Kelli passed along an article in the New York Times titled Choosing a College Major: For Love or for the Money? Some students who have majored in fields that are not in vogue in the business world are regretting their decisions, and many, many students are choosing their majors and courses not on personal interests but on what will be most marketable and lead to financial success.
Parents and students today often consider college more an investment than a time of academic and personal exploration. Some students say they are education consumers seeking the best return on that investment, which is often financed with a student loan.
I find that reality sad. And I see it all around me here at Brandeis. College has become hideously expensive and tremendously competitive. In recent years the college game has become incredibly complex, with students nearly killing themselves in high school and even before creating the proper profile for admittence into high-tier schools. And now, it isn’t enough to get into those schools, now students are being forced or are forcing themselves to continue on playing the game, getting maximum return on their effort so that when they get out into the hard, unfeeling corporate landscape, they will have a firm foothold. And then they will work and work and work until retirement.
“The world is a more unforgiving place than it used to be, and investment costs are too high for four years of drift,” he said. “If a student doesn’t take the right sequence of math courses in high school, they can lose out on the best jobs.”
There is no rest. There is no chance to discover yourself, to learn and grow and explore. And this drive towards immediate success after college is not good for students in the long-term. We live in a society now where we are going to have to pursue multiple careers over our lifetimes. What may be best right now may be useless in five or ten years. Is it worth it?
NYU career services director Trudy Steinfield cautions that colleges should not become factories for pumping people into the marketplace. But everyone is looking at college these days as an expensive investment, saddling students with huge amounts of debt. And you want your investments to pay off, and pay off quickly. And sadly, right now, Art History or Education or Philosophy is not going to do that.
But you’re only in college once.