Originally Posted: Jun 26, 2019
Last Updated: Dec 8, 2020
Declaring a major sometimes feels like dedicating the rest of your life to one subject. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of stigma 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 daring enough 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.
1. You want to be fulfilled
Think back to the time before you grew up. Was drawing or creating something artistic your escape? Did you enjoy learning about other cultures and people? Were you interested in designing and/or media applications? These are some of the topics that a potential arts and humanities major could dive deeper into their academic career. When you look at the different arts majors, ask yourself, “Does it fit me and my personality?” Think about any arts- and humanities-based classes you've taken and if you were more engaged in them. If you were far more interested in them than your other classes, it might be a positive indicator for pursuing an arts degree. That interest most likely boosted your energy, improved your grades, and increased your overall happiness levels.
Now, there is a difference between wanting to be fulfilled versus keeping something as a hobby. Being in the arts, your hobby becomes your work, which requires a different type of involvement than having a side passion. Think about how much energy and time you'd like to invest in combining both and what trade-offs you'll encounter down the road.
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 an overlapping area of study since you can easily 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 another career or job along the way. For instance, you could be a 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 all those opportunities you’ll come by.
Statistically, yes, people with an Art History or Music 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. For instance, 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: Liberal Arts Change Lives
Don’t shy away from doing what you know is right for you and what brings you joy. Feeling good enough, making enough money, or having enough passion are all dependent on how you view success. Choosing a major, regardless of it being an arts and humanities one, means pursuing what you feel will make a difference in your own life. It's your own individual choice to make, so trust that your intuition will guide you in the most meaningful direction.
There are tons of scholarships available for arts and humanities students—start searching for them on CollegeXpress.