It's Time We Talk About Major Shaming

I would be willing to bet that you have experienced “major shaming” before and just didn’t know what to call it. Have you ever heard someone say, “Oh, you’re a communications major? That must mean you have easy classes,” or what about, “are you a nursing major because you just didn’t want to do med school?” We’ve all been there, whether you were the one saying it or the one hearing it. Major shaming is a real thing, and it needs to stop.

College is a time where we finally get to start honing in on the studies we want to make a career out of. How many times have you heard someone say “thank goodness I never have to take a math class ever again,” or “I am so glad i will never have to write another rhetorical analysis.” It is so exciting to think that our coursework now will be directly applicable to the kind of jobs we want to pursue in the future, but what happens when someone makes us feel inferior for choosing to study the major we were once so excited about? It is hurtful and it is degrading. I sat down with second-year student Anna Thomas to gain more insight on the topic.

Woman In Black Long Sleeve Dress Standing On Brown ConcreteTo make a major shaming comment is to discredit the amount of hard work someone puts into their studies. In Thomas's words, "it is when certain majors are valued more than other majors, making the work of some students seem more meanigful than others." It is telling someone they should feel less than, ashamed, or embarrassed of the path they have chosen to pursue. It may be cliché, but you never truly know what someone is going through until you walk a mile in their shoes. Thomas details a personal experience she had with major shaming:

"When I moved onto an engineering floor my second semester of freshamn year, I told everyone I was a business major, and they all kind of had this instant reaction of 'oh she is just a business mjor.' No one was like 'oh hey maybe we have a gen ed together' or 'maybe something I learned in my statistics course could help you out in yours.' I felt looked down upon and degraded. It was almost like my presence at the university wasn't as important as theirs."- Thomas

Unfortunately, Thomas is just one of many students who have felt this way before.

Before you tell an elementary education major that they “must just color all day,” or that “they are basically just a glamorous babysitter,” you need to think about the unique challenges they face. Think about the mental toll they take on dealing with children from dysfunctional households or the late hours they stay up putting together lesson plans for their students. 

Before asking a communications major “what kind of job is that going to get you?” or, “so you are just majoring in talking to people?” think about what it must be like to be constantly pushed up against strict deadlines. Think about the interpersonal skills they have built up interviewing and writing about the stories of those in our community. 

Those are just two common examples, but the backhanded comments are endless and not limited to any field of study. "I think it is important to know that while what we all choose to study may be different, no one's studies are any less important. Everyone has their own strengths and puts a lot of time and effort into their work, despite what the subject matter is," concluded Thomas.

The reality is we are all here because we are smart and capable. Older and younger generations alike are looking at us to be the face of an even brighter future. It doesn’t matter what you are majoring in, because at the end of the day, we all have a role to play in this. As long as you are studying something that you are passionate about and that makes you happy, that is all that should matter.