If you are thinking of choosing a statistics major then you might be wondering whether or not it is a good major to choose.
This post will show you whether or not statistics is a good major and some things that you should consider.
So, is statistics a good major? Data focused majors such as statistics are highly in demand right now especially if you combine it with computer science classes. However, it can be a challenging major and many of the jobs, in statistics, require a master’s degree.
There are many pros and cons to getting a statistics degree and there are a number of things to consider when deciding on getting one.
It is one of the more difficult majors
Statistics is classed as a STEM major. Data shows that 35% of those who initially choose a STEM major switch out of the major within three years.
The reason for this is likely to be that STEM majors tend to be challenging majors. Students that did well in these majors, in high school, might expect more of the same but then change majors when they realize that it is harder than they thought it would be.
The statistics that you did in high school probably didn’t require many math prerequisites. However, a statistics degree will make use of a lot of mathematics including single and multivariable calculus, linear algebra and discrete mathematics.
With that being said, many people choose to take statistics over a math degree itself. According to the NCES a math major has a drop-rate of 52% which is the highest of all the STEM degrees. The reason that people drop statistics less is likely to be that statistics is more applied and less proof-heavy at the undergraduate level.
How difficult it will be for you will depend on a number of factors
If you have already taken a lot of math and statistics in high school then you will be more likely to do well in a statistics major.
Whereas, if you did not study much math or statistics in high school and you have not taken classes such as calculus then you will have a lot more work to do.
With that being said, even if you do not feel very well prepared for it you can still make up for it by studying more. As long as you satisfy the prerequisites for a class it will be possible for you to do well in it provided that you study enough.
It’s also important to consider your level of interest in the subject. If you enjoy using data to make predictions, working with numbers and you don’t get frustrated when you’re struggling with a problem then you’ll probably do well in statistics.
Whereas, if you get frustrated by difficult math problems quickly then you will probably not enjoy statistics so much either.
One more thing to consider is the college that you go to. If you go to a highly selective college then you will likely find the statistics classes to be harder since you’ll be going through the material more quickly and there will be more advanced stats classes on offer.
With that being said, stats classes can be difficult at colleges with open admissions policies as well mainly depending on the professor teaching the class.
Most of your statistics classes will not start until your junior year
Something to consider is that many of your statistics classes will not actually start until your junior year.
This is because there are a number of mathematical prerequisites to start learning statistics in detail. To start learning statistics in a mathematical way, you will need to know single and multivariable calculus, linear algebra and discrete mathematics. You will also need to learn programming in order to do many of the higher-level stats classes.
This means that many of the classes that you will be taking within the major requirements will not actually be statistics classes. This does mean that you will get the opportunity to explore other disciplines and that the major will open you up to a number of different possible paths.
Some classes will require proofs
Proofs are where you must show something to be the case using mathematical logic. Many students do not enjoy doing proofs since they can be much more difficult than what they are used to.
Some statistics classes, such as mathematical statistics, will require you to prove things. It would be worthwhile for you to make sure that you take an intro to proofs class in your freshman or sophomore year in order to prepare yourself for any of the proof-based classes.
With that being said, most undergraduate statistics classes do not ask many proofs and the ones that do are not usually very difficult compared to proof-based math classes such as real analysis.
It will require a lot of work
Statistics is a degree that will require a lot of work. Some of the concepts can be difficult to understand at first and there tends to be a lot of homework that gets set. This means that you will need to put a reasonable amount of effort in outside of class time.
Statistics is one of the highest paying degrees
Currently, majors that deal with a lot of data are highly in demand right now and statistics prepares you will for these jobs.
The jobs that you can get in statistics tend to be very well paying and, according to Payscale, the average pay for someone with a statistics bachelor’s degree is $68,000.
Types of jobs that a statistics degree will open you up to
There are a number of different jobs that you can get with a statistics degree which can include:
- Data scientist
- Data analyst
- Financial planner
- Software engineering
- Investment banking
However, something to consider is that many of these jobs will require a master’s degree as opposed to just a bachelor’s degree. In addition to that, it will often be necessary for you to have knowledge of that particular job in addition to the statistics degree. For example, a job in software engineering will require knowledge of computer science algorithms.
This means that in addition to satisfying your major requirements it would be helpful to take electives in the field that you want to enter and to get summer internships in that field as well.
If you are thinking of getting a statistics degree then there are a number of alternative degrees that you might want to consider as well including:
- Computer science
Ways to make a statistics degree easier
If you do decide to get a statistics degree there are a number of things that you can do to make your time in the major much easier that I will mention below.
Avoid taking multiple difficult classes concurrently
It would be helpful if you can avoid taking difficult classes concurrently in the same semester. If you do then you will have a heavy workload, you might struggle to keep up and it could hurt your GPA.
It would be helpful to plan your major out as soon as you can so that you can spread out the difficult classes as much as possible and so that you can take them in an appropriate sequence. This would likely be best done with the help of an academic advisor from the department. It is normal to have to take more difficult classes together in your junior and senior years.
Consider the professor
The professor can have a big impact on the difficulty of a class. The professor will dictate the pace of the class, what gets covered on exams and how much homework there is. Some will give you a study guide and others will tell you to know everything from the textbook.
You can look at ratemyprofessors.com to see what other students have said about professors in the past. You will likely find that you will not have a choice in your junior and senior years unless you want to take the class in a later semester.
Make sure to do well on the homework
The grade that gets placed on homework and assignments can often be high in statistics classes. Many students don’t take the homework very seriously but they should. Doing well on the homework will help you do better in exams and boost your grade in the class.
Read the textbook before attempting the problems
Many students will jump straight to the homework problems before reading the textbook in an effort to save time. The problem with doing this is that the questions will be based on what is in the textbook and the professor might skip over sections of it.
If you read the relevant chapter before attempting the questions you will likely have a much easier time.
Prepare for the classes in advance
Something that you can do to make the classes much easier would be to prepare for them before you take them. You can do this by reading through highly-rated books on Amazon or watching playlists on Youtube. Doing this will help you follow along in lectures and have a much easier time in exams.