Declaring a major sometimes feels like dedicating the rest of your life to one subject. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of stigmatism against people interested in liberal arts–based majors, including the repeatedly heard phrase, “What are you gonna do with that?”
We often fail to credit the arts for their unique and impactful contributions to everyday life, shunning students for pursuing something involving communication, writing, or artistry. Society would be without culture and aspirations if the arts and humanities didn’t exist, and we underestimate the great power coming from people who are so daring to pursue their dreams.
So, before you give up on choosing a major in the arts, consider these three reasons why you should go for it.
Related: Liberal Arts Change Lives
1. You want to be happy
As a child, drawing in sketchbooks, writing in journals, and critiquing films, it was always apparent to me that I would do something related to creative expression. Switching from a STEM major to an Art History major in college, I felt an instant spark of familiarity and comfort, realizing how much art history connected to my everyday life. I felt excited to be in a major that constantly moves with the issues and politics of modern day while also being able to support local artists and continue the legacies of past artists.
Being an arts major is one of those things that’s been in the back of my mind, but I never took the time to develop or pay attention to it. Once I decided to isolate and listen to what really felt right, that’s when I knew I made the right choice.
When you look at different arts majors, ask yourself, “Does it fit me? Does it fit my personality?” Doing what you love will fulfill you more. Think about any class you’ve ever taken, and you were probably more engaged if it was something you enjoyed. That interest most likely boosted your energy, improved your grades, and brought up your overall happiness levels. Passion pervades all else if you’re willing to persevere and have confidence in who you are.
2. You want flexibility in your career
We’re often told to aspire to the “American Dream” of pursuing something we truly enjoy in order to be successful. However, “success” is viewed narrowly. People worry that if they pursue an arts degree, they won’t reach that pressured success.
However, the arts are a flexible area of study, since you can directly apply what you learned to other areas of interest. Even when people declare their major and do something directly related to it, it’s inevitable that they pursued (or were told to pursue) another career or job along the way.
For instance, you could be French major translating for exchange students, then find yourself as an ambassador for your country at international conferences. Or you could be an English major editing for publishing houses, then find yourself as a media consultant for large companies. Life is spontaneous, but an arts and humanities degree will prepare you for those all opportunities you’ll come by.
Statistically, yes, people with an Art History or Philosophy degree make less money than STEM majors. However, they’re still able to live comfortably with what they have. We could all use more money, but is our happiness worth the stress of doing something we don’t love?
3. You want to contribute to society
Numerous artists have used their abilities to express trauma, happiness, and other emotions through their creations. When people read poetry, it may strongly resonate with them, spurring greater discussion of difficult topics.
Contributing your creativity and intelligent design to current events enlightens others to become inspired and seek their own forms of expression. The arts and humanities are similar to activism in that you are voicing your opinion, learning to express your ideas, and accepting criticism for them. You never know if you’ll be painting your next collection for charity or leading a protest group for women’s rights.
Related: The Crux of College Creativity
Don’t shy away from doing what you know is right for you and what brings you joy. It took me a long time to come to terms with my arts and humanities major, thinking I was never going to be good enough, make enough money, or have enough drive to get me to where I want to be. But doing what you love truly makes a difference, to which I can vouch for from personal experience.
There are tons of scholarships available for arts and humanities students—start searching for them on CollegeXpress.