By Connor Smith
Social Media Editor
“What is your major?”
Depending on your course of studies, this one question could elicit a wide spectrum of emotions. A sudden burst of pride would likely follow for any prospective engineering students. Business students might crack a casual smile while trying to downplay their aspirations of bossing around other people’s parents. For anyone that has constantly found their own majors on every “Worst Paying Majors of 2016” list, this question might fill the air with a sense of unnecessary awkwardness. Be it art, communications, drama or English, major shaming is a real problem facing many liberal arts majors around the country.
Having faced my fair share of skeptical friends and relatives, I understand the struggle of constantly defending my life choices. Although salary and employment opportunities are genuine concerns, the notion that one should steer clear of their life’s passion is absurd. With the right mentality and some hard work, anyone can turn a “useless” major into a fulfilling career. Creative minds shouldn’t be trapped in an office. After all — what’s the point of earning a six-figure salary if your entire life is an endless cycle of trying to “get by” until the weekend?
The motto “follow your dreams” now has an added disclaimer: “only if you’re dreaming about STEM.” Otherwise, society has placed an expectation that only “safe” majors — like business and education — are financially viable.
That isn’t a knock on business or education majors. Teachers and businessmen are vital contributors to society. However, I fear this pressure to conform has the potential to stifle the creativity of an entire generation. Imagine if Bob Woodward — The Washington Post reporter who helped uncover the Watergate scandal — studied buisness in place of English. Having the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist cooped up in a sea of cubicles would likely have massive implications on our nation’s history.
For me, working through a good story brings out a sense of accomplishment that no desk job could ever replace. A major in journalism may require a solid portfolio and strong internships, but shouldn’t any worthwhile career require some effort?
If you’re concerned with your major in the humanities, arts or social sciences, consider the wise words of the late professor Randy Pausch, “The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
Bumbling through college with a liberal arts degree is a great way to find yourself as another unemployment statistic. It’s people like that who give your major a bad reputation. Having a plan and making the right connections is important to proving the doubters wrong.
For the anyone else: if you’ve ever faked a smile and said, “that’s nice, but how will you ever get a job?” after an English major shared their ambitions with you, then you are part of the problem. After all, judging someone for committing to their dreams is a good way to end up in their best-selling autobiography.