“So dear, what are you going to do with that major?” Chances are if you aren’t anything but a science, technology, engineering or mathematics major you have received this question before. Today in our advancing technological society there is heavy pressure on young students to pursue a degree in the sciences. America is a superpower that is driving to become more innovated and advanced in the development of their scientific knowledge. We do not have all of the technology that some other countries have come to possess and in turn a lot of our jobs are being exported. This causes the pressure to encourage students to pursue this line of work. It is often seen as the only path that will offer a definite career after graduation. I find that this emphasis on science-y degrees devalues Liberal Arts and Humanities majors. More and more frequently have these pursuits become devalued and misunderstood. It is assumed that if you are a History or English major you will automatically have to become a teacher or that if you pursue a degree in art or dance you will be left without any possibility of a job after college other than flipping burgers at McDonalds.
While there are less careers that stem directly from, say, history or dance, the skills obtained from studying these subjects can be applied to a wide variety of different jobs. The problem is that people are quick to discourage these students. “You’re never going to get a job with that major.” “What could you possibly do with a literature degree? You’ll have to be a teacher.” There seems to be a much higher value placed upon a degree in the sciences than there is in humanities. I know as a humanities major with a group of bio and chemistry friends I have felt overlooked. I’ve noticed that people automatically don’t consider you as academic if you aren’t a science major. The fact is, the two types of majors are so different they can hardly be compared. I had always been a high achiever in high school and did very well in my math and science classes. I took AP bio and calculus, but by the time I got to UCSB I realized that I enjoyed liberal arts and humanities classes far more. It wasn’t the fact that I couldn’t handle these classes, it was that I was more naturally inclined to pursue studies in a different field. Because of this I felt as if people automatically assumed that I was less intelligent than my scientific peers.
One of the biggest myths of college is that your major has to lead to your future career. There is a lot of pressure to study something that will place you in the lap of a perfect job in your “field”. It didn’t matter if you loved to dance or if you really enjoyed history, neither of those led to a definite career so they were automatically discredited. I felt this pressure heavily while deciding on a major here at UCSB. I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do when I came into school but eventually chose global studies out of a love for languages. However, I had always been a competitive student and loved to push myself. I felt pressure that I was not fully exerting myself academically unless I picked up a scientific major.
One of the biggest myths of college is that your major has to lead to your future career.
The truth is that we, as a society need creative people equally as badly as we need scientists, engineers, mathematicians etc. It is essential to have people in the workplace who understand other people, who know how to write, who have the ability to create visually pleasing designs, or who understand the complexities of different cultures. We need people to write the movies that we watch and the books that we read. Creative people are in charge of the development of our modern culture. Its true, some art majors might not automatically achieve monetary success after graduation, but a biology major is conversely not guaranteed to get a job in their field after graduation as well. My dad who works at AT&T always likes to tell me that he has hired Bio, Chem, and even the rare Ph.D. students for sales positions in the company and that their major does not affect his decisions.
However after talking to a lot of really helpful counselors I came to realize that there shouldn’t be so much pressure on what you pick to study. You are in school to get a bachelors degree and to exercise and develop your mind. It is important to choose to study something you love and you are passionate about and worry about the jobs that are available when you graduate. The important thing is to be passionate about what you are studying. As important as it is to get a good job, it is equally important to be a well-developed person. No matter what you major in, your experience here at UCSB prepares you for the future.
Katherine Anderson is majoring in the widely respected field of Nexustentialism, but empathizes with those who will obtain a less revered degree.