So I tend to only post on Tumblr when I’m annoyed by something, and I keep seeing this ‘13 Most Useless Majors’ list. I am a Television, Radio, Film major (useless degree #3) with a minor in renaissance studies (Useless major #12). It hits a nerve because I’m really sick of hearing all of the “Do you want fries with that” jokes that all of my math/science/finance friends won’t stop making. Guess what, almost every major on that list is a crucial part of the culture we have created, the culture that sets us apart, that makes us human. We make connections, and we tell stories, we think and interpret and share, we do this through every medium, be it books, art, film, performance, music, HISTORY! HISTORY WAS ON THAT LIST. You may deem the degree useless, but guess what. History is important. It shows us how we got to where we are, how to move forward, what worked and what didn’t, how to avoid making the same mistakes. The list goes on. Strangely enough these majors all require an intense amount of learning and work and experience which and I’ve recently realized; makes it all that much more worthwhile. When you spend hours late into the night editing that video for class you feel so much more proud and accomplished when you get an A on it, I’m sure the same idea carries over into real life. You work so hard to get a job in a cutthroat industry that when you manage it you prove to yourself that you can do it. And I think that that’s worth a whole hell of a lot.
Which brings us to the question: what defines ‘useless’? That’s really the part of this that I found offensive. Call my field difficult, or say that it lacks job opportunities, make whatever observations you want. But what gives you the right to call what I do useless? As I mentioned, all of these majors require a lot of work, and the salaries aren’t usually the highest, and the jobs are harder to get. You have to want it, you have to work for it, and you have to commit. So basically we’re not allotting worth to these things, things that give back to our community, or make people happy, or allow us to create and feel accomplished. No, ‘worth,’ ‘usefulness,’ is apparently given only to an education that can be learned and immediately marketed to make the most money for the individual… That seems a little shallow. Don’t ya think? Would you honestly be happy living in a world without art, without music, without books, or the roof over your head? A world where people only studied and practiced skills that would only benefit themselves?
Well, I can’t really answer that for you I guess. But I can promise you that when I spend hours editing footage, or writing papers on Elizabeth I, or analyzing Titian’s paintings, it’s worth something to me. When my friends in architecture are asleep at their desks, sacrificing their health, their leisure time, their sanity, for their passion, it sure as hell isn’t worthless or useless. It’s all that they want and it makes them happy.
And I’m not saying that these majors are better than the ones that aren’t on this list. Everyone is different, we all have different skills, different values, different passions that allow us to excel in DIFFERENT fields and professions. I have a friend who is a finance major. I may wrinkle my nose, but she loves it. It makes her happy, excited, enthusiastic about her future. And that’s all that one could really ask for.
While looking into this, I found a post about how these ‘useless’ fields of study focus more on quality and less on quantity. Sadly our society seems to be rather obsessed with quantity. But I think for myself, and I will certainly be happy with the quality of my education, and the quality of the work I produce, and the quality of my happiness and personal satisfaction. Even without the quantity of money that I could be making in a job that would make me miserable.