In April, Newsweek published a feature declaring the “13 Most Useless Majors.” As usual, the Internet angrily retaliated, with each Anthropology and Music major in the blogosphere defending their blessed track-of-study.
I’m a college senior studying English, i.e. Useless Major number seven. And I’m currently applying for different J-Schools in hopes of attaining my master’s in Journalism, number eight on the list. What’s more, university ain’t cheap. Without my scholarship I certainly would not have been able to both succeed this far in my education and, you know, eat. Even with my scholarship, though, my family and I both make sacrifices so that I can study this Useless Major. The fact that I spent a year as a Visiting Student at the University of Cambridge only forced us to tighten our resources even more.
To be clear, I’m not mentioning my finances to shame anybody in greater or lesser privilege than me, but because when it comes to these rankings, money matters. The criteria presented in the Newsweek article considers unemployment rates, average earnings, and projected growth. And as much as young idealists argue that a liberal arts education means, like, so much more than money, this Marxist*-Feminist-New-Historicist woman has to stay grounded in reality. How the hell am I going to pay off my student loans? Will this mean that I can’t move back to the UK or Europe as I hope to in the next five years? What does it mean for the education my two little sisters?
Another question: do I regret investing in a liberal arts education? No. Well, not yet.
Apparently job opportunities in the field of journalism are dwindling, particularly with the downfall of print. I still am convinced that the people will always need Truth delivered to them, particularly with the chaotic and contradictory messages bombarding them at the speed of a text being sent to Twitter. My English major has also taught me about the impossibility of finding Objective Truth; from the stories I choose to write, to the people I choose to interview and the quotes I choose to include in my articles, I will always be coloring the news, whether I like it or not.
But I also believe that if I deliver that-which-can-be-observed, and moreover, that-which-must-be-investigated, I can open a discourse on matters which are marginalized by the media’s focus on that-which-is-the-dominant-ideology. The secret to delivering news worth reading is to find the gaps and inconsistencies made in the “givens,” the assumptions of the media. My English major taught me these ideas, by the way. My understanding of critical thinking (which I was first taught in the States) was raised to an entirely different level in Cambridge, where I learned to understand and gain confidence in my academic work. So, my education must be worth something. Plus, despite Newsweek’s consensus, I’m trying to be smart with my choices in education. I have a background in Polish, and a French minor is on the horizon. To make it in this world, isolationism simply isn’t going to work.
Jack Donaghy said, “We are an immigrant nation. The first generation works their fingers to the bone making things, the next generation goes to college and innovates new ideas, the third generation… snowboards and takes improv classes.” My parents are immigrants, arriving in America in the late 80s. They both come from peasant Eastern-European families. And you know what? I am in college, and my ideas are innovative and dynamic. I’m not going to defend every liberal arts major— but thus far, I’m thankful for my own.
*Marxist, meaning I believe that material reality affects consciousness, and true free will is ultimately constricted by our worldly situations. I’m not a Communist or a Guevara-follower, though I definitely wouldn’t apologize if I was.
Real talk. New blog post up at InTransit-I know!