December 20, 2012, by Anne S
Why study what you love?
Katherine Tallant is the School Manager for Sociology and Social Policy, she’s also the brains behind the Study What You Love campaign.
The inspiration for this campaign came from a workshop I attended in which we were discussing how students choose what to study. We considered all sorts of influences like parental expectations, what friends are applying for, career plans, the location of the campus etc. and I was concerned that this was all secondary to the need for students to study a subject that inspired and excited them. I cried: “You should study what you love!”
So why do I want you to study what you love? First because otherwise your time at university just isn’t going to be as much fun and you won’t want to make the most of the incredible opportunities available to you. You need to be passionate about your subject as you’re going to be reading and writing thousands of words about it and spending hours discussing and thinking about it.
Second because it is often the transferable skills that you develop whilst studying that are the key to getting a job and you’re more likely to develop good skills if you enjoy what you’re studying than if you’re suffering in silence through every seminar and gritting your teeth through every essay.
I studied philosophy at university at both undergraduate and postgraduate level and yet I’m ashamed to admit that my recollection of the A and B theories of time and meta ethics is now sketchy at best. But I do remember that I loved studying philosophy and that I use the skills I developed whilst studying every day. My degrees taught me how to critically analyse information, to see the bigger picture and summarise the situation accurately, the importance of having an opinion and how vital it is that my view is based on sound evidence. It made me aware of the power of words in effective communication, especially when needing to convey ideas quickly and succinctly. I learnt how to solve problems, to take notes, keep to deadlines, work and think independently and collaborate with others.
I’ve been working in university administration for over ten years and I can say with total certainty that I wouldn’t be where I am now, and wouldn’t be able to do my job effectively, if I hadn’t studied a subject that fascinated and engaged me. So, when choosing what to study, please remember to pick something that inspires you because you’ll stand a much better chance of developing those vital skills for your dream job if you study what you love.
Katherine, this is a v good post. Very clearly expressing what should (hopefully) drive students of any age, as well as demonstrating that pursuing knowledge for its own sake does have considerable side-benefits. Thanks for writing it!
If you don’t study what you love, you’ll not be consistent, persistent, nor focussed.. These are the qualities required for dedication and success – as the saying goes, “You get more of what you focus on”.
Not doubts this is very important issue, but to my view it is more important to ask how can student understand better what he/she really loves? My opinion is that because of the external impact not all the students, may be even majority, don’t know what they want and where to go. To understand this very debatable and interesting issue, I strongly recommend to read Sir Ken Robinson’s “The Element”.