A Response To Liberal Arts Critics, I'm Not Ashamed Of My Degree

A Response To Liberal Arts Critics, I'm Not Ashamed Of My Degree

No, I don't want to get a degree in engineering.

If you were to ask my eight-year-old self what I wanted to be when I was older, there wouldn’t be a pause before I shouted, “A writer!”

The collections of stories that were hoarded underneath my bed, printed out on computer paper and filled with plot-lines that were extremely similar to various Disney channel original movies (looking back I realize my real talent had just been being a savvy plagiarist) were pieces of me that made me who I was, and were the same pieces that made my father angry when he found out another ink cartridge had to be replaced yet again.

I was going to be a writer.

There was no quiz on the back of a J14 magazine that could tell me otherwise. I was astonished once when I took one of those and ended up with a prophecy that foretold my future as a “flight attendant” because I had answered mostly Bs rather than As or Cs.

Impossible, I thought. I was destined to have someone to read the words I had written someday. My stubbornness refused any tarot cards or any Magic 8-Balls that insisted otherwise.

So why was that same girl, almost ten years later, sitting on the phone with her mother inside a dimly lit a dorm room questioning something she had been so sure of her entire life?

For many of us who have found themselves on a track of liberal arts rather than STEM-related fields, it is typical to have heard some type of criticism for the choosing of our degree.

I’ve found the height of these to be found in party settings with nosey distant cousins that usually ask if I have a boyfriend first. After that dreaded question, I feel a sort of shame come on when asked my major. “Communications,” I tell them, as I brace myself for the rude curiosity that begs to know more.

“What are you going to do with that?” is a typical response heard just as often as, “Are you going to go to law school after your undergrad?”

Both my mother, sister, and brother had followed the STEM path - my brother, as much as I hate to give his already-big-ego a boost, followed the pre-med path, becoming a vet. When he was in undergrad as a biology major I had never once heard any follow up questions like the ones given to me.

I’m not here to prove why liberal arts majors are important. I’m not here to throw statistics at you that prove that I will land myself with a job. I’m not going to justify that a dream of a two car garage and a wrap around porch is, indeed, plausible for me. Because frankly, I’m not going to feel shameful about someone else’s perception of successes.

For those of you doubting me, I press you to exit this article and type in your questions about the legitimacy of liberal arts majors into your Google search engine. Or, you could save yourself some time and try, “Why is my life so unexciting and sad that I find myself immersed in the judgment of other people’s lives?”

Your mother on the other end of the line is correct: You’re going to be alright. And this isn’t because you chose to switch to business or teaching or because you stuck with that English major.

You’re going to be alright because your major does not determine where you will land. Your passion, your drive, your focus, and your ability to block out self-doubt and these criticisms will.

You cannot force yourself into a career that doesn’t reflect upon who you are.

I played six different sports throughout my adolescent career and I remember a girl from my soccer team laughed at me for quitting. The girl that ridiculed me for backing down? She absolutely hated the sport. Complained every single practice. That’s when I realized I shouldn’t be the one shamed, but she should. What a fool she was to commit herself to something she absolutely hated.

I hope you all get that two car garage. I hope you all throw a party and drink red wine on that wrap around porch with the people who believed in you all along. I hope you find days of ease that are never met with an echo inside of your head that says you should have or you could have.

I hope you believe in yourself, lost liberal arts major because I believe in you.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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There's A Psychological Reason Why You Absolutely Hate Group Projects

It's about time I need to stop going to bed at two in the morning.

As a sophomore high schooler, I'm ready to start a petition to end all school projects. Given the chance, I would throw group projects in particular off the face of Earth. I'm a fairly open and social person, and I enjoy being a part of groups. However, what I've noticed the past few weeks is that people are never there when you need them. People are unreliable and don't contribute to these group projects, and enough is enough. It's about time I need to stop picking up after people, and it's about time I need to stop going to bed at two in the morning.

In every group project, you encounter many types of people, and it seems impossible to get everyone to work together. We all have different schedules, which makes meeting up an issue. There are often times when group members end up "sick" or "are busy." To have someone show up is, in fact, a miracle.

Not only that, but not all group members contribute equally, despite every promises to work equally. One person always ends up doing more, if not, all the work.

And often, you find yourself surrounded by people that you dislike.

So you start to wonder, what's the point of all this? If adults hate working in teams, then why are they making us do so as well? If they want us to learn, then why aren't we learning anything?

Group projects have such a bad reputation, and often times, we fail to see its intent and purpose. I constantly hear people complain about the situation, blaming the teacher for this assignment. But, perhaps, we're at fault for doing poorly on our group projects.

Group projects are examples of diffusion of responsibility, the phenomenon in which individuals are less likely to take action in the midst of a group due to the belief that others will take on the responsibility, also known as the bystander effect. These two theories intertwine so tight that they are used interchangeably at times. Both state that when more people are around, the less inclined an individual is to do anything about a situation, which lessens the burden on the individual.

There are factors that influence the diffusion of responsibility. An individual may either feel unqualified to take action, or an individual simply doesn’t know what’s going on. Additionally, an individual is less inclined to help unfamiliar faces.

In the context of group projects, people are not as motivated to work towards a common goal. Naturally, people will rely on others to take on their responsibility. Often times, this will put the weight of the project on one person, causing them to do much more work than necessary.

Since group projects usually result in a collective grade, there’s no individual accountability. People tend to pull back, leaving others with more workload. Your individual responsibility doesn’t feel as important anymore because you believe that the others on your team are responsible as well.

A couple of weeks ago, we were assigned a video project. The minimum number per group was two and the highest four. I originally wanted to keep the group small, for I was afraid that I'll end up stressing more. My friend and I started out as a group of two, and we added somebody else upon consideration. And at the last possible moment, the group of three became a group of four.

I was not happy with the arrangement. To be frank, I was disappointed with everyone. I had expected better work ethics, work quality and most importantly, better signs of responsibility.

Like I predicted, I stressed over everyone else's work. People just simply didn't feel the incentive to put in effort, seeing that there will be others that will take over their part for them (which was true). Being the "control freak" of the group, I was the one nuisance that annoyed people into doing their work. But where's the motivation in that? They're only working so that I could stop bothering them. Deep down, they knew that I'd much rather do the entire project by myself than to work with them any more.

Another reason why group projects are despised is that you can’t express your individuality in a group project. There's pressure to not speak out for what you want in fear of being judged. Often times, your opinions or ideas don't align with what others are saying. Everything is subjective. What you think is good is someone else’s bad. What you believe is urgent is probably the opposite of others. Whether you’re working with one person or as a team of five, you have to compromise. And often times, you have to sacrifice something you want in order to make everyone else happy.

And as much as we hate to admit it, in the end, it is everyone's fault.

The purpose of a group project is to get everyone to work and learn something new as a team. Teachers assign group projects in hopes that people will learn from others and utilize each other's strengths to create a masterpiece. Though this seems like a good idea theoretically, it’s not the case in most situations.

But also keep in mind that in the end, it is your project. You're responsible, and you have to be able to learn how to lead. You have to be able to work together as a team, despite the challenges and the clash of opinions. So if you end up being a disappointment to your peers, they’ll do damage control to save themselves from a failing grade. Although it may work out for you, not being responsible for your actions will cause hostility and grudges. Your partners will never really look at you the same ever again.

And if you are the one who is driven insane due to the weight of the entire assignment on your shoulders, I applaud you. Though the stress is practically crushing you now, it'll eventually pass. Take a deep breath because you got this. Though others may never admit it, you are the backbone and deserve the world.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash / Clem Onojeghuo

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7 Tips For Interview Success

Interviews happen at all stages of our lives!

Interviews can be really daunting, especially if you've never had a professional interview. We all remember the nerves we had the first time we interviewed and it can be difficult to feel confident at times. However, interviews and talking to people you've never met are an important part of life. Since we will all go through an interview at some point in our lives, here are some tips for success!

1. Prepare, prepare, prepare!

An interviewer can easily tell if you have prepared for the interview. Even if you are nervous, it is obvious you put thought into your answers if they are clear, concise and answer the questions being asked.

2. Always have a resume.

Don't just have one copy, have multiple! You would be surprised at how many people don't bring resumes to an interview, so this will set you apart and make you appear more professional. Make sure to have someone you trust check out your resume before you print it!

3. Dress professionally.

Google business professional dress! For my friends that are men, khakis are not business professional. Make sure your jacket and pants match in order to make an excellent impression! It's never fun to lose points for something as simple as dress.

4. Research the organization or industry.

Doing your research is key to thriving in any interview. The second an interviewer hears you mention specific goals, values or the mission of the organization or company, you get bonus points. When people research the company, interviewers can tell that they actually care about the organization and want the job or position.

5. Tie your answers into the position you want.

A big mistake in interviews is answering the questions without tying them to the organization or why you are a good fit for that position.

6. Ask for contact information.

Another way to make yourself stand out is to ask for the emails or contact information of your interviewer(s) at the end of the interview. Sending a follow up email can be the difference between a good and great candidate.

7. Know how you will add value to the organization.

Be prepared to answer questions about how you will add value to the organization and what unique skills you have! There is only one you, so don't be afraid to show people that!

Cover Image Credit: https://www.stutteringhelp.org/content/7-tips-preparing-job-interviews

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