One of the most common questions asked when first meeting a fellow college student is “What major are you?” This is a great conversation starter—either two strangers find something in common or they can explain their majors to each other. Sadly, that is not why most people ask it; instead, it is often used to help form an idea about what that person is like.
The judgement and overall demeaning attitudes toward different majors must come to an end. Students should not stereotype people based on what they study in college.
Presently, each major is accompanied by wide-sweeping stereotypes. Of course, some are true, but many are not based on fact; people often form their impressions based on parental opinions or viewpoints from peers.
History major first-year Natalie Orman finds only negative reactions whenever asked about her major.
“When I tell people I’m a history major, I get one of two responses. Half think I am coasting through college with this major, like it’s really easy—just reading a couple of books and that’s it. The other half think it’s insignificant,” Orman said. “They understand it might be challenging but they don’t really see the importance of it.”
Meanwhile, biology major freshman Samantha Ross said her own major was also stereotyped.
“Every time I tell people, they’re always amazed or immediately say you must be stressed—insinuating that I overwork myself,” Ross said.
Typically, majors in the arts such as music, English or history are seen as easier, but have less to offer, unlike business and the sciences which are generally accepted as more difficult, but with greater benefits.
“[There’s] this perception that people like art majors are going to have a harder time getting jobs, but that’s based on what [parents and teachers] tell me—they say be a bio major or a business major, or else you’ll waste your money and education,” Ross said.
Of course, this isn’t true, but these impressions have come to be widely accepted. A substantial consideration for most college students is not what they want to do or what they are interested in, but what is going to make them highly employable, and that has pushed a great deal of students toward majors in scientific fields or business.
There are fewer jobs on the market for those pursuing humanities-related positions. CNBC found that of the top seven most in-demand jobs, five are in the medical field. The other two are in application software developing and construction. The Job Network had similar results: of the 10 most in-demand jobs, zero were outside health, technology or finance.
Tradeschools.net listed majors that are specifically in-demand at companies; education and humanities were included and were ranked higher than science and health science respectively, but the list was mainly dominated by technology, science and business, with computer science the most called for.
Frankly, the market for the arts and sciences is limited. Of course, there will always be some that make a career of their passion, but because many more jobs are open in economics and the sciences, students are being pushed in that direction.
Due to this imbalance, the idea that the sciences are more valuable than the arts has arisen. It is easier to find employment in scientific areas, so people will think that there is greater value to majors leading toward those jobs, however, there is only so much that can be learned as a science major.
All disciplines, from the sciences to the arts, are important and make vital contributions to society. Therefore, people should be respected no matter what they choose to study in school and the harmful stereotypes and stigma surrounding different majors must cease.