Mailbox: Non-core subjects are not 'frills'

THERE is general agreement that a university education should prepare a student for a career and for life.

One's life and career do not easily separate themselves into subject areas the way university courses do.

Most jobs today require an interdisciplinary approach to problem solving, and many of us work in jobs not directly related to our degrees.

I had two law degrees and though I never practised law, my legal training has been put to good use throughout my career in investment banking. The further mathematics I studied in junior college and the limited accounting I learnt in law school helped too.

But my education lacked breadth and did not prepare me for life, compared to the education my daughter received in a liberal arts college in the United States.

She majored in both accounting and business administration, and did two minors in finance and economics, in a liberal arts environment where she also took upper-level courses in political science/international relations as well as subjects in areas like psychology, public speaking and intercultural communication.

She learnt French and picked up some Italian in preparation for a programme in Italy, where she studied art history.

I am amazed at the management skills she picked up from her horse-riding course, which required journals of every lesson and a presentation on topics ranging from equine diseases to equestrian sports management.

I do not think any of the subjects she took are unnecessary "frills" ("Stick to 'no-frills' university education" by Dr Anne Chong Su Yan; Aug 28).

Soft skills in presentation and public speaking, communication, conflict resolution and interpersonal relationships are essential in both work and life in general, and it is a definite plus if such skills are learnt in college, be it in the classroom, in the stables or in museums.

Letter from Charis Mun (Mrs)

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