justify my love

To ask teenage college applicants what they would like to major in or what career plans they have is not a meaningful question. Most teenagers have little idea of the areas covered by subjects they have been introduced to at school; they have no idea of most fields they have never been taught; they have little knowledge of the most popular careers, and they have never heard of so many existing careers. Most students are not aware of the fact that careers are created and become obsolete every day.

Still most colleges, even the most liberal liberal arts ones explicitly ask or implicitly expect applicants to tell them about their academic and career plans. Although I have always championed the right to be undecided in any aspect, at any stage of your life, I don’t find the question totally meaningless. It has just been worded awkwardly.

If I were a college admissions officer, I would like to know what makes you tick. I may not ask you what careers seem attractive to you, but I would like to make sure you are interested in academic work – after all college is about academic work first.

Of course, life is not all about academic work, and it’s perfectly legitimate not to be interested in academic work – a meaningful, useful and happy life and academic work are not necessarily related, but if this is your case, then why go to college – because you have no other idea of what to do with your life? Well, a college admissions committee would then think “Take a year or more off and try to find out, kid. Apply again if you have a good reason to do academic work.”

Being interested in academic work does not necessarily mean you were born to be a professor some day; it means you are interested in some questions and you are so passionate about answering them (out of pure curiosity or to solve some problems you care about), that you believe one of the most meaningful things in your life is to explore them and learn, and you believe a college setting would be the most appropriate place to do so.

Here is why most American colleges ask you to discuss an issue of local, national and international concern you care about – they expect you to show you have at least spent time trying to figure it out. Here is why career preparation colleges in Europe ask you how you have chosen the major you’re applying to – how your interest in it was born and how it has developed so far.

It’s not that hard as colleges just ask you to declare and prove your love for a subject / career / type of education, NOT to justify it by explaining WHY you fell in love with exactly this subject / career. It’s not like your mom asking you why you love the guy / girl she despises. They do not explicitly ask you “What are the questions you bother to answer.”, but they would be happy to have the question answered.

Here comes the tricky part – to find out what you are interested in and what you care about. As nobody has ever asked you the question, you might be at a loss. Here is an easy way to start: sit down and think for 5 minutes, writing down all questions that spontaneously come to your mind. Then try to answer at least one of them. This could be the beginning of a thrilling quest, and … the beginning of an essay I would be eager to read 🙂 You remember? I have been asking you to do that so many times – in order to practice writing in English 😀

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One response to this post.

  1. Do you think that most of EU colleges have mostly students with definite and profound interest in the subjects they study? 😛

    Reply

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