Thinking aloud about college.


   It is the eternal question: “What are you going to do with THAT.” *eyebrow raise, shoulder forward*. Should we do what we love or what we know can support our families in the future?
  It’s a pertinent question for me, since I’ve always had an interest in the absolutely impractical (think english literature, archeology, astronomy, and linguistics).

The Story of Two History Majors:

       Our first example history major is my older brother Josh. He graduated three years ago and immediately found a job selling books online and working as an iphone app designer for our family company. He is currently in a two-year christian college and may very well pursue graduate studies afterwards. He is perfectly content with his college decisions; he enjoyed studying and learned a lot ( I can personally testify that Josh is one of THE SMARTEST people you’ll ever meet). When I asked his advice for my college years, he encouraged me to cultivate my natural interests and talents. He assured me that if he had to do it again, he would pick history in a heartbeat.

  The second history major is my babysitting employer. She followed her dream in college and regrets it. Now she is a single mom with a three year old son, rising day care costs, and a waitressing job that doesn’t pay quite enough to allow her to move out from her parents place. She is currently studying to become a nursing secretary and wishes she had chosen a more practical path in college.
    What then shall we do? Could it be that there is no definitive answer – rather a decision must be made based on your personal ambitions? 

Baby food or Mulaa. 

            You can’t have it all. We have to make tough choices based on our goals. If your goal is money then it doesn’t matter how you get there. You can work eight hours of everyday doing something you hate so you can go to Ruth’s cris and buy some gucci in your 16 hours of leisure? That may be some people’s dream but let me say one thing: 8 hours a day is one third of of your day. Do you really want to spend a third of your life advancing a career in something you don’t even care about? (okay, so I didn’t figure in weekends, but most doctors, lawyers, and other high professionals work much more then 8 hour days anyways – so the logic stands).
  Now there is a grey area. For some of us money is not the final goal, but a good career is. They are not greedy, ambitious, or ignorant – but their goal is to have enough money to support a family. This is very nobel. I commend you who can forsake four years of perfected intellectual pursuit for the sake of your unborn children.
  Even your in-college goals matter. Are you in college to get a degree? Or do you have some other motive. Unfortunately I’ve got a very different, very naive, idea about college. I imagine a friendly intellecutal utopia where scholars join together to pursue knowledge and advance their education. (Something like a perfect cross between Jonathan Swifts Laputa and Anne of Green Gable’s Avonlea) I know it’s an ignorant idea, but wether your main goal is partying, getting smart, or pursuing your interests, how are you going to do that if your a math-hater studying engineering for the practicality of it?

The Case for Practical: 

    Okay so let’s be real, it is already pretty apparent where I stand on this topic. I stink at hiding my opinion. But for the sake of creating a balanced argument, I will quote Forbes.com who had this to say about practical college majors: 

We’d love to point to data indicating that majors don’t matter in employment, starting salaries and lifelong earnings. But facts are stubborn things… Two studies reached the same conclusions. Individuals with engineering degrees, they indicate, experience lower unemployment and make more money than graduates with any other major. Undergraduate majors in computer science, mathematics, statistics, business, life sciences, and physical sciences are next in line. Liberal arts majors are at the back of this pack

    One more point for the practical people: consider the story of my friend who I will call Robert. Robert has a passion for astrophysics and astronomy. But instead of studying his passion in college he opted for engineering instead. Why? 
  “To be an astrophysicist you either have to know rich people or be a rich person.” He told me this in the context of me telling him I was interested in that field…
  “Now that is a joke of course. But it has something true about it. Enough true about it that I became an engineer.” 
  So my friend Robert became a rocket scientist instead of an astronomer. I’m not kidding, he literally is a rocket scientist. That doesn’t mean that he stopped pursuing astronomy. On the contrary anyone who goes to his house would marvel at the beautiful telescopes, special sun gazing equipment, and array of books, magazines, and other material he has for his special hobby. His practical degree/job helps to support his impractical passion/hobby.

The Case for Dreamers:

      Compromise sounds nice, but I’d still like to make two more points for those of us who have found all their major interests near the top of Forbes.com “10 worst college degrees” list. Number one: we can all agree that money is not part of the equation to happy life… right? Number two: it could be that the successful people in the next few generations are different then the successful people of today. The world is changing super fast. We may need people who are smart, good at thinking critically, and passionate about whatever they do. Rather then people who can follow the rules of money-making industries or otherwise regurgitate information they’ve learned, it may be that in the coming decades the most valuable people will be those who can think creatively to solve new problems and write the new rules. *cough cough*humanities majors*Cough Couch*.

  So there you have it. My conclusion is: what are your dreams? Because there are those who can work the impractical and those who can’t. There are pros and cons for every argument. Where you fit in is completely dependent on what your goals are. 

Author: Susanna

I'm Susanna, a 20-year-old Christian girl incorrigibly addicted spontaneous adventures. My first dream was to become a pioneer. Unfortunately, I was born a couple centuries late, so I've decided to read, cook, run, and travel the world until my time machine is finished. You'll mostly likely find me getting into trouble and/or eating licorice. I am currently blogging the misadventures of a middle-school teacher in training. Come join me on my quest to become the next Ms. Frizzle!

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