Take Heart, Nerds—Science Says the Cool Kids Don't Stay Cool

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We have good news for young dweebs dreading returning to school: The cool kids in middle school don't stay that way. According to a longitudinal study that followed a group of American kids for 10 years, from ages 13 to 23, kids who get into minor trouble as 7th and 8th graders become less popular as their peers mature and begin to think things like shoplifting and getting drunk are less cool.

As noted in the study, published in Child Development, the adolescent use of behaviors such as minor delinquency or precocious romantic involvement to appear mature or "cool" among peers has long been recognized in both research and popular culture, from Rebel Without a Cause to Mean Girls. Unfortunately for the cool kids, the social cachet of rebellion doesn't last.

The study followed 184 youngsters into adulthood, finding that kids who exhibited minor delinquent behaviors in middle school of the kind that often impress other teens tend to be less well-adjusted in the long run. Kids who sneaked into movies or stole things from their parents; who dated more people; and who placed more importance on physical attractiveness as a prerequisite for friendship were by their early 20s less popular and rated less socially competent by their peers. Moreover, delinquent behavior in middle school predicted greater levels of drug use and criminal behavior in the future.

"You see the person who was cool … did exciting things that were intimidating and seemed glamorous at the time—and then five or 10 years later, they are working in a menial job and have poor relationships and such," lead author Joseph Allen, a psychology researcher at the University of Virginia, told CNN. "And the other kid—who was quiet and had good friends but didn't really attract much attention and was a little intimidated—is doing great."

Previous research suggests it's the less-mature kids who try to appear older. The researchers hypothesize that for these teens, “pseudomature behaviors replace efforts to develop positive social skills and meaningful friendships and thus leave teens less developmentally mature and socially competent over time.”

That’s not to say that being a little bit of trouble as a teen necessarily damns you for life. This study was based on 184 kids from the southeastern U.S., and 11 dropped out before the researchers made the follow-up in the subjects' early adulthood.

But it does suggest that kids benefit from spending a longer period of time being, well, kids—spending more time having sleepovers with their friends and learning how to interact without the social lubricant of drugs and alcohol. Add that to the substance abuse–prevention curriculum: Hold off on partying for a few more years, and you’ll be more popular in college.

[h/t: The New York Times]

Editor's note: This story originally ran in 2015 and was updated in 2018.

The Most (and Least) Valuable College Majors, Ranked

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While choosing a college degree shouldn’t be entirely a matter of following the money, most students do want to know that their chosen field of study will eventually lead to a paying job. But the most valuable college major probably isn’t the one you’d think. A new study finds that actuarial science majors make the most money after graduation, according to Forbes.

To determine the most valuable college majors, Bankrate analyzed 2016 data from the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey to see how many people with bachelor’s degrees were employed in a job related to their major. The survey looked at data related to 162 college majors, analyzing unemployment rates, incomes, and the number of people with higher degrees. These factors were weighted to show which jobs pay the most, have the lowest unemployment rates, and require the least schooling.

The data showed that people with actuarial science degrees—who go to on to become risk assessors in the insurance and finance industries, among other jobs—make an average of $108,658 a year, with an unemployment rate of just 2.3 percent. Compare that to people with a degree in something like clinical psychology (No. 160 on the list) who make an average of $51,022 and have to contend with a 4.8 percent unemployment rate. The study also found that actuarial science is a valuable degree because most graduates don’t go on to get advanced degrees, meaning those high wages aren’t going toward paying off grad school debt. Only 22 percent of those actuarial science students went on to get master’s degrees or doctorates.

Below are the 10 most valuable degrees and their average annual incomes. These jobs pay, on average, between $96,000 and $130,000 a year.

1. Actuarial science
2. Zoology
3. Nuclear engineering
4. Health and medical preparatory programs
5. Applied mathematics
6. Pharmacy, pharmaceutical sciences, and administration
7. Molecular biology
8. Mechanical engineering
9. Civil engineering (tie)
9. Finance (tie)

And these are the least valuable, making between $40,000 and $51,000 a year, on average:

1. Miscellaneous fine arts
2. Composition and speech
3. Clinical psychology
4. Cosmetology services and culinary arts
5. Visual and performing arts
6. Human services and community organization
7. Educational psychology
8. Drama and theater arts
9. Interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary studies (general)
10. Library science

If you don’t have an interest in math and engineering, don’t be too dismayed. Plenty of those with liberal arts degrees still manage to make a living after graduation. Even if your drama degree doesn’t lead to a job in Hollywood, it isn’t necessarily a waste. But if you’re debating between mechanical engineering and civil engineering, we recommend going mechanical.

You can view the entire study here.

[h/t Forbes]

4 Old Men Who Played College Football

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College football is usually a young man’s game, but occasionally an old timer finds his way onto the field. With this fall’s schedule finally in full swing, let’s take a look at four players who didn’t let their relatively advanced ages keep them off of the gridiron.

1. TOM THOMPSON // AUSTIN COLLEGE

In November 2009, Tom Thompson cemented his place as the grand old man of college football when he booted an extra point for the Austin College Kangaroos in a game against Division III power Trinity. Thompson, a 61-year-old graduate student at Austin, had been a backup kicker in high school, but he dusted off his kicking skills for the first time in four decades to make the big boot. The story would have been something right out of a movie if not for the final score: Trinity waxed Austin 44-10.

2. ALAN MOORE // HOLMES COMMUNITY COLLEGE/FAULKNER UNIVERSITY

Alan Moore kicked as a freshman at Jones County Junior College in 1968. At the end of the season he headed off to fight in the Vietnam War, and once his tour of duty was over Moore never managed to get back onto the gridiron ... until 2010, that is.

After getting laid off from his job in 2009, Moore moved to Mississippi to be near his grandchildren and found he once again had the urge to kick. He bought kicking shoes, built a goal post in his daughter’s yard, and started practicing. After a failed attempt to rejoin his old squad at Jones County, the 60-year-old kicker with 40-plus-yard range suited up for Holmes Community College for the 2010 season. In 2011—at age 61—Moore made the squad at Faulkner University in Montgomery, Alabama, becoming the oldest person to ever step on the field.

3. MIKE FLYNT // SUL ROSS STATE

Back in 2007, Mike Flynt told his pals that his biggest regret was getting kicked off of his college football team. When a friend challenged Flynt to do something about it, the 59-year-old grandfather sprang into action. After establishing that he still had remaining eligibility, Flynt set about rejoining the team at his alma mater, Division III Sul Ross State in Texas.

Flynt wasn’t your average 59-year-old ex-jock, either. He had spent his career working as a strength and conditioning coach at schools like Tennessee and Nebraska, so he’d stayed in shape. He ended up making the Sul Ross State squad as a linebacker.

4. TIM FRISBY // UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA

When Tim Frisby tried out for the University of South Carolina’s squad in 2004, he wasn't exactly an old man. But he wasn’t exactly the typical walk-on, either. At age 39, he was a former U.S. Army Ranger who had served in the first Gulf War and in Kosovo. He had six children. (Gamecocks coach Lou Holtz joked that putting Frisby on the roster would at least boost attendance if his whole family came to games.)

Stranger still, Frisby wanted to try out for one of the fastest spots on the roster: wide receiver. Luckily, his years in the military had preserved both his NCAA eligibility and his body; Frisby still ran a 4.6-second 40-yard dash. In 2005 Frisby notched his first career catch, a nine-yard reception, and won the team’s offensive GPA award with a 3.6 mark in his journalism major.

The NCAA doesn’t keep age stats, but at the time researchers pegged Frisby as the oldest man to ever play Division I football. Both Holtz and his successor, Steve Spurrier, insisted that Frisby was on the team as a deserving possession receiver, not a novelty, but the man his teammates called “Pops” got to have some fun with his unusual age. He made it onto the couch for both David Letterman and Jay Leno in that first season!

This story originally ran in 2011.

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