I’m an English major and I’m proud

Lauren Donecker

No, I do not want to be a teacher. No, it is not a blow off. And no, I will not write your paper for you. 

Why does one major receive higher praise over another major? Why does one assume a STEM major is automatically successful, but an arts and humanities major is advised to not get their hopes up on being successful? These seem like stereotypes, but I have endured this first hand. 

Before pursuing English, I was studying chemistry. Every time I told someone what my goals were, they were always amazed and complimented my dedication. What most people didn’t know was that I was miserable. I dreaded going to class every day, and I had no idea how I was ever going to make it. After switching to English, I instantly felt the change. My whole perspective transformed — I was excited for my classes, and the rest of my academic path. I felt confident with my choice, and while I still had to put in a lot of long nights, I started excelling in my classes and making the grade that equated to my effort. I wanted to tell everyone about my improved plan and how everything seemed to be falling into place.

Unfortunately, sharing my optimism with others did not bring me as much support as I expected. It’s not often that people were so blunt about their disapproval of my change in direction but it was obvious they expected less from me now. I was still the same person, and I still possessed the same level of intelligence and motivation. If anything, I was better off now that I had renewed my enthusiasm, but they could not see my future as clearly as I could. This was tremendously discouraging for me. Even though I was still happy with my decision and knew I did not make a mistake, it made me doubt myself for just an instant which was unfair. 

 I know that many arts and humanities majors feel the same way. According to a recent study by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the demand for STEM based majors in today’s world has caused the number of bachelor’s degrees in the humanities to drop over 10 percent since 2015. While this seems like a negative for those who chose to study humanities, it actually makes a humanities major more valuable since it is becoming less common. Not to mention, when someone actually enjoys what they are studying, they are more likely to succeed because of their increased interest and devotion to spending time and energy on it. 

Gerald Greenberg, senior associate dean of academic affairs, humanities and curriculum, instruction and programs in the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University, advocates for all majors. He emphasizes how every major is different yet important in their own way. 

“Within the sciences, one can learn about what happens when tiny particles collide, which can open the window into the universe. Within the social sciences, one can learn about how resources are used by people and companies, and can lead to an understanding of how the economy may develop. Within the humanities, one can learn another language, which can open the window into a new culture a new worldview,” Greenberg said.

This statement shows that each discipline has immense strength and is worthy of study — they just reveal their power in different ways.

No one knows what is best for you better than yourself. It is okay to make some wrong turns along the way or to ask for directions, but ultimately, you call the shots and should be content when you reach your final destination. You should feel proud for furthering your education, regardless of the area of study that makes you happy. Anyone who challenges you along the way is just another obstacle that needs to be defeated and left behind. Enjoy your journey and best of luck.