Students must end judgement of other majors

Jesse Swezda, Opinion Writer

Being asked what is your major is quite common on college campuses and is often used as an ice-breaker in conversations between students. However, if you’re like me, this question fills you with dread every time you hear it. How could such an innocent question inspire such fear? The answer is simple.

It’s a phenomenon I like to call “major bashing,” where certain majors, particularly those within the humanities and social sciences, are singled out for mockery and criticism. I believe major bashing poisons the culture of college campuses all around the country, including our own, and we all need to make an active effort to stop it.

Most people who have been the victim of major bashing can describe the experience pretty well. You’re chatting it up with a fellow student and suddenly the topic turns to majors. So you tell them your major and hope they will have the common decency not to make fun of you. But, surely enough, that cheeky smile appears on their face, and you find yourself enduring yet another barrage of jokes about moving back in with your parents after graduation.

It’s a depressingly common experience for a lot of college students, one that does not show any signs of stopping on its own. Part of the reason why major bashing is so common has to do with beliefs students have about certain majors, one of the most prevalent being the belief that those majors result in unemployment after graduation.

But students aren’t just criticized for having majors that allegedly won’t lead to a job. Many students are targeted because their major is perceived as leading to a low-paying job.

UW Oshkosh senior and education major Morgan Hach said education majors are frequently criticized for choosing a major with low-income prospects.

“Everyone’s like, ‘Oh, there’s no money in teaching. You’re not gonna make any kind of money. You’re gonna be broke for the rest of your life,’” Hach said.

Despite the criticism she commonly faces for her major, Hach remains determined in her goal to become a teacher one day.

“I don’t care, I guess,” Hach said. “It’s more that I want to be a teacher rather than getting the money.”

The fact that an education degree, one of the more practical degrees offered by universities, is frequently targeted by major bashers just shows how indiscriminate these criticisms can be. But it also sheds light on the faulty value system that drives so much of this kind of bullying.

According to UWO senior Jasmine Knobloch, major bashing might be caused by a capitalist culture that values monetary gain over education for its own sake.

“Our capitalist culture is a huge part of it,” Knobloch said. “I mean, everybody is pursuing [higher] education to get a job. So when you don’t have education that is specifically marketable to some sort of career, and you don’t have a specific path that you’re taking, it doesn’t seem like you’re fitting into that capitalist enterprise America.”

Now, some of you will say I’m just a salty English major trying to justify my humanities degree, but there is actually a very simple reason why major bashing is so unwarranted. It lies in the purpose of a college education itself.

The purpose of a college education is not primarily to prepare you for a job after graduation. Rather, it is for you to learn, to expand your horizons and to be exposed to new ideas and perspectives that challenge your beliefs and help you grow as a person.

The reason why the major bashers are wrong is because they misunderstand on a fundamental level what an education is all about in the first place. We all want to be economically successful after graduation, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, we must remember that landing a job right after graduation or having a six-figure salary is not ultimately why we are here.

A university, in addition to being a place of learning, should be a place of mutual support and encouragement between students, regardless of our differing goals and fields of study. It doesn’t matter what you’re majoring in. Art, history, engineering, anthropology, computer science, you name it. Ultimately, we are all in the same boat: hopeful young adults working toward that ever elusive cap and gown.