Professor Zinsser talks about a situation when parents do their best to give their children good education and make sure they will not be in need in the future. According to the author, these good intentions, unfortunately, entail the situation where students learn the disciplines they do not want to and experience lack of motivation. Moreover, they probably feel they are missing an opportunity to major in something really appealing to them. The professor argues that the parents who choose this way, namely, those who turn a blind eye to their children’s preferences and make them study only the subjects that will bring more money are actually bad at defining their priorities. Author’s main point is that studying humanities may turn out to be as profitable as studying profession-oriented subjects.
I cannot help disagreeing with the author. Although at first glance his arguments seem reasonable, if we look closer to the facts about the present economic situation. One may find out that there is a high probability that the humanities graduates will simply not have appropriate qualifications for the labor and will not meet the demands of recruiting agencies. I believe that rather than majoring in the humanities, one can simply learn their favorite subjects without wasting at least four years on something that he or she will eventually need to give up in order to get knowledge in a more practical field.
Without any intention of underestimating the important role of the humanities in modern society, I, however, would like to note that majoring in this field will not help one to pursue a promising career. Experience of the people I know shows that the humanities do not pay off in most of the cases. The best option for a humanitarian is to become a university teacher and to teach his or her favorite subjects to the next generation of humanitarians. Simply looking at the quantity of those who wish to study humanities and available vacancies at the universities, one may reasonably conclude that a vast majority of the humanities graduates will be left “aboard.” It happened to one of my acquaintances. Maria always stood out in a crowd and tried to accentuate her individuality in as many ways as possible. She wore strange clothes and accessories, talked dramatically about humanity’s fate and was as exalted as one can possibly imagine. When the time has come to choose the major, Maria did not surprise anybody and went to study philosophy. The first period of her studies which lasted about three months was marked by her growing activity in participating in discussions, where she could show off even more than before. Later on, however, when the workload was growing and the girl realized that the amount of literature to be read for the exams was too big for her, she lost enthusiasm and confidence. German philosophy incorporated sophisticated ideas, consequently, Kant’s and Nietzsche’s ideas turned out to have nothing in common with the ones expressed by Maria’s beloved Paolo Coelho. Philosophy disappointed her and having graduated with average marks, she could not find a position better than a waitress in a local café.
The story clearly shows that the humanities are not for everyone and if I were to give some advice to the parent, I would recommend him or her not to be tricked by the child’s enthusiasm. Children may be inspired by the name of the chosen specialty and may not realize that to succeed in life one has to do a lot of uninteresting work. I also happen to know a girl who decided to take a course in radiophysics just because she thought it would help her to pursue a career in broadcasting, but that is a different story.
In some cases, however, neither the children nor the parents realize what occupation will be the best and thus hesitate over choosing the major. I think that in such cases majoring in mathematics will be the answer. Mathematics is something really beneficial in the long term perspective. Being a core of all sciences, mathematics opens the doors to all other fields afterwards. Moreover mathematics develops logical thinking, which may be helpful in starting business. If solving mathematical problems does not impress the future student, he or she may choose more practical disciplines involving capturing experiments and/or immediate observations of the results of the student’s work such as physics, chemistry or even engineering.
My mother’s friend studied at the Polytechnic University. She was not very good at math at first and these classes seemed very hard for her. On the other hand, this specialty was the one she could find the application to her passion in drawing. During her university years, there were no computers that could assist; therefore, all the drawings had to be made by hand and only with pencils on the paper. She soon loved this place and improved her knowledge in math. After graduation she did not become an engineer: she decided to start her own business. Mathematics helped her in calculations, drawing helped with the very essence of her business, namely, building and architecture.
I want to emphasize two points in this story. The first one is that in business one is more likely to find an application to his knowledge in practical subjects rather than in medieval literature. The second point is that science does pay off. Before writing this essay, I decided to analyze the Forbes list that reflects the trends in business. The percentage of people who became successful in their businesses after graduating from the departments of natural sciences is significantly higher from that who graduated from the department of humanities (25 and 6 respectfully). Even New York’s mayor Michael Bloomberg started his career as an engineer, converting his attention to business later.
A close friend of our family, George, told me the story about how he hated to attend a medical school as it seemed time-wasting to him. He dreamt of studying history and living like Indiana Jones. His negative feelings lasted to the moment when he saw how useful his knowledge may appear in practice. Once he saved a life of a man. This man was lucky that George was around that day and was able to recognize a stroke on time and to give first aid to him. Now George is a prominent surgeon saving lots of people’s lives every day. Who knows what he would become if he had followed his “humanitarian” dreams.
This example was intended to show that parents should not feel guilty about making choices instead of their children if they are not capable of doing it themselves. Children will be the ones to feel guilty for not showing enough respect in the beginning.
Tyrannical parents need to impose their beliefs if they really feel that their children cannot make the right choices, since young people are easily charmed by beautiful words and want to feel different from the majority. Unfortunately, convincing a child to major in the field that is most likely to bring good money is the realty of modern world. Nevertheless, it would be useful to consult someone who is successful in their professional orientation not to make the wrong choice. It is also useful to talk to a child and explain him or her all the difficulties they will face after graduating from the department of humanities. Wisely constructed conversations of this kind might help. If any of these tips helps, a clever parent should not forget to be supportive and to help his or her child to achieve all aims even if their wishes do not correspond to the parent’s ones.