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Defending Your Liberal Arts Major: Thanksgiving Edition


With Thanksgiving a few days away, I’ve been thinking about all the annoying questions I am going to hear (and probably have to answer) from friends and family at the Thanksgiving table. Don’t get me wrong, I love when people ask me questions about things like “How’s Boston?” or “Do you like your roommate?” because those aren’t loaded questions. However, it is highly likely that a family member will inquire about my major, and more specifically, they may ask: “What do you want to do with a Sociology degree anyway?” In order to prepare myself to answer this as kindly as possible, and to help my peers sitting in the hot seat during the holidays, I have answered some variations of the above question…

1. In the past, family members and friends have asked, “What do you plan to do for the rest of your life?” after I tell them what major I am pursuing. To this, I graciously reply, I HAVE NO CLUE. Maybe non-profit work. Maybe writing. Maybe both? I would prefer to go with the flow, thank you very much.

2. One of the most offensive variations, but evidently a popular one is: “Why are you wasting your education on a degree that won’t get you a job?” In response, I smirk and say, The mere accomplishment of graduating college does not necessarily result in obtaining a job immediately afterwards. It may not even yield a job that I have dreamed of for my whole life. And look at BU alum, Jenna Marbles—she makes a living off of making silly Youtube videos. If all else fails, there’s always Youtube.

3. Often I find the older generation just doesn’t understand that society evolves and so do people. They essentially solicit, “Ever heard of (insert straightforward major here)? You may like it.” To which I am truly puzzled and may not have an answer. But, I attempt to pass on some wisdom and tell them, We are not the same person so we have different passions. Majoring in Sociology allows me to explore the options in my current fields of interest, as opposed to committing to one thing that I may no longer like in the future.

 If you are majoring in something that leads people to think you won’t have a promising future (like me, apparently), take these inquiries with a grain of salt. Inform the person of opportunities you could have by pursuing this major or career path. Remind this person what school you are attending (hello, we’re the seventh most employable in the country!). Or, you always have the option to ignore them completely and ask them to pass the cranberry sauce. 

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