Do educational institutions have a responsibility to dissuade students from pursuing specific fields of study?

Prompt: Educational institutions have a responsibility to dissuade students from pursuing fields of study in which they are unlikely to succeed.

Success comes in many forms. Yet, success does not come from a field of study. Dissuading students from pursuing fields of study that is considered to have a low rate of success is wrong for this very reason because success depends on the student and the resources available to them. Without ambition or the available resources, a student will never be successful, deeming the act of avoiding certain fields as a way to climb the ladder of success a misleading fallacy. Moreover, discouraging students from embarking on an academic journey toward what society may judge unsuccessful is a disservice to education because the primary focus of educational institutions should be the expansion of knowledge in all forms of scholarship. Educational institutions should not discourage students, but rather shed light and emphasize the potential successes within each field, making as many resources available to them. Academia needs to be safe haven for embracing the diversity of thought, diversity of success, and the potential to contribute to the pool of knowledge we have so we can make the world a better place. Because success is dependent on a student’s ambition and accessibility to resources, discouraging students from specific fields is an incomplete solution. Further, since innovation and success in society is built upon diversity and the ever-growing pool of knowledge, encouraging students to disregard fields of study in which they are unlikely to succeed is counterproductive.

Shaped by society, success is a subjective construct that changes depending on the individual, the scholarship, and the audience. For instance, artistic success may be trivial in sectors of business and science, but is the core element of fields like graphic design and drama. Further, technological success may be futile in some areas of history and anthropological scholarship, but is fundamental for the constant innovation in science and the development of communication. As a classic example of the diversity of success, many will consider both Steve Jobs and Idina Menzel successful. With no advanced degrees in higher education, Steve Jobs climbed the ladder of success through technological development, his skills in entrepreneurship, and his hunger to learn. On the other hand, Idina Menzel graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, going on to become a successful Tony-award winning Broadway star. Analyzing these examples of success, success does not stem from a field of study; rather, success is built solely upon a student’s desire and ambitions to learn and to succeed.

From business and art to science and humanities, every field contributes knowledge to society in different ways. Business is a salient factor to financial knowledge in society and science can focus on our health and life expectancy whereas humanities successfully contribute to improving our communication and interpersonal skills and art supports society by strengthening our communities in empathy through critique of our history and our presence on this planet. Persuading students to avoid fields of study that society considers unsuccessful hampers the potential for new ideas and fresh perspectives. An example of diversity of thought, the creation of architecture is at the crossroads of many fields. Without art, the field of architecture would lack the sense of creativity needed to design buildings, bridges, and roads. Without business, the field of architecture would lack the knowledge regarding economical factors of bringing these abstract designs to reality. Another instance of where success requires diversity of thought is in the instance of government and the law of the land: the Constitution. Our country’s very foundation was built on the diversity of thought. When we hear the term “founding fathers”, we think of famous names like John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. However, dozens of many others contributed to building the Constitution. Even today, we continue to amend different components of the Constitution because with time, society grows and changes. In order to develop, society needs diversity of thought in our government to expand our perspectives in how the laws we vote for affect every citizen, making the process of discouraging students to join seemingly unsuccessful fields of study counterproductive.

In conclusion, encouraging students to disregard fields of study in which they are unlikely to thrive is counterproductive to success because a field of study does not create success. Success relies on individual ambition to learn and accessible resources. Further, success in society depends on diversity of thought and perspective. Educational institutions have the responsibility to act as an accessible resource to support students in reaching their full potential, not hindering it.


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