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So what do you love?

| Tuesday, September 12, 2017

You know the drill when you meet someone at Notre Dame: “Hi, my name is ____, I’m from ____, I live in ____ and I’m studying ____.” We say these things because they’re the traits that define us. In college, one of the most important parts of an individual’s identity is what he or she studies. Everyone chooses a given path of education for a reason uniquely their own. So why are we still shaming people for their major choice?

I’m in the Program of Liberal Studies, a statement that often gets the question, “So what are you going to do with that?” I tend to get flustered, nervously laugh and respond with some answer that amounts to, “I’m not sure, and that’s why I want a broad education.” But the truth of the matter is I love discussion, I’m passionate about the big questions that don’t necessarily have answers and I know that learning to converse deeply is something that I’ll use in whatever field I choose. People can be judgmental, even if they don’t really mean to be, because it’s not the choice they would have made. And that’s okay. PLS is different, and I would never argue that it’s for everyone — but it is for me, and my choice deserves respect, not condescension.

That goes for everyone. I have friends in each college at Notre Dame, and we all tease each other at times about what we study. But when it comes down to it, we care about each other’s classes and projects and future goals. While I could never imagine being in the business school — and I can’t say that accounting classes sound particularly thrilling to me — it’s cool to see a friend get genuinely excited about what she’s learning. Another friend is an ACMS major, and his logical mind loves that in math, there’s a definitive way to find a correct answer. We often laugh about how different our classes are (he hasn’t introduced himself at the start of the semester since freshman year, and all I do for homework is read), but we also enjoy swapping stories and interesting lessons we’ve learned.

We should strive to listen attentively and be happy for anyone who enjoys what they study. What someone else has chosen to major in is their choice, not ours. It’s important to recognize the value in all education, which really amounts to the value in all careers. Business majors get criticized for only caring about money, but that completely disregards the importance of business in international relations, the circulation of culture and simply living a pleasurable life. Engineers make our world literally function on a day-to-day basis. We need science to progress as a culture and uncover more about the way we live. So you should choose to study what you are interested in, and respect what others have chosen. Learn to ask what they love, not what they want to do.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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