Whenever I tell someone that I’m an English major, it’s usually followed by a surprised or disappointed “oh,” an awkward, polite nod or my personal favorite, “but you seem pretty smart?”
In today’s world, the most popular college majors seem to correlate with the highest-paying jobs out there, specifically in fields like business and medicine. Humanities majors are lessening each year and I hadn’t met any other English majors until well into the start of classes. Even my own university planned an upcoming event aimed at assuring us that there are actually jobs out there for English majors.
At higher institutions, which are boasted for their ability to foster creativity and success in young students, I find it surprising how almost everyone seems to be leaning towards the same specific fields and classes and ignoring all the other aspects of education that surround them. When it comes to universities with thousands (or even tens of thousands) of students, I find it hard to believe that all of them love math and medicine that much. The heavy emphasis being placed on future employment and the job market seems to defeat the disappointing lack of academic diversity there is among college students.
I know that there are some people who are really passionate about economics or engineering and I think that it is very important for those students to be able to explore those fields. However, I also feel that too many students are discarding the subjects they’re truly interested in to appease their parents or their fellow classmates or even to find some kind of self-validation that comes from sticking with a “hard” major even when they hate it.
There is also a need to disregard all of the negative stigmas that surround majors in the arts, humanities and even some social sciences. What holds these students back the most may be hearing about the less challenging nature of their courses or the laxness of their major requirements. I firmly believe that there are different types of intelligence, and while I personally feel dizzy when I look at formulas and equations, I’m confident that I have skills and strengths that can be successfully applied to other academic areas.
What the job market needs isn’t millions of people who are qualified in the same fields; rather, it needs a unique, competitive combination of passionate workers who are dedicated to their areas of study and have something valuable to offer. For some, that may be engineering or medicine, but for others, it could be vocal performance or French literature or archaeology. What I like the most about being at a giant research university is the endless amount of opportunities presented to me here. We should all be able to seize them and allow them to fulfill us.
Lead Image Credit: Tamarcus Brow