A new Ipsos Reid survey of Canadian university students reveals the top five reasons students choose to go to school. Topping the list was desire to stop living with mom and dad, but not to stop sponging off them and have to get a job. The other four reasons, in order: misconception that Canadian schools have US-style fraternities and sororities; dream of a steamy affair with a brilliant professor who will die of old age before semester’s end and leave you everything; belief that a really expensive piece of paper precludes having to climb the success ladder; and last—for only five percent of respondents—an impulsion to improve oneself and the world through learning.
If you haven’t figured out that the preceding survey is a cockamamie lie, you probably don’t fall into the last category. But if you do fall into the fifth category, then I implore you to consider how important interdisciplinary studies could be for transforming yourself from an ignoramus first-year into a world-wise graduate with the potential to affect great change.
The best education makes students well-rounded citizens; the worst sticks horse-blinders on them and shoves them into the world along a single and circular track, with a tiny man sitting on their shoulders and goading them in one direction. Well, maybe there’s no tiny man involved, but you get the idea.
Each faculty has—and not for inimical reasons—unique educational blinders, somewhat of a ubiquitous perspective. Perhaps the greatest divide in perspectives is between the arts and sciences. To get the most of your education, it only makes sense to study widely. Using data from the same survey mentioned earlier, here are some reasons an arts student might take a science class and vice versa:
78 percent of arts-only students polled believe valvular insufficiency can be treated with Viagra.
68 percent of science-only students, when asked their opinion of Michaelle Jean’s run, said the bitch totally deserved to get voted off America’s Next Top Model.
52 percent of arts-only students understand John McCain underwent multiple—but unsuccessful—malignant melanoma removals to cut out the blackest parts of his soul.
93 percent of science-only students assume Stephen Harper hates funding for birth control and abortions because of the risks of blood clots and haemorrhaging.
88 percent of arts-only students think global warming totally sucks and agree we should aim for a nitrogen-free atmosphere by 2020.
Hopefully that compels you to study widely. While an individual faculty may exist within a vacuum, no big ideas do. And no, science students, not the type of vacuum where the atmospheric pressure is greater on the outside than the inside.