“I could never do ______.” “How do you expect to get a job with ______?” Sound familiar? From the second your feet hit the ground at college, you are continually shunted into a “practical” major. A “practical” major is defined by pundits of mediocrity as one that will get you a job after you graduate. I have fallen victim to this dogma time and again only to realize that its supposed path to fulfillment is, conversely, unfulfilling.
I should preface by saying that I am a flighty and indecisive person. Before I invest in anything, I will peruse every dissenting list on Google to dissuade myself. During my first semester of my freshman year as a biology major, I convinced myself that the long hours and terminology would be overwhelming. In my next pursuit of employability as a computer science major, I convinced myself that I didn’t have the proper mindset for writing code. This frustration culminated during spring break, when I wanted to drop out and pursue music. After my emotions had equilibrated, I chose to major in a subject that has fascinated me since I was young: English.
This is one major that I become excited about when I wake up. It’s one that lends no qualms, and fills me with enough certainty to drive the rest of my life. When I’m not in class, I’m always doing something related to English, whether that’s writing for The Statesman, designing the school’s new literary magazine Stargazer or writing music. I juxtapose this assuredness with the distress and hesitance I experienced as a computer science major. Had I not been blessed with reasonable parents, these four years of my life could have been filled with self-doubt and frustration. While my parents’ understood, others still fear that their child won’t be successful with a more creative major, and I’m here to dispel that.
To free people from this toxic sheep mentality, I think it would be most efficacious to view myself as if I were a newly-graduated candidate for a STEM job. I glance down at my application. Since I was dispassionate about STEM, I only earned a 3.0 GPA. Not particularly stellar, but not entirely disqualifying. My internships are scarce, and I’ve failed to secure competitive advantage over my intrinsically motivated colleagues who study each aspect of the field until their eyes grow weary. Did I network? I made a few connections here and there, but only the bare minimum because the subject did not interest me enough to go further. Theory purports that I should still get a job because “I majored in something employable.” The underlying absurdity lies in its lack of consideration for passionate and driven applicants who vie for the same positions in the job market. I am “employable” in the sense that there are job openings, but not necessarily “employable” in a company’s eyes since I have a lukewarm interest and less experience. What would my application look like if I were applying for an English teaching position with an English degree?
I’ll save you a paragraph: probably a lot better.
The shunning of any creative major, like English, creates a society in which passion is only valid if it is scientific. Promoting this narrative is dangerous, as it can veer people away from jobs at which they may have excelled. After that, the theory crumbles: the job market for scientific jobs becomes oversaturated, and we’re left starving for more creativity.