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Why Your Major Should Never be a Statement of Your Capability

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Her Campus at U Ottawa acknowledges that we are located on the stolen and unsurrendered land of the Algonquin people. 

I was recently at a party and the common question “what do you study?” came up. Of course, I tell this person my major but I can’t help to see the cringed face they make when I do. Random thoughts of “is my major bad?”, “did they just judge what I study?”, and “am I studying something dumb?” pop up, as I think they would for any normal person. However, these thoughts were nothing but anxiety caused by another person’s words. My major is not dumb just because someone doesn’t like it.

There seems to be a “major superiority” culture on campus. Major superiority is totally bogus and the negative judgement of others for their passions and interests for certain careers is just not the vibe.

The first step to debunking this type of behaviour in university life is to understand why it happens. Our society is built on capitalism, the need to grow, and extreme competition. Because of this, there are naturally going to be people who pride themselves on their academic achievements, which may be an attitude that stems from an arrogant mentality. To many people, high academic achievement is associated with dominance, power, affluence, and prestige. People generally want the ability to live comfortable and stable lives that allow them to do whatever they want; they don’t want to be constricted by finances, so they may gravitate towards career paths that will allow them to “live freely” according to this perspective. This usually pertains to the “American Dream” lifestyle of having that nice house and not worrying about the little things such as money or status. When thinking about what fields can eventually lead to occupations that fund this wanted lifestyle, many people often think of STEM fields. Now that we understand where this complex comes from, we can show why other fields are unique and how they impact society in their own ways.

There is a conception that people who are in STEM are going to be doctors, engineers, and scientists—people who are making lasting impacts on society—but who’s to say that the humanities and arts fields don’t have an impact on society? There’s more to liberal studies than theorizing old books; they go into discussion and provide representation for the suppressed. We know there is a chronic underrepresentation of women and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of colour) in STEM fields as compared to white cis-gendered men. The arts and humanities give a platform to express individuality and think outside of the box with abstract ideas. Their classrooms make room for conversation on topics that may seem controversial to many. Though these conversations may not have formulas and numbers, they are expressed in an eloquent sequence of words, which is a useful skill for anyone to know and use.

All students have difficulties within their respective fields, and petty arguments about whose is better are just illogical. Everyone can be successful in their own areas of study because these fields measure success differently and all offer a different type of value. As a society, we should deconstruct the idea of tearing others down to feel better about ourselves. Instead, we should be teaching people to help each other and have an understanding of the potential each field of study holds. No matter what your major is or what field of work you go into, you can make a lasting impact on society, and someone’s snarky remarks at a random party should not make you feel otherwise!

Mariam Shahid

U Ottawa '23

A 4th-year Management student currently pursuing a degree in Commerce. I like to read, write and tamper with anything music!