OPINION: Stigmatization of LAS majors needs to stop; money is not all that matters

Joy Webb 

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     “What are you going to do with a double major in philosophy and English? Be a teacher?” 

I have been asked this question more times than I can count, and frankly, I’m so sick of it that I have stopped answering.  

     The stigma and stereotype that all LAS majors will only amount to being teachers is problematic for many reasons, and it needs to stop. I do not owe anyone an answer as to why I enjoy learning about and studying these particular subjects.  

     If I was a STEM major, on the pre-law track or a finance major, would they ask the same question? The answer is no, because all of those degree programs tend to lead to careers that profit more than an LAS major.   

     I dropped my pre-law minor after realizing I would be extremely miserable upholding a system and laws that I fundamentally disagree with. Before that, when my answer to the question was that I wanted to become a lawyer, the response was always: “Wow, you will make so much money,” or “You will be so well-off.”  

     It was so disheartening when I was told that and taught me that I needed to do what I loved. Our world desperately needs more people who go to college to learn, who value art and creativity, and not just to obtain a degree only to get a career that makes a lot of money. The value people place on materialistic and financial gain is concerning.  

     It seems as though our society only values degrees or professions that are sophisticated and successful in the sense that they are profitable. Life is not all about capital gain.  

     College can be a space for growth, learning and creative expression, but not if it is a forced endeavor to achieve a degree only to become a slave to capitalism. I have learned more about myself and the world in the past four years than I ever thought possible, and I attribute that entirely to being an LAS major.  

     First of all, what’s wrong with being a teacher? Is it the fact that they get paid terribly despite doing one of the most important jobs in the world? I wish we lived in a society that valued education, learning, art, emotional intelligence and creativity more than money, but unfortunately, that is not the case. Even a society that valued having a job that you are passionate about and enjoy, not just a job that provides a big paycheck, would be better. 

     Secondly, there are plenty of other career paths available to LAS majors after graduation, not just becoming a teacher. This is so narrow-minded, and this assumption is judgmental.  

     I am in college to learn. Not to suffer through a degree program that I have no interest in and waste four years of my life being miserable just so that I can make a ton of money someday.  

     I know so many people who refuse to change their major and instead do assignments just to get them over with, do anything they can to cut corners and get As, dread going to class and complain non-stop about their degree. Why? Capitalism and appearances are more important to people than doing what will make them happy.  

     I chose to major in English and philosophy for many reasons, but none of them are because of money. I tend to not base my entire life off of money, because I have seen first-hand how detrimental that can be to a person’s happiness and well-being. I thought long and hard about what I felt most passionate about, what I was interested in learning about and what I wanted to spend every day of the rest of my life doing.  

     I also chose to major in English, because my passion has always been expressing myself through writing. I love reading books, rhetoric and creativity, and studying English helps me better understand myself and other people.  

     “Philosophy? Is that even an actual major?” I would love to see these people attempt to reach Aristotle’s “Metaphysics,” and then we can talk. I chose to major in philosophy, because I feel that it makes me a better person. Philosophy teaches open-minded, analytic and critical thinking. Philosophy teaches me that I know absolutely nothing, that no one really knows anything. It is dangerous to claim that we do. 

     Philosophy has also taught me that the best thing I can do as a human being is to be as objective, non-judgmental and as accepting as possible: of myself, of others, of ideas, of beliefs.  This field gave me an outlet for conceptualizing my existence from an observational standpoint, rather than a finite and factual judgment that makes socially constructed ideas seem like truths. Objective truth does not even exist in philosophy, and this is why I love it.  

     I have experienced the harm of delimiting religious beliefs, political beliefs, societal beliefs and I want to exist as unattached to all beliefs as humanly possible.  

     It has also taught me that having tons of money will never be the key to happiness. This degree does not set me up for being an accountant or engineer, but I would be miserable for all my life if I was not true to myself.      

     Do not let your parents, teachers or society pressure you into majoring in a degree that you have no interest in but will make you money or make you appear successful. Learn and be college educated so you can make the world a better place by being more content in your own life. College is not just a means to an end to make money.  

     So, please, stop asking people what they are going to do with an LAS degree. It is offensive, and we know exactly what you are implying. We are not wasting our time, and yes, we actually enjoy learning.  

     Also, I highly encourage anyone reading this to change their major to something that they actually enjoy learning about. Our world would look very different without teachers, artists, social workers, anthropologists, musicians, etc. The future and the money can wait.