I have a placing in the National University of Singapore (NUS) and within NUS, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS). After 2 years of my National Service’s (NS) cycle, there will be a 9-months-gap before university starts for me.
Why social science?
2 reasons: first is stupidly obvious because I am in FASS. Second reason is interest: If you are/were part of an education system similar to Singapore, you could be familiar with this question:
Are you more of an arts or science person?
For me, it is the former; but more specifically, the social science aspect of it.
Now that the boring introduction is done, let’s get started:
What is the problematic difference between social science majors and other majors?
Other majors like engineering and businesses focus more on practical knowledge: business teaches marketing , advertising, etc. and engineering teaches the working / science behind engineering which acts as a direct precursor to application modules. Social science? Social science is very much like an extension of pre-university education where research, discussion and critical analysis are the main assessment goals.
That can be an issue because many people see university as an institution that prepares students for employment; and these “non-transferable skills” are redundant and disadvantageous.
A problematic institution for most people is in fact a paradise
Above is a reasonable viewpoint but the book “How to succeed in your social science degree” has an argument against it. Here’s a direct quote from the book:
“Social science does not always lead to practical and immediate solutions; but takes the process of research, critical analysis and debate as an important background features of effective policy. These considerations can be seen as necessary preliminaries for entry into an actual profession as you certainly will not get much time for debate when you are actually in the front line.”
I find the latter viewpoint more palatable because I do agree that the academic features are necessary to fully ventilate issues first before we can issue well-thought-through and effective solutions to tackle it. I mean, do we want to improvise and find solutions as we go, especially when the stakes are high?
Keep in mind that the stakes are indeed high for all of us. Your solutions affects your job performance and that’s going to have a profound effect on your promotion, salary and most of all, credibility.
I am an aspiring politician and policy-analyst, thus the stakes that I’m considering in the future will consist of more than just personal gains – my main concern is that my recommendations are bound to affect hundreds if not thousands of people – the stake will unmistakably be so damn high. I therefore find social science’s approach to be suitable for my own aspiration.
Additionally, I deviate from most people with regards to the viewpoint of whether education should be a mean to employment. I feel that education should be an end in itself, not a tool. The fact is, I used to think that education is a tool but as I indulge long enough in knowledge, I became obsessed.
The more things I knew, the more enlightened I feel and that feeling is not like euphoria. No, not euphoria, it’s not about feeling high, it’s about feeling closer to the truth – it’s almost religious. Just like faith brings people closer to God, knowledge brings me closer to this ideal, non-existent and yet utterly desirable concept called truth.
I know I sound crazy, just like how a lot of religious people sound like to me; but we are not. These are things that gives our lives meaning and it’s just so very human to act this way.