Changing disciplines

Switching course A considerable number of science students are taking up Bachelor in Arts programmes in institutes these days.

A few years back, those who opted for a BA programme were mostly seen with a tint of an inkling on their intelligence and contrarily, science graduates were perceived as admirable IQ creatures. Such perceptions are toppling down nowadays, demanding the introspection towards the way we categorise our graduate programmes.

Students opting completely a new discipline than the stream they are trained to take up as a career has become a common practice now. The basic training till +2 or graduation wouldn’t necessarily lure them to take up the same path in their graduation or in masters anymore. In recent times, the choice of a course is not linked to marks. Even those who are in the race to become an engineering or medical professional are moving towards the humanities stream.

Technical education institutes are well aware of these trends. On one hand, admission for their programmes is decreasing by the year whereas on the other hand some of these engineering institutes are investing in Media or Economics schools. 

Science to humanities

A considerable number of science students are taking up Bachelor in Arts programmes in reputed institutes. Many colleges and universities confirm this pattern. There are two strong reasons for this phenomenon; one is the academic and parental pressure CBSE and ICSE students go through. Parents might think that science could offer more options than arts or commerce. The second reason is the diversity of current humanities programmes. Though students score decent marks, by the time they complete +2, they are desperate to get out of the mechanical world they are forced to act upon. Science programmes might not have made them love their studies.

At the post-graduation level, at least 20% of students from commerce, business administration and computers join communication or literature programmes. They are so definite about taking up arts programmes while they are still in other programmes and generally build a noticeable profile to ensure their admission to humanities stream later. Mostly students of non-arts background come up with a profile to support their inclination by making short films, publishing articles or at least by doing a media internship. While some work in a theatre group, some run a blog.

Opting humanities programmes could be attributed to the wide range of courses students are offered now. One could study Music with Psychology, Journalism with Psychology, Journalism with English, Media with Theatre or Media with Economics. 

In the past, either these combinations never existed or they weren’t guaranteeing a secured career. In addition, these courses also offer safe and flexible options to switch over within the humanities disciplines for further studies. Though students are clear about getting out of science programmes (mostly after +2), they may not be sure of humanities’ perspective. Hence, they would like to keep their options open with a triple major programme. In some universities, a major and minor would serve the same purpose.

In the course of three years, either they develop an inclination towards one area or start working mostly in a media house or in a corporate firm. Those who can write comprehensively would find one type of job and those who have specific technical skills would find another career. Some of them would get into higher studies in one of the subjects. Apart from the Communication programme, one can opt for emerging areas like Imagineering, Brand ecology, Corporate Communication, Cultural Studies, Linguistics and a range of specialisation in the Psychology stream in postgraduation. 

Arts and vocational

Earlier, polytechnic colleges providing Diploma in Cinematography, Editing or vocational courses were fulfilling the demand gaps of technical needs. Both these spaces are taken over by humanities courses which train students theoretically as well as practically.

Most of the BA courses have an internship or practical component. In the case of media programmes, there are courses purely of practical nature. Students ought to make designs, produce pictures and short films. In the whole process, students are exposed to a range of skill sets which guarantees them a job. Equipment like the camera is not an expensive affair, nor the knowledge which is freely available. Similarly, Psychology offers rigorous practical exposure.

The change in discipline could be attributed to many reasons like that of increasing scepticism towards technical education as well as to the influence of the media industry. Though one may not get payroll like a software engineer after a humanities programme, there are enough opportunities for a decent career. Such ventures have different kind of practical challenges. Also, the demand for psychologists and media professionals is not yet saturated.

(The writer teaches at Christ, Bengaluru)

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