In the last few weeks, I have read multiple articles from fellow Odyssey writers regarding the difficulty (and lack of difficulty) among college majors. This article serves as a response to both the articles defending majors much like my own; the majors that carry the stigma of being “easy,” as well as the articles defending the “more difficult” majors, so they are called.
I am an English major with a concentration in education, but my collegiate dream and experience did not begin in that major, because the truth is, I hated English and absolutely sucked at it until a I was placed in a great teacher’s class during my senior year of high school. If you asked me what my strong suit is when it comes to school subjects, I would tell you math and science. I have never been in a math class I didn’t understand, I never had to try that hard to make high A’s in math, and I even tested out of college math by scoring a 4 on my AP Calculus exam. In science, the same principle applied. It came naturally to me, and I took nearly every AP science class possible in high school and made high A’s in all of them. Originally, I planned to major in Animal Science and take the pre-veterinary path in college, which is notoriously known for consisting of the “hardest” college classes one can take, (organic chemistry I and II anyone?)
However, when I entered college, I changed my major to English, a major that is consistently called easy, useless and carries the negative liberal arts stigma. Only people who can’t pass the sciences major in English, right? No. English was the hardest major I could have picked based on the skills I built in high school and my track record of classes I excelled in. Let me reiterate how much I hated English and how much I struggled with it in high school. It was never my strong suit. I always enjoyed writing, but I never learned the skills to make it great, until my senior year. That year lit my passion for writing, and that passion changed everything. My composition class during the first semester of my freshman year of college caused this passion to grow, and my confidence in my writing grew with it. I still struggled with writing and I continue to, and I’m sure that will be very evident through the many grammatical errors in this article that I will not catch, no matter how I try. However, even though I struggle with writing and English more than I ever struggled with any of the sciences or the maths, I chose to major in English because my passion for subject overrides the struggles I have with it. I have to put in more effort to this subject, but it is worth because I enjoy the extra effort more than I enjoyed the minimal effort required for my science courses.
It is not realistic to characterize certain majors as easy or hard when every person has their own skill set. One cannot declare the rigor of courses they are not even in. What may come easily to one person may be impossibly hard for another. In high school, I never would have imagined myself as an English major; I was terrible at English and until recently, I didn’t like it either. To this day, I can almost promise that I would have had a much easier time as some type of math or science major because those subjects are my stronger suits. For me, English was the hardest major I could have chose, even though it may have been the easiest major for someone else, and someone else’s major they currently struggle with may have been the easiest major to me. The difficulty of a field of study rests solely on the personal abilities of each individual.
However, the bottom line is I did not chose English because it was hard for me but easy for others. Choosing a major is not about proving how smart you are or about picking the field that is the hardest in order to make a statement. Picking a major is about picking the field that sets your world on fire and feeds the passion in your soul. It’s about choosing the major that will give you a career you are excited to pursue. It should scare you because you are so passionate about it that you don’t want to imagine not succeeding, not because it is so miserably hard that you don’t know how you are going to pass the required classes. The vision of the future should pull you and motivate you to put in the extra effort. I picked English with teaching certification because the thought of my future motivates me in every aspect of my academic career and personal life. For me, there is no better feeling than working hard on a paper and receiving positive feedback. When I write papers, I feel like those words give me power and my ideas meaning. English allows me to be creative and it makes me feel intelligent. I want to teach English because I want to make my future students feel the same way about the written word. I want to teach not only because I want to make an impact on young lives, but also because I want to help each student find their voice and speak up, and I can do so by teaching them the power of words. I want to help them find the satisfaction that comes from writing a powerful paper, just like my English teachers did for me. I didn’t choose English because “I couldn’t do the sciences.” English is hard for me, but I chose it because it made me see a purpose and legacy, and it’s the subject I want to excel at.
Every college major is easy for some people and hard for others, and every person who majors in each field has something to offer the world because of it. Declaring a major is not about making a statement. It is not about pleasing others or proving your intelligence. Declaring a major is about choosing a field that makes your identity grow and causes you to find a purpose. Don’t declare a major because you want to define yourself based on the rigor of the courses. Declare a major because you want to define yourself based on the good you can do because you pursued that field, and you pursued your passion.