Now that my son has returned to school, he's been trying to stop focusing on what he's going to major in, and begun thinking about where his true interests lie.
It's difficult because that's not the orientation of a major research university, although it certainly should be since the majority of students are undergraduates. In most of the workshops my son has attended, and in individual meetings with advisers, I believe the focus has been too narrow and the information too pedestrian.
Except for commencement speeches, few educators and administrators talk with students about the big picture. What is the true purpose of a college education? Aside from specific curricular information, what are faculty members hoping to teach their students? What do they hope their students will learn?
Of equal importance, how are faculty and administrators helping students understand the relationship between the big picture, and daily campus life?
From the get-go, students are pressured to pick a major, decide upon a career path, and achieve at all costs. And yet in many institutions, the importance of vocation as a calling isn't discussed by faculty or woven into the curriculum. Rather it's left to the purview of career counselors and advisers. And perhaps the entire concept of choosing a college major and its relationship to larger life issues should be rethought.
"Life itself is a whole, not divided into majors," writes Robert Harris, an author and college educator. "Most jobs, most endeavors, really require more knowledge than that of one field. We suffer every day from the consequences of not recognizing this fact. The psychologist who would fully understand the variety of mental problems his patients may suffer will need a wide-ranging knowledge if he is to recognize that some problems are biological, some are spiritual, some are the product of environment, and so on. If he never studies biology, theology, or sociology, how will he be able to treat his patients well? Shall he simply write them off as hopelessly neurotic?
"The doctor who believes that a knowledge of cell biology and pharmacology and diagnosis will be all-sufficient in his practice will help very few patients unless he also realizes that more than eighty percent of the typical doctor's patients need emotional ministration either in addition to or instead of physical treatment. The doctor who listens, and who is educated enough to understand, will be the successful one. A doctor who has studied history or literature will be a better doctor than one who has instead read a few extra medical books."I couldn't agree more. And now that my son has changed his focus and broadened his scope, I am feeling a great sense of relief and hope--for him. As the mother of an only child (and a former college administrator), I only wish that I'd thought this out more clearly months ago, and had provided my son with better advice.