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Work for what you love, not for the paycheck

It has become increasingly evident that students have began to choose majors based on the salary, rather than for pure enjoyment.

Photo of Julia Alaimo
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In times of unrealistic standards that students feel they must uphold, many have turned to majors that rather than bring them happiness, bring them a big paycheck instead. This notion has been engraved in student's heads since they began high school and for some, even before that. They are told consistently, "Take AP classes" "Get all As" "Work hard now so you don't have to later". I, being a student myself, have received this kind of pressure first hand. Students who are not even 18 yet are told to make decisions that determine the rest of their lives. I believe the stress that is placed upon teenagers in this generation causes them to set unrealistic expectations for themselves and results in a less than pleasing future. Although they may be able to make the big paycheck after 20 plus years of schooling, it has been proven time and time again that monetary success does not equate to happiness. In order for this generation to reach our full potential, we must be telling students to choose something they truly enjoy, to pick classes that interest them, and pick a career based on intrinsic values. If people go in to a career that they are passionate about, they will work harder than if it was something that they dreaded going to every day. This will thus boost the economy and form America back around the ideals it was founded on. As stated in the U.S Declaration of Independence, we have a right to, "Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness" which should be something we celebrate each and every day.

Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine higher education to support the needs of tomorrow?

My idea is deigned not only for students, but for parents, teachers, and other administration. A new look on how we design the standards set for students will allow them to fit with how the world is evolving and prepare them more for their future. In life, I believe everyone has a purpose and if they are not pursuing this purpose, instead pursing something based upon a salary, they are not doing what they were put on this earth to do.

This idea emerged from:

  • A student brainstorm

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

As a student, I am not equipped to enforce these ideas other than making sure I spread my thoughts to the other students around me. With OpenIDEO's help, I believe we can make a true difference on how students perceive school and how administration displays it to students. As a student, I can reach a large student audience while members of OpenIDEO can help with reaching the administrative part of my idea.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

I could ask students what they enjoy and then ask them what they plan on going into for their career. If they differ, I could ask follow up questions as to why they chose this career and what expectations they were upheld to throughout their student career. For those that do not differ, I could get an insight on what standards were given to them to see if there is a difference. I could then compare and contrast my ideas based on the feedback I received.

Tell us about your work experience:

I am currently in an Innovative Learning class where we learn about Innovation and new ways of approaching schooling as a whole. This class has given me a new insight on school and the different kinds of problems that have been so engraved into our heads throughout the years, we fail to even see them as a problem.

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Photo of Joseph Joram
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Hi Julia,
I do agree with you that the main motivation for careers is a good salary and prestige as opposed to passion. When asked what they would like to pursue in future, the most frequent response from students who pass their primary education exams in my country is Neurosurgeon! I always wonder whether they understand what they are talking about. A look at the history of careers, I have noted that most discoveries and innovations are brought about by people who are driven by passion and curiosity and not the money. One example is the story of a lowly educated toilet cleaner with no idea of chemistry, who ended up inventing a chemical formulation for eliminating maggots, despite years of research and funds undertaken by university educated scientists. The story goes that the inventor was motivated by the desire to find a solution that would enable him keep toilets under his care hygienically clean and free from the menacing maggots he encountered every day. He was eventually conscripted as a major shareholder of a reputable chemical company, turning his life around completely. In Kenya most of the successful marathon runners hardly went beyond high school. People should be encouraged to follow their career dreams based on their passion and capabilities.

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