Education, Career, Choice & Happiness

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A multitude of factors influence our decision making process, internal or external, direct or indirect. Depending on how we choose, we are either maximizers or satisficers. While maximizers are trying to make the best decision, by weighing different factors and focusing on the outcomes, satisficers make decisions fast and tend to follow their guts. Research shows that satisficers also tend to be much happier than maximizers. It is obvious that we cannot compare choosing a pair of shoes to choosing which dergree to study. If you choose one pair of shoes over another, you will most likely forget about your other options two days after your purchase. But when you must choose between studying Economics or studying Fine Arts, because, as a matter of fact, these are the two subjects that make your heart beat, making the right decision can be crucial.

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In my philosophy, very few decisions can have a full impact on your life. In my philosophy, I believe in two things: you must find no time to regret, and any questionable decision you make can be turned to your advantage (this is also why I called it “questionable” and not “wrong”).

However, my philosophy can also be a path to superficiality. On the positive side, you know that if you study Economics and later realize you were made for Fine Arts, you can always go back – a bit delayed, at a certain cost, but you can always go back; let’s call this the decision-loop. On the downside, doesn’t this make us superficial in the way we investigate our options?

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A 17-year-old soon-to-be high-school graduate (let’s call him Chris) is highly unlikely to know what his calling is. Maybe he will choose to study Physics, because, after following a Scientific specialization in school (probably because his parents are both scientists), his best grades were in Physics, and thus, it comes almost naturally to say Chris is good in Physics. But who knows at that time, that he could be an excellent Marketing man? He doesn’t even know what Marketing is, exactly.

The education system is outdated and there is no doubt about that. We could argue for days that schools do not challenge the minds born in the digital age to their fullest potential. The education system is so focused on academic performance, yet completely lacks the practical dimension.

King’s College, in London, offers a wide variety of degrees. If you are interested in applying for an Undergraduate degree, you can browse by subject area to find the different courses. As a matter of fact, I counted no less than 86 different subject areas. Each of these offers, on average, three possible degrees. So, Chris, the 17-year-old soon-to-be graduate, who has been studying around 10 subjects in high-school, is now faced with 258 different courses he can potentially choose from. The pool of options increases even more, with each university offering a different variety of degrees. So how can Chris make the best choice?

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A new factor comes into play during the decision making process – something Chris, the 17-year-old soon-to-be graduate has not really heard too much about in high-school: jobs. How can he pick the best degree that has the best fit with the demand of the labour market, but at the same time that he is really passionate about? Panic! Chris, the 17-year-old soon-to-be graduate most probably has no understanding whatsoever of the labour market, nor what jobs there are, nor what they’re called, nor what the trends are, and in which domains.

So why do high-schools not teach you more about the real world issues you will be faced with, instead of an extra hour of Philosophy? I’m not saying Philosophy is not interesting! I’m saying that, in order to be able to make the wisest choice, you need to be exposed to a variety of different experiences. Philosophy is wonderful for your general knowledge and to learn how to develop your thinking, but wouldn’t an introduction to Marketing be useful as well? What if you could spend one or two hours per week, in your last year of high-school, learning about the trends and opportunities of the labour market, understanding different job titles and their tasks and approaching them in a playful way? Wouldn’t it help you when choosing your degree?

How would you improve the pre-university education system? Leave your thoughts below!

Ioana

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