Is University Preparing Us in the Right Way?

 

What happens if we become an expert in a field we don’t like? Not all students choose their area of study for the right reasons, and it’s important to understand what area truly interests you and why. The key is not to study something because you think you “should” but because it resonates with what truly interests you. All areas of study have value. Although STEM subjects seem to be the most popular and useful, that might not be the right choice for you. It’s about finding the area that suits you and naturally highlights your skills.

 

To illustrate why it’s important for every student to choose his or her own path, you should check out the brilliant TED talk titled Why tech needs the humanities, which discusses the importance of hiring students with diverse backgrounds and skills. It highlights how all companies, even ones focusing on technology, need people with different skills. In fact, 60% of jobs in tech companies aren’t tech related. This means that both STEM subjects and the humanities are crucial for all businesses. In this blog, we will discuss how all backgrounds are important, and why it’s crucial for you to find one that fits YOU.

 

It’s incredible to see how narrow our education system has become. We ask our students to decide which field is best suited for them before they are even considered adults. This is especially true in the UK, where students must start to narrow down their subject choices for the GCSEs and then more so once they start their Alevels. What are the consequences of specialising in a field when we don’t have enough information about ourselves and our preferences? Well if we are unlucky, we end up becoming an expert in a field we don’t like. This can lead to several issues, such as a higher chance of a midlife crisis.

 

So then how does a student know which path is best suited for him or her, when they haven’t had the opportunity to fully explore all areas available to them? There is increasing pressure to go into STEM subjects, as our world seems to be putting most resources and energy into tech companies. If students are aware of this bias, and base their education choices on this assumption, then what happens once they graduate? Will they learn to be happy and love the work? Or will they have to force themselves to be in a role that doesn’t match their interests and inherent skills?

 

As the article Education is not preparing students for a fast-changing world states: “Today’s students need to prepare themselves for job descriptions yet unwritten…students need to steer a course between “Will” and “Watson,” between the humanities and social sciences (as represented by William Shakespeare) and computational thinking and STEM fields (as represented by IBM Watson). This is not merely our wishful cheerleading for literature and history. The skills they foster — critical thinking, clear communications, empathy, and self-awareness — are what employers consistently promote as essential characteristics for job candidates.

 

So then if the trend is to encourage students into the STEM fields, but employers need skills that the humanities teach, then what should a student choose for him or herself?
With all this external pressure to meet the demands of our current workforce, we think the key is to constantly assess what feels right for yourself. Never become an expert in something you don’t like is crucial advice to keep in mind. As we saw in the TED talk and the article, our world needs diversity. We don’t all need to focus on the STEM fields, since our world requires many skills from various areas. Although the STEM subjects are without a doubt crucial, we should not all feel pressured to study them.

 

University should be a time to explore and try new things.
It should be a time to develop areas that suit us, and give us the space and security to explore. If you don’t realise which direction is right for you during university, at least try to figure out which paths are definitely wrong. University should be a place to reassess what you want out of life, an make sure your foundations are solid. It should help you begin to figure out what is right for you, but not force you down a path you think you should be on.

 

If you take anything away from this blog, it would be this: do not follow a path you think you “should” be on. Try, as best you can, to study subjects and aim towards a career that doesn’t feel forced. A field that taps into your natural skills will be one that will feel rewarding, and bring you more satisfaction and energy than one you think you “should” be on. Don’t become an expert in an area you don’t like. Once you have found a field that feels right, don’t worry where it will lead you. Just know that as long as you’re doing something you enjoy, you will figure out how to make your skills fit into a job and career that brings you joy and excitement. Even if that is not clear now, it will be one day. You just need to make sure that what you’re doing feels right. If you’re looking for a little more on this topic, check out the above mentioned TED talk about why diverse backgrounds are a necessity for our society. We’ve also written some other relevant blogs including: Millennials, Challenges and Uncertainties, as well as Life Path: to Conform or Not to Conform? That is The Question.

 

At Uber Tutors, we are very familiar with the struggles faced by university students today. That is why our early careers service, provides mentors and consultants that help students find the right academic and career path for them. Contact us by calling us at 02030867311 or send us an email at info@ubertutors.co.uk to find out more.