As a grade 12 student finishing off my last semester high school, I chose Economics as my major by fluke, or so I thought! For one of my final essays in Social 30, we were assigned to write an essay on Economics, specifically on various economists and how the economy works. The material was interesting enough and I ended up writing a solid essay but didn't think much of it considering I had so much else on my mind, specifically one burning question; WHAT MAJOR SHOULD I CHOOSE?
This question is something every academic high schooler with post secondary aspirations must face. Although the question itself is simple enough, the answer has a significant impact on the next chapter of your life. Like many others before me I weighed my options; Engineering? Kinesiology? Commerce? After a month of research, headaches, and frustration, I decided to take a break and approach the question at a later time.
A couples weeks passed and our essays were returned to us. I had aced it! With the success I had achieved discussing economics in my paper, I quickly chose Economics as my major for the upcoming fall semester. At the time I thought I chose Economics because of my paper, but what I didn't realize until later is that I had been using Economic thought for years.
Economic Thought in Every Day Life
People make choices constantly, every hour of every day. Should you study tonight or go see a movie with your friends? Should you go for a run or finish the book you started last month? Students are presented with the additional challenge of not only making these choices to maintain their social life, health, and happiness, but must maintain their grades and GPA. Add in hobbies, interests, or sports and seemingly simple choices becomes more complicated. When a difficult choice needs to be made, how is one to determine the "best" option?
This is where economic thought is employed.
Throughout high school and my first two years at university I was a student-athlete that balanced school, practices, weight training, and friendships. As I learned how to maintain a healthy balance between these things I began to recognize patterns between my training and grades. When I put more time into studying I received higher grades, and when I put more time into training I achieved stronger athletic results. It doesn't take a Masters student to recognize this relationship, but I was able to use these patterns to my advantage.
I started managing my time according to the results that were the most important to me. When I had an important test in the horizon I would study hard and be willing to forgo a practice or weight session. If I had a big competition coming up, I would study less and spend more time training or lifting. When I look back at the way I was managing my time, I was simply "maximizing my utility subject to a constraint of time" - at least as far as economics jargon goes.
For me, an Economics degree was a natural choice based on how I managed my time, while other individuals may have chosen economics simply because they were interested in understanding money or economic phenomena. No matter what someone's reason is for choosing economics, they will have the pleasure of developing skills that will help them achieve success in all factions of life. Whether they learn how to take advantage of a weak domestic dollar or improve their time management skills, economics is an inclusive degree that prepares students for a world of infinite choices and opportunities!
After telling my story of why I chose economics, here are a couple of responses from our executive team on why they chose economics:
Nancy Krar (VP Academic)
"Almost every time I mention that I am taking a combined degree in Economics and Biology I get a confused and intrigued response. Those are two completely different degrees, what are you planning on doing with that background? I chuckle and respond as concisely as I can: Health. I would like to be a health economist.
To me university is a journey with different paths arriving to similar destinations. I happened upon economics in my 3rd year-before that I could not really tell you much about anything economics related. I was a hardcore Biomedical Science student and nothing could change that until I took my very first Economics class, then my focus shifted. For the longest time I envisioned myself conducting research in a wet lab or applying my understanding of biology to medicine. However, I came to realize that I enjoyed ideas pertaining to society and applying those ideas to policies that could influence infrastructure. I am very absorbed by health economics because medicine has always fascinated me. Simply, how we have managed to understand the human body to the extent that we are able to change so much about the quality of life. Something we do not give much thought to in high school is health with an epidemiological focus rather than physiology. That is essentially where I find myself currently is applying my knowledge from biology to a branch of economics where the focal point is the efficiency in the production and consumption of health. Ultimately, disciplines overlap and a more holistic approach to academia really broadens the scope of understanding the workings of life. As much as I would like to continue my discussion online I very much encourage anyone interested in economics to get involved and find their passions- who knows what is in store for anyone! Also please feel free to reach out, send me an email, and we can grab a coffee! I love my coffee!"
Will Bui (Former S.U.E. President)
"In hindsight, economics was always an obvious choice for me to study but I didn’t know what economics was in high school and I was very concerned with making money. So when it came to picking a university major I picked business. It was a huge mistake for me and my first year was a disaster. I didn’t fit in well socially and found the material boring. The following year I took a career test at the Wellness Center which indicated that I would be enjoy being a Geographer. So I enrolled in the geography program, explored my interests and a few continents, wrote a couple dozen papers and graduated with a BA from the U of C. Afterwards, I got a job with a local oil & gas company doing nothing related to my degree. I was fortunate to have that job and I was good at it but after two years I became very bored. So I quit and enrolled in the economics program at the U of C. I chose economics because I wanted more math in my life and I needed to understand how cities worked. Cities are geographic concentrations of economic activity and I believed that understanding economics was necessary for understanding the problems they generated like crime, pollution and inequality. While the economics program I’ve been a PASS Leader, gained valuable work experience as a summer student at the City of Calgary, served as president of a student club, made a lot of new friends and through the honors courses, earned a solid education in statistics and math that is on par with my friends who took engineering. I finished my Economics degree in April and am looking for work in the urban planning or real estate sector. My largest regret is not having completed an independent research project while I was a student. These projects allow students to become minor experts in a niche fields, signal a strong ethic to an employer and I’ve met many people who attribute getting jobs because of these types of projects. I am always more than happy to be contacted for students for a phone call or coffee."