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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Mom, This One Is For You As I Leave For College

Thanks for being my best friend.

Dear Mom,

it feels like yesterday that we were jumping up and down in the kitchen while tears of joy ran down our faces as the college acceptances started rolling in. You tagged along on my campus tours and wrote the pros and cons while I listed them off as I paced back and forth trying to make the decision of where my home would be the next four years. As six months till move in day has now turned into less than two weeks I just have a few things to say:

First, I'm going to miss you! Yes, I reminded you every couple of days how close we were to move in day and I've said several times that I can't wait to start this new chapter in my life but, I'm a lot sadder than I let on. In the midst of my excitement I have ignored the thought of not being able to see you everyday, being able to sing in the car with you to the songs we know we can kill, eating popcorn while watching Grey's Anatomy on Thursday nights, or even something as simple as sharing a meal with you.

Secondly, I want you to know how much I appreciate you. Mom, I appreciate everything you have done for me thus far in life. I appreciate you dealing with the stressful side of me that came out while dorm shopping, when I know I didn't make it easy. Thank you loving me and encouraging me these past several years that made me into the person I am today. I am grateful for the sacrifices you have made and will probably make in the future with my best interest in mind. I feel so blessed that you are my sunshine on my cloudy days.

Third, I want to apologize in advance. I know there will be times I'm too busy to come home some weekends or even talk for an hour, despite really wanting to. There will be days filled with stress when I don't want you to know about the test I failed earlier that day or about the argument I had my boyfriend or roommate. Don't take any sass or delayed texts to heart, because you know I'll always call you back, I'll always break down and need your direction, and I'll always need to hear your voice.

One last thing, you will always be my best friend. You are the person who I get all of my advice from and the one who can make me laugh when all I want to do is cry. You turn my bad days into great ones. I can't wait to make you proud as I continue my education and start this new chapter in my life but, I hope you know it's all because of you. Your constant love, support, mother-daughter meals, advice, jam sessions in the car, hugs while I've cried and laughs to make me smile have all made me the person I am today. A person proud to be your daughter and a person who's ready to start college. So, mom, this one is for you!

Thank you!

With love,

Your Daughter.

P.S. thank God for FaceTime, am I right?

Cover Image Credit: Hayley Hughes

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8 Tips i would give to my college freshman self

Yes the cover photo is me as a freshman. Original, right?


Hello, Freshman Year Me,

First of all, welcome to college! Wow, it's so big and beautiful and the world is full of possibilities! But let me tell you Past Me, Current You has seen some things and gained a little knowledge since your wide-eyed self-set foot on campus. Here are some things I wish I could've told you.

1. Tinder is not the be-all end-all of dating

I know you were always ashamed to have this app on your phone and promptly deleted it when you came home for the summer, but you should never feel compelled to re-download that app. You've found two great boyfriends without having to swipe right on them. The guys that you've found through Tinder? Yeah, less than favorable people. Just know your person will come at the right time.

2. You don't have to go to EVERY party you're invited to

Actually, knowing what you went through freshman year, it's probably better for your mental health if you stay home from most parties. You never were one to go out and drink your weight so don't feel you need to become that person. A night home watching a movie with a face mask on is just as much, if not MORE, fun than a night out.

3. Speaking of your mental health...

It is completely normal to go through a period of homesickness and you know Mom and Dad will gladly have you come home for a weekend if that's what it takes for you to be okay. You cannot let yourself get to a dark place because you'll stay there and let the darkness swallow you whole. Find help, reach out, and know you'll be okay.

4. Don't forget about the people who made you who you are

You'll want to distance yourself from your friends back home and will feel the need to shun anyone who tries to talk to you in favor of your 'new college life'. That will hurt more people than it helps, trust me. Your life at college and your life at home are not two separate things.

You don't just trade one life for another and become a totally new person, that's literally not how anything works. Stay in touch and be a friend to people at home and in college.

5. Grades. Do. Not. Matter.

Okay well, they matter in some respect, but you shouldn't feel compelled to get A's on everything like you did in high school. A B- or C+ every now and then isn't the end of the world. Have some fun in college and don't worry about getting the best grade in the class.

6. The Freshman 15 won't happen to you

You'll get lucky in this instance which is odd because time has proved that you're not a very lucky person! But all those scary stories you've heard about excessive weight gain aren't true in your instance. Keep eating your salads from that amazing Flint Dining Hall salad bar and you'll be just fine.

7. Do not become a different person...

Mature and grow, don't be childish and change. You don't need to lose who you are to have fun in college. Stay true to yourself and you'll be okay.

8. ...But have some fun before you die

As Christine from Simply Nailogical says, 'It's time to paint your nails and have some fun before you die." It's college! Get involved, make amazing friends, and do what will make you the happiest. There's no need to please anyone or be a certain person. Just be your fantastic self and I promise good people, opportunities, and hilarity will follow.

Cover Image Credit:

Allegra Carver

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