Students Should Pursue Their Passions in College

JULIAN WYLLIE | Columnist

President Barack Obama has said higher education is the key to preparing Americans for the jobs of the 21st century.

“We can’t allow higher education to be a luxury in this country. It’s an economic imperative that every family in America has to be able to afford,” he said in 2012.

It is now 2014, and the cost of attending college has risen. In 2012, tuition was reported to have risen 1,120 percent over the last 30 years by Bloomberg.

American society has continued to push the nation’s youth to enter college as if that will automatically make everyone’s lives better.

Do not be fooled. College is still risky business.

Students are borrowing more than ever to finance their college education, according to a CBS news article from October 2013.

Additionally, majoring in a field you are interested in will increase your chances of sucess.

The idea of “fake it until you make it” will not cut it at this level.

Freshman Brian Todd, a finance and marketing major, said he was encouraged by his dad to pursue engineering because the field has statistically higher lifetime earnings for graduates.

Science, technology, engineering and math majors enjoy higher employment rates, according to a study from Princeton University.

The study later suggests that not everyone can enjoy those benefits.

As students rise through their field of study, the competition will only get more intense. Students who are not passionate about their work will most likely be outshone by those who are.

Like STEM majors, business majors must show a commitment to their work in order to climb the corporate ladder.

But what can be said about the “risky” majors?

These fields have greater barriers to entry because of the declining amount of available jobs, according to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Similar statistics were reported by the Chronicle of Higher Education in the article titled “How Liberal Arts Majors Fare over the Long Haul.”

The majors in question include communications, English, psychology, history, anthropology, graphic design, visual and performance art, architecture, political science, social work and education.

However, we should be honest when it comes to something as serious as college.

Some fields pay more and have more jobs available.

But no one should be discouraged from majoring in something simply because of the barriers to entering the job market.

We may end up pushing away the future poet laureates, authors, historians, teachers and activists of tomorrow.

I believe in the end that a major means nothing if the student does not plan to make the world a better place.

It is great that some students are able to combine their passions and directly relate it to a field associated with higher earnings and prestige.

Freshman Abbigail Peters, another finance and marketing major, said she loves math. She also said she enjoys the opportunity to interact with business professionals and customers.

She previously considered teaching, actuarial science and even orthopedic surgery.

Peters’ parents helped her realize that her outgoing personality and love of math could be complimented with the college of business at Butler. She said she does not regret that decision.

But she does acknowledge a multitude of factors swayed her away from the field of education. She said she might have enjoyed life as an educator if the circumstances were different.

“Teaching is a dangerous field to get into,” Peters said. “Seeing what my mother had to deal with as a teacher turned me off from the field. But my parents helped clear my mind in deciding what I wanted to do in the end.”

Peters’ mother has been a teacher for more than 20 years, and it has not gotten any easier for her.

“She’s just so exhausted. She definitely still sees the benefits in teaching but she’s at the point where she’s just done. But she’s not allowed to be done,” Peters said. “I’ve seen it firsthand, so I don’t know if I could go down that route.”

Undoubtedly, it will be hard for some students to make it because of the cost of education and the economy.

But if fear is stopping you from majoring in something you are passionate about, get rid of those negative thoughts.

No one should have to look back on their life and wonder “what if?”

Students who enter a field only because of a higher salary are sacrificing a rewarding life for money.

In that case, they made their biggest mistake from the very start.

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