The other day, I experienced something for the first time in my entire academic career. A professor, addressing all of the graduating seniors in my biology program, said that it’s important to “do what makes you happy” when pursuing a career. That’s something I’ve always kept in mind. It’s what my parents have been telling me since I decided I wanted to be a forensic scientist in elementary school. It’s what they continued to tell me when I moved on to dreams of becoming a veterinarian in middle school. I’ve always had strong feelings about what I wanted to do with my life, because I’m absolutely miserable if I’m not ultimately working toward something that I want. But, I know not every one of my classmates has had the same experience. Some graduating seniors still don’t know what they want to do in terms of a future career.
This made me wonder: shouldn’t students be hearing this advice? Not just once, in passing, during a seminar a few weeks before graduation, but early in their education, and often. Should a young person be able to go hundreds of thousands of dollars into debt to pursue an education without being told that it’s important to be happy? I think there’s something inherently wrong with a system that can allow people, at such a formative time in their lives, to lose sight of one of the most important guiding principles in leading a successful, productive life.
That’s just my two cents. I’d love to hear what others think.