Reply To: Educational institutions have a responsibility to dissuade students from pursuing fields of study in which they are unlikely to succeed.
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University: Beijing Foreign Studies University
While there seems to be little room to argue against the statement that educational institutions should help students to achieve professional success and discourage them from pursuing futureless goals, in practice, this would result in costly mistakes and may even defeat the real purpose of education.
There can be no disputing that many students will face a situation in which they have to cover basic living expenses themselves upon graduation. In worse scenarios, they may even be forced to pay student loans. What is also true is that numerous poor families, especially in developing regions, choose to live an austere life in order to earn an opportunity of education for the children. They are expected to become successful and, in turn, help the family get rid of poverty. In light of this, providing assistance to students looking forward to promising careers is definitely one of the goals that educational institutions should pursue.
However, it needs to be noted that the primary purpose of education is to make students truly educated, rather than the utilitarian one mentioned above. The very essence of education should be to help students find the areas which interest them most and to supply academic training with the aim of making them informed. Without genuine interest and motivation as the driving force, students may find it extremely difficult to persist in the same routine of doing research and writing essays for several years.
On the philosophical side of this topic, I firmly believe that under no circumstances do educational institutions have the authority to make judgments regarding whether a student is likely to succeed in a certain course of career. What is the definition of “unlikely to succeed”? What specific measures are schools and colleges authorized to take? As individual members of society, students ought to have the right to make their own decisions which should be free from external intervention. Allowing colleges to restrict the students from choosing certain majors will definitely contribute to an unlimited power that could be used to enact other regulations deleterious to students’ development.
In summary, with the primary focus of education in mind, schools and colleges cannot interfere with students’ choices of choosing fields. However, they do have the ability to encourage students to explore various subjects before making the final decision that has a lifelong implication. Also, offering professional guidance to get students more prepared after graduation is an option worth considering.