Does being well-rounded help with getting a job?

Grant Rayfield, Online Editor

I’m a senior this year, and so I’ve just made it past the last big milestone of high school – the college application process.  While I would like to be able to say that I got into the schools I wanted to because I did amazingly in every subject, such is simply not the case; while I initially pursued every subject equally in my freshman year, I quickly realized at least what types of classes I could perform better in, and what types of subjects I was interested in.  Through a process of selection, I realized that I wanted to be an engineer, but more importantly than this discovery was the knowledge of how I could reach this goal.  Some students seem to be under the notion that in order to achieve anything in school, a person has to do well in every class, regardless of its relevance to anything one would or could ever imagine studying or using in one’s career.

Parents and teachers frequently tell us that being “well-rounded” students, or academically balanced in most ways, is the best possible combination of skills and invariably leads a person to a successful college education and desirable career path.  Yet not only is the ability for students to be truly equally good at everything very unlikely, when one sets unreasonable expectations for skills that one truly is not very good at and has no desire to improve, the pursuit of balance may inhibit a person’s choice to specialize in a specific skill in a way that few other people can.  With the number of students applying for college this year at an all-time high and with college entrance requirements growing at an accelerating rate, it is becoming all the more evident that a person cannot hope, much less expect, to get a high-quality education from a top school while simply pursuing the generalist’s path; colleges don’t want decent, balanced students – they want distinctive, specialized students who can be the pioneers of their fields, rather than just upper-average cookie-cutter employees.