now more than 33 percent of Americans have some kind of bachelor's degree. With so many letters punctuating the last names of millions of Americans, you now need everything you can muster to stand out from the pack—so get a science degree.

This will, of course, be difficult. You can bullshit your way through an essay on Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism while your head throbs and you sweat out last night's vodka. The same can't be said for an organic chemistry midterm. And that's the point: A degree in chemistry or math or biology tells the world that you can focus on something for multiple hours in a row.

Now that I am six years removed from my own undergraduate education, I can easily see the value of a hard science degree. My classmates who studied the humanities consistently make less money and are less employable than those with degrees in the sciences.

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One of my best friends studied physics in college and had a job at an energy company before he finished his last class. His job entails zero work in physics, yet he still got hired, and he is now a 29-year-old with a six-figure salary and unlimited vacation. You read that right. His company gives its employees unlimited vacation. If you study the humanities, you're more likely to find a different kind of unlimited vacation—called unemployment.

So go get a science degree.