Kristin Kittell

Assistant Perspectives Editor

Last Friday, Jan. 11, just like every other painfully early Friday morning, I sat in the Sundquist Science Center awaiting the beginning of an 8 a.m. class. As I pondered the futility of my attempts to grasp science, I overheard the conversations of two students near me who were discussing their inabilities to outshine the students around them.

The long and short of it was that these students were upset the competitive natures of their classmates prevented them from standing out and gaining notice from their professors. They weren’t always the smartest in the room and this bothered them.

For about the thousandth time in my university career, it occurred to me not every student is here for the same reason as me. I’m not here to prove I’m better than anyone else. I’m not here to prove anything to anyone. I’m not here to make more money or to make career-improving connections — though I definitely wouldn’t complain if I managed to meet a few future references.

We all want different things out of college and it seems some students might be taking those desires and turning them into the wrong majors, followed by the wrong jobs and the wrong lives altogether.

College students change their majors several times as they learn what interests them and what skills they wish to develop. But are they all too often landing on the major that will translate into a six-figure income, regardless of whether or not they enjoy it?

Of course it’s important to consider the job outlook of your chosen concentration before pursuing a degree that will likely cost you right around twenty grand. Let’s be honest, the job market isn’t exactly encouraging creativity lately. But an extra few thousand a year shouldn’t be the defining point between a field you love and a field you can live with.

When money isn’t the main priority, but rather prestige, we set ourselves up for a permanent sense of discontent and an unsettling search for perfection. It’s never a bad thing to want to be the best. No wise person would discourage a desire to excel, but if that’s all you’re searching for, you’ll always fall short.

Being a high-power attorney or a business executive can be amazing, I’m sure, but if you don’t truly enjoy what you’re doing, it will never be enough.

It seems students have lost focus of what the purpose of higher learning truly is. What happened to a sheer respect for intellectualism? There was once a time when people studied simply because they thirsted for knowledge. After all, how could you possibly be an asset to your society if you don’t understand the world that you’re living in?

Maybe what this country is missing is more than a handful of people who know the origins of democracy simply because they want to, or know the works of John Keats just because they love the way the words sound.

And maybe we should be in college simply because we love to learn, rather than because we love to be better than the student sitting next to us. TAS