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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Mind your major

    “”What in God’s name can you do with a philosophy degree?!”” a pre-physiology student asked my friend last week.

    Since the first day of our freshman year, we have been defending our majors to others, and at this point, most are accustomed to the standard reactions of other students once they find out what we are studying. As a sophomore majoring in creative writing and minoring in French, I have gotten a lot of condescending attention from students with majors “”that you can actually do something with,”” stating I will not have any luck with employers once I leave the UA, nor for the rest of my life.

    Prestigious universities across the nation put little emphasis in choosing a major since a degree from a prestigious university says a lot about the student alone. Harvard, for example, offers only 80 undergraduate majors, compared with more than 150 at the UA. In the Ivy League, choosing to study English or comparative literature is no big deal, because the degree itself is so well respected, but at a big public university like the UA, one’s choice of major carries more weight – and there’s often a lot of pressure to choose the “”right”” one.

    It’s a well-worn college cliché ð- hard sciences are the best, humanities scholars will all one day live in cardboard boxes and the communication major is an academic path for sorority girls.

    Yet, majoring in something you enjoy does not exclude you from exceptional professions. Any student can easily apply for medical school, or go into business, marketing or entrepreneurship if they acquire proper leadership skills and are willing to work hard to get there. In fact, we often put too much emphasis on majors at the expense of education: Competitive and respected majors do not guarantee a position in their field of study upon graduation. According to Fortune magazine, in 2002, 30 percent of the top CEOs in the Fortune 500 had not majored in business.

    Pre-med and pre-business students may wear their fatigue and homework load like a badge of honor, but since other students with less stressful majors don’t have to waste time applying for their majors, they find internships, get involved with the university and find jobs in their field of study concurrent with completing their degrees. These students can decide if their paths of study will evolve into their careers because they get a glimpse of what the job will be like.

    Media arts junior J. Tyler Robison recognizes that a competitive major has nothing to do with a student’s overall success. Directing and producing for UATV-3, working as a multimedia consultant for the Office of Student Computing Resources, writing for Comedy Corner and having founded the University Filmmakers Organization, J. Tyler is always busy outside of the classroom and has had “”many sleepless nights.””

    “”I went into the media arts major with very little knowledge of filmmaking, so it is nice to actually be learning something in the classroom. The major usually leans more toward theory, so applying what I learn through my extra-curriculars is where I learn things since theory means nothing without application.”” That philosophy is easily applicable to any student.

    He could just graduate with a degree in media arts, but without outside activities, he would probably have a harder time finding a job. His leadership in creating the University Filmmakers Organization is more likely to catch an employer’s eye than if he had a business degree because it proves he can handle his profession under pressure.

    In a recent survey of 3,000 arts and sciences alumni of Chapman University, 70 percent of the respondents indicated that there is little connection between their undergraduate major and current career. And according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average 34-year-old will have worked for nine companies throughout the course of his or her career. One major can hardly be representative of nine different jobs, so students will inevitably expand their career options beyond their majors.

    The college major is an artificial division of the real goal of a university: education. Putting too much emphasis on picking the best major from a wide and varied field of possibilities is shortsighted. So mind your own major – and simply choose something you enjoy.

    Laura Donovan is a creative writing sophomore. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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