As I’m now finishing my business studies, I’m also finishing up my French studies where I previously specialised in literature. Having dipped my feet in both academic departments (business and humanities), it made me realise that the desire to create the well-rounded student may be the biggest existing threat to society today.

Let me explain, each sub species has their own absurd way of status signalling. For example, a business student may state dominance by saying:

“I couldn’t sleep last night; I was up all night case prepping for my final interviews for the MBBs.”

While the equivalent for a literature student may be:

“I couldn’t sleep last night; I was up all night analysing the phallocentric effect of the French language in eighteenth century lesbian literature.”

A business student may mark their territory by putting a JP Morgan sticker on their computer from their internship, while a literature student walks around with a copy of Odysseus filled with post-it notes. The prior may try to influence their surroundings by displaying overwhelming optimism and success on LinkedIn, while the latter prefers posting what they would call an absurdist collection of selfies critiquing postcolonialism on Instagram.

The comparison could go on, but whether they prefer buying preppy clothes from Scotch & Soda or wear what their grandmother donated to a second-hand store, what makes these students tolerable are in fact their insecurities. Literature students marvel in their intellect yet mourn the lack of their future pay check. Business students marvel in their future pay checks yet mourn their lack of intellect because they haven’t read a book in two years except for The Lean Startup.

Yet, what some academics do not comprehend, is that what is even more unbearable than the literature and the business student, is the business savvy intellectual. A person who will not only shove his problem solving and leadership skills into people’s faces, but also likes to quote Plato in ancient Greek and believe that the decay of conversation is due to people not reading Proust anymore.

If we were to create more well-rounded students, we would eradicate the last remains of the bearable person and only create intolerable know-it-alls. We need to ask ourselves as a society: do we really need more well-rounded people, or is what we really need more likeable people?

Dora Tolstoy columnist_nr2-Levien Willemse – Pauline Wiersema

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