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I think I like this campaign for a "more open admissions policy" in business schools, but I am still thinking about it.

Linda - here's a hypothetical to think about. Imagine a student with a 79.5% high school average who would like to study business but falls just below the 80% business school admission average at your university or mine.

What are their options - community college? Or a social science degree, e.g. economics, where they will learn theory and metrics and some econ appications.

If that person's goal in life is a mid-level administrative job that involves, say, spreadsheets or purchasing or sales or conference organization - wouldn't business be a better preparation for that than my economics of the public sector course? Why divert that person away from what he or she wants to do?

Unless you're a business school hoping to build a reputation for quality graduates by restricting who you will admit...

Well Frances, what can I say? In hindsight, if I had to do it over again, I think I would become an ophthalmologist and set up a practice in Arizona.

Livio - Still lots of snow on the ground in Thunder Bay? Still a pile in my front yard, but it's melted enough for a snowdrop to emerge yesterday...

Have you considered that career satisfaction is due to personality types? STEM/Med people tend to skew as objectivists. They will favor merit-based professions that have clearly defined measuring sticks. Conversely, other personality types will find these fields dry and boring and self-select into the other careers. By nature of established power hierarchies, existing members will not favor 'clearly defined measuring sticks'. These are fields that social skills and soft people skills play a stronger part. These are fields where the distribution of winners and losers is far more harsh. Subjective measuring sticks are often boolean. Is it surprising that new entrants are thus dissatisfied?

This dovetails into your surmise that existing privileges enhances the comparative success rate of one entering these fields.

And in case someone gets the wrong idea, these are just generalities. Successful STEM/Med people need soft-skills to and vice versa. We're talking population samples and there's some inkling of correlation between Holland's Big Six domains of vocational interest and the standard big five personality.

T. Chen "Have you considered that career satisfaction is due to personality types?"

This is an interesting theory, and I strongly suspect that you are right, personality types matter. The people who find themselves drawn to the critical theory paradigms common in some social sciences/humanities may have a tendency to apply that critical lens to their university education too. A couple of things that the theory needs to explain, however:

- what explains the physical and life sciences results? Wouldn't they tend to be objectivist, like STEM/Med types, too?
- I'm not sure which fields you have in mind when you think about ones where the distribution of winners and losers is far more harsh. I think Ross Finnie's work finds that the distribution of earnings for business grads is pretty unequal - some business grads end up managing Starbucks, others have mega-star careers. Any winners/losers/personality story would need to fit the income distribution facts.

1. With life(and physical) sciences at the BS level there's one thing that comes to mind. I find that the type of entry-level jobs offered are very rote. That requires a low openness to experience [OtE] (i.e. perseverance). University marketing however, targets life sciences as an 'emerging field' which ironically draws in more people oriented towards a higher OtE and Investigative (on the Holland's six). Modern day guidance counselling based on Holland's vocational types pushes Investigative students into life/physical science. In the real world, actual investigative jobs are reserved for PhDs.

Agriculture/resource fields do not have this marketing mismatch. Entry level jobs there are also low OtE ones. Holland's vocational matches these fields with "Realistic" which won't be surprising for any kid who likes hands-on jobs.

An interesting thing to note is that the self selection isn't symmetric. Kids with low OtE will filter out fields that portray themselves as dynamic. Kids with high OtE have preference, but are less likely filter and will end up in ill-fitting 'dead-end' (from their perspective) jobs.

2. For my comment on the distribution of winners and losers, I was looking at fine arts, humanities, education, and ‘other’ social sciences in particular. Graduates here move on to many various occupations – most of which are not related to their field of study. Of those who stay in-field, competition for the few vocation related spots tends to be fierce. In resource constrained environments, human nature is to hoard rewards to be doled out as fief to consolidate security. The phrase ‘who you know’ comes to mind as do glass ceilings.

One additional thing to watch out for on the satisfaction/earnings graph is that the field averages don’t necessarily map to it. Earnings spread within a field confounds it. Entry level social workers for instance have a median of approx. $47k The fact that most graduates from behavior social sciences don’t become social workers (most other related jobs require a masters) and end up on the < $40k in degree unrelated work.

Without this knowledge, one might suggest that we need to pay behavior social science jobs more. That may move the mean for that cohort, but does very little for the majority of graduates who did not have the means to compete with the winners. In fact, such a response would merely entrench existing members.

Contrast to the high satisfaction for Business Management despite their distribution of earnings. The difference might be that they’re still applying their degree, even if it may be in a smaller pond. Holland’s vocational matches for them even at entry-level jobs so that’s a plus. And compared to the arts and social sciences, I would say a smaller pond is still better than being culled out altogether.

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