Monday, August 24, 2009

One thing I'll never understand.....

Being a college student, I often get asked about my degree program, like most other students. Of course, as always, I answer that I am an International Studies major, focusing on Latin America and Development. This is usually followed by a "What are you going to do with THAT???"

I don't mind being asked about my life dreams and goals but this question bugs me for a couple reasons. One, I don't think a college education should just be about vocational training (especially as jobs can and do change) and two, how many teens and twenty-somethings can honestly say they know what to do with the rest of their lives? Aside from maybe something heavily specialized (business, engineering, etc), does a piece of paper really determine exactly what will occur in the future?

College was never supposed to be about vocational training. A college education was meant to broaden the mind of a young student, to allow them to explore various fields, ideas and ways of thinking, to encourage them to ultimately decide for themselves, whether it was what they wanted in their education or what they wanted in life. That's why, in colleges everywhere, business majors have to take classes like art history and music majors have to take science. In my case, my major requires me to take classes in history, government, economics, and foreign language. Regardless of what I do with my life, that knowledge base can only serve me well. As for the job aspect, that's what internships, networking, and workshops are for. They don't care whether you're highly specialized. Most employers want someone who is passionate, who works hard and who can think. For these reasons alone, a college education is not worthless.

As for me being a "lazy" person because I don't know, well, as I've said, that's most of us in life, no matter how old we are. Unless you're involved in something requiring a high degree of specialization, chances are that you'll have different jobs throughout your life. I interned at a non-profit over the summer and saw people go on to endeavors such as USAID, the UN, overseas volunteer programs, or grad school. Most of these people are a few years older than myself and have had their fair share of life experience. If I, at the age of twenty, don't know what I want and I'm still in school, waiting tables and I just completed my first internship, I don't think I need to have it all figured out to a T just yet. That does not make me lazy. It just means I'm still figuring it out and as I have my share of jobs and opportunities, my purpose in life will become clearer.

So, if you're a young college student, feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders , don't sweat it. I dare and defy anyone to figure it out right away. Also, sometimes people are just curious and want to know. They aren't always out to criticize your choices. Likewise, on the other side, keep that in mind. Many of us face enough pressure trying to maintain good grades while working, staying involved, and seeing our friends. We don't need an existential crisis added to the mix. I'm pretty sure that, as college students, we're good enough at generating those on our own.

1 comment:

  1. The "I don't know" is the creative not knowing of Keats, the negative capability that creates the poetry of this world. 'I don't know" is exactly the place to be.