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  #31  
Old 01-25-2019, 10:29 PM
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I think the big thing going on here is that kids who go to tippy top schools (I'm talking like top 15 ranked in the US News) tend to have different and better paying options than actuarial such as being a Data monkey (or software monkey if they have rudimentary coding skills) at Big Name company, Quants, Investment banking, management fast-track programs, etc. This are generally out of reach for grads from lower ranked schools that fuel the actuarial industry.

Not to mention that math grads from top programs are way more likely to go into graduate school and academia.

Something else I've been thinking about is that most kids who know they want to go into the actuarial field are not "elite" in the way polymath talks about, which is to say that they weren't born dirty rich. A lot of my co-workers, and especially those that went to college knowing they wanted to be an actuary, have blue collar backgrounds. I dont see why someone born into wealth would be content with a largely soulless job (largely located in the po) that really caps out at 150k for nearly everyone.
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Old 01-26-2019, 01:24 AM
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Originally Posted by The_Polymath View Post
The thing is, being elite is already defined for most people since birth, and what schools you attend during childhood.

There are a few people at the margins who end up going to top schools, and make it into the "elite" after working hard and having succesful careers, even though they had a decidedly non-elite upbringing, but these people are few and far between.

The game truly is rigged for the vast majority of people. You're essentially stuck where you land really.
actuarial is a good way to escape the lower levels, but maybe not as good to go from the middle tiers to being rich

it's already helped me leave where I landed and already make close to what my parents did at their peaks.
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  #33  
Old 01-26-2019, 01:51 PM
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According to your definition of what is middle class, would you say most fellows are upper middle class?
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  #34  
Old 01-26-2019, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by BunsInSpace View Post
I think the big thing going on here is that kids who go to tippy top schools (I'm talking like top 15 ranked in the US News) tend to have different and better paying options than actuarial such as being a Data monkey (or software monkey if they have rudimentary coding skills) at Big Name company, Quants, Investment banking, management fast-track programs, etc. This are generally out of reach for grads from lower ranked schools that fuel the actuarial industry.

Not to mention that math grads from top programs are way more likely to go into graduate school and academia.

Something else I've been thinking about is that most kids who know they want to go into the actuarial field are not "elite" in the way polymath talks about, which is to say that they weren't born dirty rich. A lot of my co-workers, and especially those that went to college knowing they wanted to be an actuary, have blue collar backgrounds. I dont see why someone born into wealth would be content with a largely soulless job (largely located in the po) that really caps out at 150k for nearly everyone.
Hi. I'm an actuary who went to Harvard, and come from a family of doctors and lawyers. Not tippy-top fields, but certainly not blue collar. (Although my dad used to wear blue dress shirts, to the chagrin of my grandmother.)

Harvard certainly steers its grads to graduate school, academia, and investment banking. But I'm pretty happy with this field. The pay is fine. The hours are compatible with having a life outside of work. (Or, if you take one of the jobs where you really work all the time, the pay is comparable to any of my other options.)

And one of the things I like most about this field is that it ISN'T soulless. That's why I didn't want to go into investment banking. Yeah, they sometimes fund a useful start-up. They also kill a lot of perfectly good useful companies because someone can make a buck today, and to hell with the workers and the customers. We help mitigate loss. We help people when their house is consumed in a wild fire. We pay workers who were damaged by trying to earn a living. We compensate people who who were injured because some company cut corners, or didn't foresee the consequences of their decisions, or just because there are things worth doing that entail risks. I'm not the claims adjuster who actually pays those people, but I do interesting math work that makes good use of my capabilities, and it helps keep my company solvent and able to do all those things. I sleep pretty well at night. No, I'm not growing food, raising babies, or even creating fine art, but in a little way, I am making the world a better place.
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  #35  
Old 01-26-2019, 11:03 PM
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Originally Posted by PeppermintPatty View Post
Hi. I'm an actuary who went to Harvard, and come from a family of doctors and lawyers. Not tippy-top fields, but certainly not blue collar. (Although my dad used to wear blue dress shirts, to the chagrin of my grandmother.)

Harvard certainly steers its grads to graduate school, academia, and investment banking. But I'm pretty happy with this field. The pay is fine. The hours are compatible with having a life outside of work. (Or, if you take one of the jobs where you really work all the time, the pay is comparable to any of my other options.)

And one of the things I like most about this field is that it ISN'T soulless. That's why I didn't want to go into investment banking. Yeah, they sometimes fund a useful start-up. They also kill a lot of perfectly good useful companies because someone can make a buck today, and to hell with the workers and the customers. We help mitigate loss. We help people when their house is consumed in a wild fire. We pay workers who were damaged by trying to earn a living. We compensate people who who were injured because some company cut corners, or didn't foresee the consequences of their decisions, or just because there are things worth doing that entail risks. I'm not the claims adjuster who actually pays those people, but I do interesting math work that makes good use of my capabilities, and it helps keep my company solvent and able to do all those things. I sleep pretty well at night. No, I'm not growing food, raising babies, or even creating fine art, but in a little way, I am making the world a better place.
I'm not from a blue collar background either. Neither are many of the analysts at my office. What I meant to say is that the ones going into college knowing that they wanted to be actuaries (so really, the ones that say things like "I chose XYZ State University because they have a good actsci program") were more coming from blue-collar families. Those of us that more of just landed in the career (went to schools without actsci programs or weren't actuarial majors) seem to have families with white-collar parents. This is just my n=1 workplace observation, and could totally be wrong, but I think it kinda makes sense in the entire "elite kids mostly don't end up as actuaries" discussion.

w.r.t. the "where people from top schools go" stuff, I was speaking in generalities of course. I know there are a number of actuaries that have an elite educational pedigree (off the top of my head a past SOA president went to MIT for example). I just meant to say is that a lot of top-15 graduates have greater access to industries that are thought of as more prestigious and lucrative (starting salary anyways) and don't involve a high likelihood of needing to move outside of cool big cities.

It's not that I don't share your perspective on the existence of meaning in actuarial work (I do), but IMO I think one has to be sold on the actuarial job first before they really start thinking about and justifying about how necessary (and inherently good) our contributions are. The more I learn about the work my company does, the more I realize that it's really really important that we're here.

But most people don't think of insurance and think "yep, they're doing really important work over there and we're absolutely better off with insurance than without." Insurance is generally thought of as pretty evil. If I didn't know that the actuarial route was going to earn me some good money and spend some introspective time thinking about the impact of actuarial work, I would always think of actuaries as perhaps how we think of investment bankers.
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