Feature image from blacksheepumich.com
When I applied to college, I had wanted to be an English major. I’m not an English major any more because I’ve discovered another major that’s a better fit for me and what I wanted to do, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t suffer my fair share of judgment from my family, teachers, and peers during applications season.
Here are a few highlights.
Well, yeah. Don’t disagree with you there, Dad. But I’m not horrible at math, I just don’t like it. Yes, it comes easily to you and you work with computers and before that you were a biologist — but I’m not you. I know you love STEM and you want the best for me, but I’m not you.
I know that you’re the one paying for my education, and please, please, please believe me when I say I want to make you proud. I really do. But is okay if I do it in words and not in numbers? Numbers can’t make people laugh or cry or love or hate so I’d much rather have my words, even if they don’t pay as well.
“Are you going to be an author?” — My Sister
Not all English majors aspire to be authors, but a lot of them do. It’s hard to say for sure whether I’d be one, but I’d sure love to get there someday.
“What a waste of talent.” — My Science Teacher
In high school I was good at science, and I guess I liked science well enough because I wasn’t bad at it. But it’s not what I wanted to do; experiments were fun enough, I guess, but at my core I wanted to do something more creative. This was met with some disdain from my teacher, who thought I might be a nice addition to a STEM field.
I won’t lie: it hurt a little to hear this, especially from someone who believed in me so much. We all have different priorities when it comes to interests, but I honestly don’t think any interest that can help another person is a waste. Now that I’m in college and I’ve had to read some scientific papers, I truly believe that some scientists could have done well to have an English-y person in their midst.
“What are you going to do with that?” — A Friend
I’m going to be a barista.
But seriously — I can do a lot of things with an English major. I could apply to law school if I really wanted to. I could get into advertising and marketing. I could become a journalist. I could go into business operations and internal communications; I could become an analyst. I could be a writer, an editor, an academic, a critic. I could teach. I could go into HR. That’s actually more options than a STEM degree, usually. What else are you going to do with a computer science degree but code?
It matters less the degree you have than the amount of effort you put into your work and building your resume. Connections also help.
“But it’s such a useless major!” — Assorted Parents Who Are Not Mine
I get it. Everyone else’s kid is doing something useful. Everyone else is either a premed or an engineer or an econ major or something practical that can get a job out of college. I’m not the same.
But that’s okay. I’m not competing with your children, and they’re all very brilliant people who are responsible for their own lives. And don’t worry; eventually we’ll all grow up, graduate college, go our own ways, and you won’t have to worry so much about me anymore.
“Hey, proofread my personal statement.” — Various Classmates
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