College majors with a liberal arts focus are quick to receive flak but prove to be successful

A response to the question often raised regarding majors deemed “impractical”

Story by Hailey Novak, Staff Writer

We all have fears, myself included, but as a college student I have added one more to the list. I now fear being asked about my major, not because I’m undeclared but because I dread the question that almost always follows: “What are you going to do with that?”

As an English major with an emphasis in creative writing this has come to be the question I now loathe. Accompanying the infamous question is usually a judgmental look or a quizzical stare. I know I’m not alone here, I’m sure philosophy and history majors can agree as they too were deemed among the “Top 10 Worst College Majors” by Forbes Magazine.

It’s no secret as college students, our goal is to have a job after it’s all said and done. Personally, I’m not here to spend thousands of dollars on an education for fun, but I’m not here to have my career path ridiculed either.

“While the arts may be good for the soul, artistic majors are terrible for the bank account,” the Forbes article said.

Who says our bank accounts should be our number one priority? We live in a society that measures success by material goods but this materialistic mindset in no way benefits our mental well-being and overall happiness.

As kids we were encouraged to follow our dreams. No one told us it was impractical to want to be a ballerina, yet somehow as college students, our dreams are now only valid if they will make us a lot of money and fast.

While English majors may be a joke to some, it is worthy to note much of the material we study in school comes from books written by famous authors. Does Harper Lee’s, “To Kill a Mockingbird” ring a bell? In addition, many bestselling authors such as Stephen King and Stephanie Meyer studied English as undergraduates themselves. Who says driven students studying English can’t achieve similar goals?

According to Brain Connectivity, reading fiction (something I do often as an English major) enhanced brain functions such as empathy, visualization, and imagination. In addition it also improves cognition and overall mental health.

“It is about discovering your passion and developing your capacity to pursue and realize a life that is successful and meaningful,” The Department chair of Sociology at Rhodes College said in response to degrees within the liberal arts. English and liberal arts educations provide students with the skills to become effective communicators, critical thinkers, and well-rounded individuals. These abilities make for an ideal employee in many areas of today’s job market.

The Business Insider published an article in 2013 titled, “16 Wildly Famous People who Majored in English”. Among them are Stephen Spielberg, Mitt Romney and Conon O’Brien.

Clearly there is success behind the supposedly impractical English degree of which many are too quick to judge.