When I was a freshman, I had a professor announce to the class that in this modern economy, majoring in anything that doesn’t fall under the “STEM” category was a waste of our time.
STEM, for those of you who don’t know, stands for ‘Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics’. It is an acronym used to describe the classes on our campus you’ll often find in Darwin and Salazar, such as Biology or Engineering. These departments offer challenging and rigorous programs. The students who graduate with degrees from these departments go on to do amazing things in their fields, and our society would be desperately incomplete without them. However I, like many of my peers, do not excel in these departments. I am mediocre (probably below average to be honest) in these skill sets. I put off my section B requirements until the last semester I reasonably could, and I am grossly dependent on my calculator.
Now I’m sure they didn’t mean to flat out tell me I was wasting thousands of dollars on my humanities degree, but rather they were trying to give a realist perspective on the way the workforce might view it. Either way, I walked out feeling discouraged and defensive. This would not be the last time I heard candor such as this used in my academic world, and honestly, I’m irritated.
I couldn’t give you an accurate reason for why I don’t think the same way other students do (which might be accredited to the fact that I’m horrendous at science), but I can tell you one thing: my knowledge is valuable. I don’t have the mind for a STEM major, but I can tell you what I do have the mind for. I excel at reading and writing, and I have pretty solid communication skills. I like to believe I’m effective in my own department, Political Science. I am creative, intuitive, and a critical thinker. Students who also excel in these fields surround me.
So this one is for my friends who are pursuing their passions, despite being told they’re wasting their time. Did you know that Music Majors have almost twice as many required units as the rest of us? Art and Theater Majors have very intense projects and blocks, and study just as much theory as I do. Political Science majors don’t study the Donald all day, but instead study the distribution of resources to about 7 billion people. People who study the arts are so talented, creative, and passionate. This stuff is complicated and very challenging. It’s also worth something.
But I’m tired of having to defend that, and I’m sick of conversations with students that make me feel like I’m not as valuable as they are. This isn’t to say that people who major in something having to do with STEM are less valuable than my humanities degree, because that would be a complete contradiction to what I’m trying to accomplish. I know there are negative stereotypes that STEM students (especially women) probably hear. Please refer to the second paragraph if you walk away from this article thinking I have anything negative to say about these departments. But as a rule of thumb, if you aren’t paying for my schooling, then you don’t get to have an opinion on my major. It’s my degree, and I’ll pursue my own passion, and contribute to the world in a way that fits my particular skill sets.
The gist of this entire rant is this: stop dragging other people’s majors through the mud and spend that extra energy doing awe-inspiring things in your own department. We’re all here for an education, we all work hard, and we should be encouraging one another instead of bringing each other down.