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Why I Believe Studying Literature in University is Just as Important as a Business Degree

I’ve been told, by relatives and even talking to others in school, that a literature major is the highway to a career as a Starbucks barista. In other words, majoring in literature or anything within an art’s program is not a worthy endeavor.

Consequently, the department of arts and social sciences gets a bad rep for being a useless degree that it has become the joke of university degrees. So much so, there are memes about it on the internet like the “achieved literature degree might as well change to failure”.

I’m here to say, that is bogus! Pursuing a literature major in university is just as important as a business degree, in fact any other degree.

Where does this misconception come from anyways? I think it arises from the exaggerated idea of the starving artist.

During ancient times, in Greece and Rome, an arts education was considered essential for anyone in public life. In my opinion it still is!

Yet some people have preconceived that you have to get a degree in ‘something safe’, such as business degree. As if that degree will automatically land you the keys to an executive bathroom. However, in most cases this is not true. Like all things in life those keys to an executive bathroom need to be earned with diligent hard work.

Attaining a literature degree can be just as challenging and hard as any other degree. Try writing a thesis in 2 hours and defending it with textual evidence!

 Students who are educated in literature encompass a wide range of subjects which includes English, philosophy, history, psychology, languages and social science etc. Also studying literature in university include skills such as:

  • analytical and problem-solving skills
  • research skills
  • oral and written communication skills
  • ethical decision-making skills
  • foreign languages and cross-cultural skills

Rather than teaching a specific set of skills, literature programs develop students to have a broader perspective. By having a broader perspective, literature graduates have enhanced skills in critical thinking and communication. These traits very important for future employment, or even becoming your own boss! Many literature degree holders are self-employed and work as freelancers.

The advantage of a literature degree is that it not only prepares you in landing a career but also if you wish to go into a specialized Graduate programs (master and PHD). The study of literature enables you to have a bottomless range of choices for work and future education pursuits.

The skills honed within literature majors are exactly what employers look for! Here is an article that highlights what skill set employers look for, including critical thinking and communication.  

I believe, higher education is an investment in personal growth not a fundamental to a million-dollar paycheque. The misconception that studying literature will make you poor is sadly taken out of proportion. The pressure lands many young adults to choose a degree based on income rather than on cultivating knowledge.

By the way, there is nothing wrong or bad in pursuing a business degree. In fact, that was my first choice when applying to college. However, if you are feeling like it’s for the sake of others just so you’re not bombarded with questions like “oh what are you going to do with that?” Then, is that personally worth it?

So, don’t be afraid to dabble in the arts!

Belle Villar is a fourth year student studying World Literature and Publishing. She is passionate about travelling, and daydreams of seeing exotic places around the world. In her spare time, she loves visiting bookstores and collecting books for her ever growing home library.
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