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Why I chose my degree.

11 June 201503:09AMintrospection

I've never really articulated why I picked that Arts degree. The fact that I did pick it is - still - pretty surprising to a lot of people. There was some logic to it, but it's not logic I've ever really shared.

So here's that logic. I really love science. I really love all kinds of things, actually. I love them all so much that I just can't choose. I don't have, and have never had, the slightest interest in specialising, because the act of specialising cuts off too many other fields. This is why I took ancient history and top level maths alongside each other in high school. This is why I applied for special approval to overload to take economics at university. The idea of picking one field and focusing on it to the exclusion of all else just seems incredibly limiting. And once you start climing a ladder in one field, it becomes very difficult to break out of that field and in to something else.

So the question then becomes: How do I turn dabbling into a career? More accurately, how do I get paid to dive into a field head first from scratch over and over again without having that experience turn into an obligation to stay in that area.

From that perspective, journalism looks like a pretty good choice. Jump in to a thing. Learn it. Figure it out. Crawl from the very basics to the shiniest, sparkliest new stuff as quickly as your brain can handle it. Have some fun with it.

And then maybe along the way, share it with some other people and get paid. Both of which are actually extremely satisfying in and of themselves.

And as much as it pains me to say it, a science degree won't teach you how to communicate effectively. Knowing a lot about astrophysics won't actually necessarily help you explain how the universe works to other people. Doing The degree was always about acquiring the skillset, not the knowledge.

So this is the situation I find myself in. People are asking me - and I'm asking myself - what comes next. There's definitely a vague expectation that I should do some kind of science degree, because science, or the periphery thereof, is the field I've found myself in. But from this perspective, looking at what I want to do with science, an actual science degree might not be the right answer.

I'm not sure what is yet, but I'll let you know when I find it.


"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." — Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

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