“It’s an interesting major, but I don’t know what you’re going to do with it,” is the response I received from my doctor when I told him that I am an English major.
Had I been on top of my game that day, I would have informed him that I am actually interested in going into journalism, and that many English majors go into the fields of publishing, education, and even politics. Instead, I just smiled and laughed awkwardly at his ignorant remark.
This doctor’s reaction to my choice of study is one that I have heard many times before. We at Skidmore attend a college that has established a widespread acceptance for a variety of different majors. For example, English—a major often shunned by college-aged students—is one of the most popular areas of study at Skidmore.
When I tell other students at Skidmore what I am majoring in, most of them are interested to learn more about the classes I’m taking and what I want to do with my degree after I graduate. But, when I step off campus, this reaction tends to change drastically. I don’t mean to say that everyone outside of Skidmore is unsupportive of the English major. There are many people who do appreciate the value of a liberal arts education, in all of its embodiments. However, I have also encountered many people like my doctor who have made me feel inferior because I did not choose to go into the sciences.
Some people seem to think that if you are not on a mathematics or science-based track, you are wasting your tuition money. But each major at Skidmore—be it art history, sociology, government, psychology, or anthropology, for example—provides its students with a unique set of ideas, as well as a lens through which to view our environment, both critically and analytically.
And the truth is, what we choose to study in college is actually becoming less relevant in terms of what we decide to do as a career. Nowadays, employers seem to be more impressed with the fact that a student graduated from college and succeeded in their studies, rather than what he or she specifically studied there.
Skidmore students of all majors go on to do a wide variety of things after graduation. Some go on to law school or medical school, while others participate in gap year programs such as Teach for America or City Year. Some decide to travel abroad, while others find jobs in their field of interest and begin working.
I’d like to dispense with the term ‘useless major.’ All majors carry value. Any future prosperity or societal contribution is dependent on our own hard work and ambition, happiness notwithstanding.