I hear it every day. “My major is harder because...” “That major is a joke.” “Oh, you’re studying ____? Why?” I’m not sure why majors have to be a competition. Quite honestly, it’s weird that we even think they can be. It’s nearly impossible to compare one major to another; they’re simply too different. Every major brings with it its own challenges. Since I attend a liberal arts school, we have general education courses we need to complete in order to graduate. This gives us a great opportunity to experience classes outside our major. Yet, we still seem to be lacking in appreciation for anything outside of our own majors.
We say that “smart” people are attracted to certain majors, and we assume intellect can be measured by the field someone chooses to pursue. We insist that certain majors are more challenging--that somehow, the workload is comparable. I genuinely do not believe that this is true. People choose majors because they want a career related to that major, not because their GPA isn’t good enough to complete another major. Some of the most intelligent people I know are in some of the fields people consider to be “easy.” Being undeclared for almost two years allowed me to explore several different types of classes, and I found that each major brings with it its own challenges. Foreign language majors have to constantly reroute the entire direction of their brain to think in a way they are not accustomed to. Human services majors have to be prepared to work with several different types of people, and they have to learn how to apply the skills they learn to each unique situation they encounter without letting the emotional aspect of a given situation cloud their judgement. Business majors have to learn to work together and become both good leaders and good followers. I’ve heard people say business classes are easier because they often have group projects, but these projects are challenging, as you have to rely on other people for your grade. Even theatre, a major people assume brings you an easy 4.0, brings several challenges. Theatre majors read play after play, and often, they have to learn to understand almost every part of the theatre—from history to performance to tech to management. They spend most of their free time working on shows they need to build a resumé they will need in the professional world. These are not all the majors I learned about, and this is not all the challenges that come with these majors. In fact, it is just the beginning.
For some reason, we declare certain majors as less useful than others. We seem to forget that we need diversity in the world; we don’t remember that we need all sorts of careers to make the world go round. Instead, we choose to encourage stereotypes. Try to recall a few months back when Jeb Bush insulted psychology and philosophy majors everywhere. "When a student shows up, they ought to say 'Hey, that psych major deal, that philosophy major thing, that's great, it's important to have liberal arts … but realize, you're going to be working a Chick-fil-A.'" Are they really? Sure, it’s challenging to get a job in psychology or philosophy, but isn’t it challenging to get a job in most fields? Psych majors responded overwhelmingly to Bush’s comment by using a trending hashtag, “#thispsychmajor,” to explain all of the things they planned to do or were already doing with those degrees. If you have a chance, I’d recommend looking the hashtag up and seeing just how much good those psych majors are doing in the world. This is the case for every major though. I’ve heard it said time and time again that art is not a real major, but I don’t hear anyone complaining about the incredible sculpture they pass in the park or the beautiful paintings they have for their home. We need doctors, we need lawyers, we need politicians, and we need mathematicians. We need nurses, chemists, English teachers and reporters. We need museum curators, accountants, photographers, directors, and performers. Could we survive without some of these jobs? Probably. But do we live in a society ready to get rid of these jobs? Probably not. Do we have use for all of these jobs? Yes. Yes we do.
We can compare majors all we want, but that won’t change the fact that everyone is learning something in their major. It won’t change the fact that every major is challenging the student in a unique way, and it won’t change the fact that we need various jobs to create the society we desire. No degree is useless. Instead of insulting other majors, try walking a mile in their shoes. Seriously, think about what challenges that major would present, and be grateful for the fact that we have so many fields of study. If we had a world full of only doctors, we wouldn’t have food, we wouldn’t we wouldn’t have homes, and we wouldn’t have education. Without the variety of educational paths, we wouldn’t be able to uphold our society.