In Defense of “Easy” Majors

“She’s in COM? No wonder she never studies.” 

“CGS kids are only here for their money.”

“English major?  Oh, your workload probably isn’t too bad then.”  

“You study biomedical engineering? Wow! That sounds really hard! How do you keep up?”

"Okay, no one’s major is really that easy. Except for art majors. Wait, are you an art major?"

You hear it all the time, and during finals season, it gets even worse. In a competitive environment like Boston, where your worth is measured by your intelligence and academic performance, everyone is trying to separate the true intellectuals from the “fakes.”  In a university setting, this translates to judging people based on their perceived workload. And it’s absolutely toxic. There’s a general hierarchy of college majors: art and humanities on the bottom, communication fields and social sciences up next, followed by business, and the almighty STEM majors on top. My question is: who gets to decide what is hard and what is easy? I don’t think there is any real way to compare difficulty levels of any majors.

Hear me out.  Humanities majors constantly get flack for being too easy, and their assignments are heavy on essays. Have you ever seen an engineer try to write an essay? A good portion of engineers struggle with or hate essay writing, meaning if they tried a major in the humanities, they would actually find it quite difficult. To others, writing eloquent essays comes easily, so they choose fields to suit their talents. On the other hand, I’ve heard some people say they chose computer science because they thought it was easy, even though it’s generally considered a harder major.  Everyone has some subjects that come easier to them than others, and an “easy” major may be difficult for a perfectly intelligent person and a “hard” major may be easy for someone else.

If you’re still wondering about the arts majors, I want you to think for a while about how many long hours go into mastering an instrument, how many rehearsals it takes to put on a play, and how much precision goes into a painting. Producing art⁠ — let alone good art ⁠— on a regular basis, with or without inspiration, is quite a feat. Many people who look down on the arts are people who can’t carry a tune and can somehow make stick figures look particularly hideous. They could never be accepted as an art major to begin with, let alone find it easy once they started.Also, it’s important to keep in mind how much work someone has to do before they can get a job in their field. Even if an engineer has more work to do in undergrad than an art history major does, the former may ultimately do less work for their education than the latter. The engineer can likely get a well-paid job in their field after undergrad without grad school, whereas the art history major has to volunteer in a museum for a few years and get a PhD before they can get a well-paid job in their field.  

Ultimately, there is no litmus test to find out who is busiest and who has the hardest life. There are too many factors to even measure. And even if we could know for sure, there is no reason to put down the work of others in order to feel better about ourselves. This is hurtful and damaging behavior, and we would find ourselves happier people if we learned to appreciate everyone’s hard work.

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