Hello there! I found this website earlier today while doing research for a school project, and was immediately blown away. Both the writing and research are phenomenal and show a clear passion for the field of studies it connects to (plus it covers Majora's Mask, so that's a win in my book).
I am currently a senior in high school, so I've been looking all over for colleges and academic programs to pursue. And through your writings, it sounds like we have a lot of similar interests, so I was curious if you could discuss any academic experiences that have helped you pursed your passions.
I've researched a lot of programs from a lot of colleges boasting about what they offer, but I seldom come across first-hand accounts of what those experiences were like (especially recent accounts), so any information is a big help.
Thank you for your time, hope to hear from you soon.
First of all, I'd welcome anyone else to answer this question, as well! I'm sure many here have experiences that would also be a source of guidance to you. But I'll try my best, and get the ball rolling. I will also disclose that my job and my passions, while similar, are not the same: I am a teacher by trade, so there's not a lot of research involved. I'm not engaged with art and architecture on the daily. So, I might not be the best person to tell you how to get the job that best follows your passions, haha. (This is something that I think might be growing harder over time, as well.) But here goes.
I can't help much with specific universities' programs, as I don't know your geographical/financial background, but I'll try my best to discuss academic programs in general. When choosing your field of study, there are, of course, an unimaginable number of things to consider, but if I had to break it down from my 31 years of experience, I'd divide it along these rough lines (these aren't rank-ordered, nor are they of equal importance):
1) Passion - You will probably be miserable if you end up committing your life to something you don't find valuable, or believe to have worth. Humans crave meaning in all things, and our lives are narratives built upon this principle. Don't study something you don't really enjoy, unless, in doing so, you can provide yourself a life that will, in the end, be net positive.*
*I have friends that do this: they work jobs that are ultimately unfulfilling, but that pay well, so that they can pursue hobbies, start families, and have financial freedom to travel, eat out, etc.; if they were working jobs they were passionate about (but which unfortunately don't always pay well), they might not have as much latitude on this front. There are many routes to human well-being, and I can't tell you which is best for you, though I can give general principles.
2) Suitability - You have to choose something that you are suited to do; I'm sure this is obvious to you, as it is obvious to me: I am better at some things than others, even with the same amount of practice. This is likely true for you, too. I'm not sure what these things are, but you are, and those that know you are, too. So, if you find yourself puzzled by geometry and drafting, probably don't pursue engineering; if you cannot find your way around basic Spanish conjugation, translation is probably not for you. (Of course, one can always improve at things, but my basic point stands -- people have different inclinations and skill-sets that push them in different directions, and this is a good thing.)
Here's where temperament also comes in, because it's not just about academic or intellectual skills, but personality and habit. Are you, generally speaking, a people person? Do you want to serve others in life? Or are you most interested in abstraction, and think that you would be best pursuing theoretical knowledge that, for most people, isn't important, but which is important in pushing the boundaries of human understanding? Do you like working with others, or is your calling more solitary? (Of course, sometimes we should do the opposite of the dictates of our temperament, because that encourages growth. I made sure to take classes in language and writing so that I would be forced to work with people, interact, and communicate, and I'm the better for it.)
3) Viability - Ultimately, I hate to say this, but your job has to support your lifestyle. If you are a minimalist who needs few things to survive, then perhaps you can get by with a low-paying job you're passionate about; if you are luxury-minded, I'm sorry, again, but you won't afford your Maserati as a social worker or archivist at your local history museum. Of course, in all things I would recommend simplicity, but you've got to be the judge of your lifestyle and goals. So, don't pick anything that will lead to a mismatch in the future. That's a prime path to disillusionment, disappointment, and other rather icky sentiments.
Are these all the points of importance when choosing a field of study? Nope. Not even close. But, for me, this is the advice I would have given myself. I hope it's helpful.
Let me know if you have follow-up questions; I'll be happy to answer them. And I only realize now that I didn't give many specifics as to my own path, so I apologize for that.
P.S. If you are thinking of a career in the humanities, let me gently disabuse you of solely studying something like history, philosophy, English, religion, or art. To me, these things -- especially art, religion, and philosophy -- are the most important things one can study, just as a human. But there are almost no careers in such things, unless you're prepared to pursue a (highly-competitive) path through a Master's Degree, Doctorate, Post-doc, and then working as a poorly-paid, abused adjunct professor -- a series of events that will likely encompass more than a decade of your future life. My best advice here would be to find a field of study adjacent to the humanities, wherein you'll be able to consider such subjects, but through a different lens. The Digital Humanities might be something to consider, for instance, or education. Again, to make myself clear: I think the humanities are, as the name indicates, the best and most profound subject matter ever generated by humans (after all, what is more important in life than how to live?), but, sadly and candidly, they are severely undervalued by modernity (or they're so perverted in academia so as to be wholly useless), and therefore not viable career paths, on the whole. In short, your education should allow you to make a living, as well as live a good life.
"There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject; the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person."
- G.K. Chesterton
Sorry that it took so long to get back to you. I really appreciated what you wrote, and I love the advice. It's very well written and will definitely be something I'll return to now and again when I'm thinking about my future.
Thanks for everything,
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