Respect VAPA students, degrees other than your own

September 12, 2o16

Hannah Harvey

[email protected]

     When I was in the third grade, I filled my notebooks with cheesy song lyrics, album titles and pretended that I was on the front cover of my favorite music magazines.

     But as I grew older, I shied away from pursuing this as a career.

     It’s not that I didn’t love learning sheet music on my guitar for hours; it’s that I stopped taking the idea of being in a punk rock band seriously as a career. When I thought about what to major in college, it was science that appealed to me.

     As a STEM major, I found it hard to look at the arts and find hope in a career. I changed my major three times from biomedical science, to biochemistry and finally to biology, but I found myself continually drawn to English.

     I made a choice and immediately felt better and committed to writing and rhetoric.

     Throughout college, I’ve noticed a stigma with art majors that increasingly feels like getting a Bachelor of Arts is a set up for failure.

     I bought the stigma that only those who pursue scientific, mathematic, or technological careers could be successful. The problem with this is that it’s easy to jump to a conclusion that you can’t gain anything valuable from the arts.

     I am finding that this is not the case.

     As a STEM major, I brushed off these classes, because I felt that degree in the sciences would get me further in life.

     But the communication skills I learned in English and art have done me the most favors in job interviews, not my knowledge of what a phospholipid-bilayer is.

     Communication classes teach us how to communicate with each other professionally and ethically. English classes teach us how to critically process what we read. Art classes teach us that there is more than one way to paint a picture, both literally and figuratively.

     At first, the idea of a well-payed job as a doctor and being financially sound made me feel safe.

     According to a 2014 study published by Pew Research Center, 32.1 percent of millennials (aged 18-24 years old) live at home, either with their parents or a significant other.

     Economic factors like the ever daunting student debt, lagging wage growth and a rising cost of mortgages make this the first time in American history this age bracket will most likely move back in with their folks.

     These statistics, while small, are scary because there is always a chance that we will be a part of this number.

     But we don’t avoid becoming a statistic by stigmatizing other degrees. A communication degree is not worthless, and neither is biology, engineering, English or theater.

     The National Association of Colleges and Employers reported that 55 percent of LAS graduates are employed at least six months after they graduate.

     Employment rates are low for art majors (22 percent) immediately after graduation according to NACE, but this doesn’t mean that we should lose hope.

     It’s not fair for me to look at the arts classes I felt “obligated” to take and disregard them because they aren’t as intensive as STEM classes.

     At some point we need to stop being critical of a degree program just because its employment rate may not be as high as ours. No, English is not a math intensive degree. But biochemistry is not always an art intensive degree either.

     We need to learn to come together and compile our skill sets so that we can create better products and build a better society.

     STEM majors, don’t disregard the benefits that you can get from an arts class. It’s important to be well-rounded, in fact, it’s invaluable as we search for jobs in a difficult economy.