About Me

My name is Spencer. I'm 23 years old, and I'm a junior at Princeton. So far college has taken me five years. I've taken time off to work, transferred to USC and come back, and learned a lot along the way.

I like to think about life and what I'm going to do with mine.

I've met a lot of people my age with the same sorts of thoughts so feel free to read, take surveys, and comment.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Academic track in other countries

As far as I can tell, American students are some of the few people in the world who can switch their major as a college junior without any issues. The main point being: most of us Americans don't decide or know what we want to do until we've already graduated or even already had a couple jobs. However, from what I've heard from many friends, students, and family members who grew up outside the U.S., that is not the case in many countries throughout the world.

Let me first be clear and say that I think that freedom to decide is a great thing, and it can be very mentally stimulating; however, at the speed that the world goes at, indecisiveness can drag you behind. Not taking every single class towards your major(s) or minor(s) can lessen the pedigree of your degree and college education. Because of that and especially in the current economic climate, that indecisiveness may be the difference between getting a job out of college and living at home again.

In many developed countries, many students get one chance at standardized exams. If they do well, they go onto higher education and university, but if they do not do well, then they are sent to vocational and technical training schools to be trained for specialized jobs such as auto mechanics and electricians etc. Unlike the United States where, if you can afford it, you may take the SATs as many times as you please.

Also, there is a far greater pressure at a much younger age to know what you want to study and what you want to do as an adult. For example, a few years ago there was an piece on NPR about Job Theme Parks in Japan where elementary school-aged children went to get exposed to jobs they might find interesting. Here's an article in Sky news: http://news.sky.com/home/world-news/article/15196242

In many Asian countries, the expectation to do well is so great that there is an eerily high suicide rate among teenagers. Just Google anything along these lines and you'll find hundreds and hundreds of articles on the subject: http://www.economist.com/node/11294805http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-15331921http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn4846-indian-teens-have-worlds-highest-suicide-rate.htmlhttp://www.atimes.com/atimes/Japan/FG28Dh01.html, etc.

Do you think that this "freedom" to choose whatever classes and tracks we want hinders us or leads us to our passions?

Regardless, as the world works and travels faster and faster, it's hard not to see the correlation between high stress environments and mental pain, disability, and suicide. At this rate, we American students will have to know what we want to do earlier and earlier in order to stand a chance in this world, but that simply means more stress. We're going to have to look out for our friends, children, and students in the future.


*Although I've heard this from many different people in many different countries, keep in mind that I have never lived for longer than a few months in a country other than the United States. I was told these things by students I've met from other countries, friends from abroad, and family members. Perhaps, some international students would like to comment and give their opinions concerning this subject?*

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