Finding your passion in college is a privilege many don’t get to experience

The ability to explore different disciplines is a luxury that is not afforded to all Vanderbilt students

When exploring the wide breadth of courses, majors, and career paths one can pursue in college, it is not uncommon for students to change their majors two, three or even over four times at Vanderbilt. Ask a Vanderbilt upperclassmen what they want to pursue after college and often you’ll be met with a simultaneous expression of exasperation and a laughter: “I’ll figure it out eventually.” Based on these experiences, one would presume that finding a specific passion is something every college student goes through. However, many students – because of financial or cultural reasons – are simply left out of this experience.  

Pragmatically speaking, many students need a stable, moderately paying job after graduation when taking into account the financial setback experienced from attending Vanderbilt. Students are simply blocked out of career paths which lack this security whether it be due to their own finances, a need to provide for families or other financial reasons. Additionally, this is often compounded with familial expectations to pursue ‘well respected’ career paths which usually surround paths in the STEM, legal or business fields. From a societal standpoint, more collectivist cultures do not express the sentiment that one should always follow a career that they love (e.g. South or East Asia).

While there are undoubtedly many students who are able to overcome these challenges to pursue interests that may be riskier or less lucrative, too many students are still deprived of the experience of casting a wide net across the academic disciplines offered to students. As most students are financially dependent upon their parents, they are not the sole decision makers in their educational choices. Compounded with the realities of post graduation plans, the merits of a liberal arts education are not as universally experienced as we would like to believe.

Naveen Krishnan is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at naveen.krishnan@vanderbilt.edu.

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Naveen Krishnan

Naveen (2020) is a writer for the Campus and Opinion sections of the Vanderbilt Hustler. From Orlando, Naveen is majoring in Neuroscience, Chemistry and Economics with a passion for the intersection of science and the law. He is interested in global affairs with respect to terrorism and spends his free time binge watching his favorite shows.

1 COMMENT

  1. Big oversimplification. There is even a choice if you major in STEM. Unless one is an engineering major, most STEM majors make it rather easy to double major. In addition, even certain majors that students and parents usually associate with less lucrative jobs, often lead to lucrative jobs at selective colleges and universities. Often those folks who go on a “track” go on the track because they want a clear path laid out before them on how they achieve access to whatever career. When you choose a different major, you have to think and plan a little more about what courses you’ll take, research you’ll engage in, and what internships you will get in order to make that seemingly “dud” major more marketable. The choice being made by those who so easily write them off as not lucrative is the mere choice not to do any of that. Why do it when certain tracks have so much advising and history that one all but knows what they need to do once proclaiming to be “pre-X”. It is up to you as students to effectively “power up” whatever major you choose. Consider all the biology majors who end up not competitive for medical school after choosing pre-med as a track and then have done so littler to engage biology beyond the classroom to get a job in the field after graduating? This actually happens a lot.

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