Before starting to study, one’s own strengths and weaknesses should be explored. That’s easier said than done.
Adolescents and young adults who are considering studying to study are generally aware of their interests but not their actual abilities. This is because they receive contradictory signals: Although certain interests have already emerged in school (such as the preference for physics, mathematics, foreign languages, history or German), these interests are not always the basis of career choice.
Change in the world of work
Instead, they often study “in line with the market” to improve their own chances on the job market. Moreover, there is still the ideal of an early-chosen, one-off, career path that will be taken for life – even though this idea is more and more a thing of the past and only a few newcomers have the prospect of the convenience of having been employed for decades.
The call for greater flexibility that flows through labor market offerings is by no means an end in itself or a slogan, but a necessity given the rapidly changing markets and technologies.
There is no model solution for the appropriate study, but the path itself must be found. An initially wrong decision is usually still more useful than an exaggerated hesitation. Anyone who studies a subject that does not suit him or her will at least no longer give in to illusions and can, in the end, still change.
An intelligence test, such as that carried out by the highly gifted organization Mensa, offers the opportunity not only to experience one’s own IQ, but also to have the answers evaluated according to specific areas – such as logic, mathematical abilities or spatial imagination. This helps to get to know your own strengths and weaknesses better.
The modern, scientific and digitized world is always bringing forth new specialists in ever smaller special areas. Where are the generalists?
Progress through specialization
Specialization and division of labor are important features of science and economics; Those who limit themselves to a small field of expertise can penetrate significantly deeper, they gain experience and knowledge, become better, faster, work more efficiently and can – in cooperation with experts in other areas – contribute to increased added value in the economy.
In science, a similar dynamic of progress applies; While universal learning was the ideal in the age of the Renaissance, this ideal has long since become unattainable in today’s extremely fast progress of knowledge in almost all scientific fields.
Where to go with the versatile ones?
Those who do not concentrate on an area early on, who do not commit themselves to pursuing a career once embarked upon, quickly become suspected of lacking stamina, under some circumstances their behavior is also interpreted as a convenience.
But to be enthusiastic about many different things, to constantly learn new things and to lose some of the overview here and there does not have to be a general disadvantage in life.
Emilie Wapnick points out in her lecture on “multipotentialites” – ie people with many, partly also completely different potentials, that it is not a weakness to be interested in many things.
On the contrary, there are certainly synergy effects and creative ideas when people work in more than one area. This is the basis for many innovations and helps solve unconventional tasks, such as those faced by young entrepreneurs and founders.
What to study?
Who wavers between many subjects – not out of disinterest, but from diverse, possibly conflicting interests – should not despair about it and in no way renounce a decision. Perhaps a generally designed degree program, such as philosophy, is initially the best choice – if only to better understand one’s own strengths.