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A ‘Caste System’ of Majors

This past week, I picked up a copy of Time and a particular article, by a woman who graduated from Princeton, caught my attention. She explained how she worked as a teacher during the summer, and how everyone kept asking her why she was wasting her time teaching instead of getting a high-paying job considering her academic achievements and the school she went to. She rebutted by asking if the children (and future) of America did not deserve the best. It was a refreshing article overall and it led me to thinking about university education in general.

Think of how people describe their choice of major or future career. At this point, the medical, engineering and law students become quite big-headed about their majors. Okay, so they work hard, but who doesn’t? Personally, I have found and still find it disgusting that in a society like ours that is supposed to be “enlightened,” there is a caste system in place in our universities. What makes the medical student better than the English student? What gives the engineering student the right to look down on the geography student?

The fault does not lie with the students alone. This caste system is also accepted and perpetuated by the professors, parents, industries, the media, and others. We should not forget that it is not only the engineers, doctors, lawyers and business people that helped in making our society one we are proud of. I do not know why it is so wrong to want to be selfless and serve your community. As the teacher in my example said, “don’t our children and society in general deserve the best?” Or does the best now belong to only the private companies and defense researchers?

When most “top tier” schools (I hate the idea) make announcements of the achievements of their alumnae, it’s always about those who became rich, invented something, donated to a fund, or made news. What about the forgotten important alumnae? The ones that go on to become teachers, social workers, soldiers?

The current pride of these so-called top tier schools will be their ultimate downfall. Students have to start learning to respect one another’s majors. Believe it or not, not everyone wants to have something to do with a startup or stock options. Let there be comradeship once again in our institutions of higher learning. One does not need to look down at others just to make one feel more important to society. It would be great if this new attitude of comradeship began in MIT but it will probably begin in Berkeley, since they are better at taking first steps (just joking).

Bukola Afolayan G