‘Useless Majors’: Who defines their limits?

“What can you even do with your major?”

I’m willing to bet you’re all too familiar with this question, particularly if your major is focused on liberal arts or majors considered “outside the box” so to speak; maybe you have even asked this question yourself. It’s easy to wonder why someone would invest thousands of dollars in a major that will seemingly leave them out of a job post-graduation, but often people fail to realize what all is out there.

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) majors have the advantage of specialized areas. If they’re studying physics, math or engineering, their options are a probably a great deal more secure—and narrow. They still have options, but their chances of finding a secure job are stereotypically higher than someone pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree. Often, those pursuing less risky job markets are baffled and left wondering how the rest of us are going to manage to find a job, much less financial security.

Let’s look at the stereotypes for a moment. Art and Music majors can either become teachers or freelancers struggling to make ends meet. History majors can become teachers or maybe work in a museum. Film majors can get lucky or shoot weddings. Nobody seems to really know what Communications or Mass Communication majors do. The walls set up for these areas of study are pretty confining and look depressingly pointless. Unless you want to become a teacher or manage to catch a break, it seems like a waste of a collegiate experience.

Now, break open the box; it’s time to think outside of it. Not only is college a time of exploration, it’s a time to figure out what you want.

“People need to keep their options open and experiment,” Biomedical Science major Morgan Barrentine said. “When I was a Health Science major, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I took classes I wasn’t sure if I was going to like or not, because I wanted to figure out what I didn’t want to do. Now I know what I want to do.”

The world is as big as it is wide. If you get creative, you can find jobs you didn’t even consider were out there. Art majors can design logos for companies, as well as design merchandise and websites. Music majors can write jingles for commercials or go into music therapy. Film majors can also do commercials, training videos and news. Mass Communication majors can do just about anything as well, from television to writing to public relations, and the list could go on. You can specialize in one thing, such as Business Finance, and merge it with The Wall Street Journal, for example.

“To me, there aren’t any useless majors as long as you know what you like doing,” Barrentine said. “If you know what you like doing, then do it.”

Many people think that liberal arts majors only want to make it big. They have this misconception that Hollywood or New York is the end goal, but really there are attainable and realistic jobs with just as much quality and satisfaction to be gained.

In fact, liberal arts jobs are everywhere in your daily life.

“See the clothes you’re wearing, the movies and TV shows you watch, the books you read, everything you learned in school [that wasn’t STEM] – generally the result of a liberal arts major,” sophomore English major Quinn Kobrin said.

Having a Bachelor of Arts degree doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have options. On the contrary, you have an incredible amount of options. You just have to look for them.


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