Commencement season has arrived. ‘Tis the time for inspiring speeches, advice-giving tales of caution, and everyone in a high school graduate’s extended family asking them what their plans are now that their senior year has ended.
What we say to parents who are skeptical of the liberal arts education is ,“This is exactly what makes the U.S. [collegiate] education system work.” You’re developing critical skills: working together, collaboration, communication creativity, and adaptability. They are soft skills that really pay off in the long run.
Whether that’s heading off to a four-year university, a two-year trade school, or going right into the workforce, deciding on post-secondary education plans can be incredibly stressful. It’s both a terrifying and thrilling notion (and one many of us are all too familiar with) for those that are still figuring out just what it is exactly that they that want to do.
In this week’s Philosophy Friday, Don McMillan, EXPLO College Advisor and CEO of leading education consultancy McMillan Education, discusses how it actually benefits students to go into college as a declared undecided major.
Ten years ago, majoring in the liberal arts looked like an economic sacrifice. Today, most companies believe that complex problem-solving and applied knowledge in real-world settings are primary elements in becoming a prosperous employee. From McMillan’s perspective, when a third of Fortune 500 CEOs come from liberal arts backgrounds, choosing undecided holds the key to flexibility and success in an uncertain future.
ABOUT CHOOSING UNDECIDED
At EXPLO, we encourage the pursuit of lifelong learning — which means we are constantly doing our own studying up, reading on, or relearning the concepts that we teach throughout the summer. Here are some really interesting (and some just fun) links that we've been recently reading on choosing undecided.
- Looking for some new words of wisdom? Check out NPR's hand-picked selection of commencement addresses, with some archives dating all the way back to 1774!
- You probably have asked yourself more than once, “What do I want?”. Well, here’s a way better question that might get you the answer you are looking for.
- From Silicon Valley to the Pentagon, people are beginning to realize that to effectively tackle today’s biggest social and tech challenges, we need students well-trained in the humanities
- That’s So Crazy It Just Might Work is a future web show about creativity, entrepreneurship, and the power of uncertainty (bonus points for its name)
- Through paleo-archaeology, someone discovered that the emergence of human innovation was driven by a collaboration of our ancestors' cognitive silos. Cool stuff.
- How to calculate the ROI of an undecided undergrad
- Eminem and Elton John or David Bowie and Nine Inch Nails — 15 of the most unexpected music collaborations across genre leads to some interesting music discoveries
- Board Game: Power Grid supplies power to cities all over the world. If you are too busy focusing on expanding a single route, you might miss out on new technology (sounds like a metaphor to us!)
At EXPLO, liberal arts takes many forms, exercises, and events. Just a few EXPLO experiences that encourage students to choose undecided include:
- Exploration Programs: At the heart of EXPLO is a liberal arts mentality — encourage students to explore as many interests and ideas that they can in three weeks time. Learn how to find the right program for you. (grades 4-7, 8+9, 10-12)
- Course: Interested in adding a little science to your soufflé? Investigate tasty chemical reactions in Molecular Gastronomy (grades 8+9)
- Activity: Can't decide between running around at ultimate frisbee or testing your rhythm in salsa dancing? During Activity Period, you don't have to. Split up your afternoon and choose between dozens of activities. (grades 10-12)
- Workshop: Swim. Bike. Run… why choose just one? Complete your very first EXPLO race and become a triathlete in Introduction to Triathlon (grades 4-7)
- Course: Learn how to turn your creative inventions into prototypes, and create a business model that will charm investors and help you secure funding as well in Pitching for Venture Capitalists (grades 8+9)
- Weekend Trip: Fenway Park + Museum of Fine Art — where taking a private tour of the oldest ballpark in America before heading to see some of the oldest art in the world is just another Saturday (grades 4-7)
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