Passion prevails

Have you ever been told to stop wasting your life on something trivial? What about being torn away from something you enjoy because it’s not nearly as important as homework? For many students, these harsh words leave them discouraged. This unnecessary stress on students by pressuring them towards certain careers is not only unnecessary, but also harmful.

With 40 percent of students chronically disengaged from school, according to, the stakes are already drastic. When students are asked to excel in advanced classes they have little interest in, it is little wonder they are not successful. While school contains a few outlets for creative expression, they are often cast aside as meaningless electives, not as important as core classes. Even students with interests that fall into the realm of academia–a fascination with literature, an aptitude for numbers, or a focus on science–are often forced to work in subject areas that do not meet their aptitude. A math whiz will get more attention from their parents for their failures an English than their overwhelming success in their favorite fields.

With choosing classes and colleges just on the horizon, countless students will be influenced by their parents and teachers to pursue courses and majors with a concrete career at the end. Rather than the art class that the student craves, they may be pushed towards the memorization focused AP Art History for the grade, or for how it looks on college applications. Students wanting to attend art school may be similarly pushed away.

Have you ever been discouraged from pursuing an interest?

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Most of this pestering comes from good intentions. Students who are successful in high school and college are often more accomplished, at least financially, than their peers, and that leads many well meaning adults to push students into traditionally successful careers. While this ‘guidance’ comes from a  place of good, it can easily discourage students with different interests, leading them into an array of harmful effects.

Well, that is just the short term, right? Surely, in the long run, pushing students towards academic success will be worth the trouble. That idea is overwhelmingly false. After years of being told how to succeed, many students land themselves in college, digging themselves into debt that they are sure they can repay with the job they do not want. While it is true that there are more engineers than artists, there are enough artists that someone with a true passion will be able to find a passable job. As for income, studies have shown that the satisfaction tied to increased salary only persists until salaries reach $75,000, well short of the average of $88,271 that those in the gaming industry make.

Furthermore, those jobs that students are pushed toward are unlikely to bring satisfaction. While this may seem like a minor problem, science shows that low job satisfaction can be tied to serious problems, including low self esteem, depression, and anxiety. With such serious problems at stake, and so few long term benefits to happiness or contentedness, there seem to be few reasons for students to only consider those fields with the highest economic payoff. In this context, such a worldview seems dangerous not only to the student themselves, but to the future of a creative world.

There are plenty of merits to the salary driven careers, from financial security to acclaim from peers, but for students with other passions, the rewards are simply not worth it. Neither in the short run, or the long run.