The conundrum of choosing arts versus science stream as a career path

When I picked up science as my preferred stream in SSC examination it seemed like an obvious choice to make, one that didn’t required any approval or a rethought. Years later as I sit here writing this post I can tell you one thing for sure, it wasn’t really the best decision of my life. Although I have no doubts whatsoever regarding the advantages technical education has over liberal arts education, it is more about what you as a person are best at doing rather than what is best as per others for doing.  After passing through the travails of my engineering degree unscathed and unwounded miraculously (read without any backs and with first class score) I came to conclusion that writing and music are the two of the most important ingredients of the food that feed my mind.

I am sure that mine is not an isolated story. In India, we have a society that has little love for the unconventional. Herd mentality is what it is appropriately called. Being from a family that has all of its members into science, the path of my education was decided even before I started my schooling. During the whole tenure, I struggled with mathematics. However hard I tried, I just could not get myself to conquer this devil. It was a sign good enough that science was not for me. But I chose to ignore it and spent precious years of my life following a dream that wasn’t mine.      Had I been brave enough to choose arts stream or an arts course during my higher education, things would have been a lot better.

Most of us are caught in this dilemma some time or other where we are travelling a road that isn’t meant for us. Whether it is peer pressure or fear of being admonished for not having enough mental capabilities to understand the concepts of technical education, students often force themselves to make a choice which is miles away from what they really desire.

For long, liberal arts have been a territory of the underdogs or the business class for reasons pretty obvious. While the former could not get into a science institution, the latter do not have to worry about a job.  Who is to be blamed for this situation? Is it the government who has failed to provide financial security to an arts graduate or the parents who fail to recognize the unique talent of their child? Is the education system of India at fault for not having enough flexibility in terms of the different subjects that a student can study or is it we, the subject of this entire discussion at fault because of not following our heart? It is high time that these questions get their answers.

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