“Here’s to the ones who dream, foolish as they may seem”
“What are you going to do with a degree in (insert name of arts/humanities program here)?”
I keep hearing this everywhere, and to an extent, I get it. In a myopic way of viewing things, it makes sense—getting into an engineering, finance or science program will lead to a more financially secure future. That said, since when did we hold the safer path in such high esteem? Why would you look down upon a person who chooses a path they’re passionate about?
I don’t understand it. I personally admire people who choose to study what interests them, not what will guarantee them a stable salary. People who are ready to take the risk. I admire the artists, the musicians, the writers, the painters, the dancers—our society would be nothing without them. Same goes for the sociologists, linguists and anthropologists who try to make sense of the messy world we live in.
Don’t get me wrong, I have just as much respect for doctors and engineers. But I believe they get enough recognition. I believe everyone should pursue what they’re good at—or at least try to do what they do best. We need to stop looking down on people who choose paths that don’t fit our lifestyle standards. We need to stop ranking career and life choices.
In my opinion, employability shouldn’t be the sole consideration when choosing a university program. University should be about more than getting a piece of paper that will allow you to work. You may say I’m biased and anti-sciences, and you’d probably be right to a certain extent. I used to be in a science program. I went into health science in CEGEP just because I could. I didn’t like it, but I didn’t hate it. It was an interesting experience. But by the end of it, I knew it really wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Like the first Matrix movie, my science curriculum did not need a sequel.
I vividly remember when I started telling people I did not want to continue in the sciences, even though my grades were good enough for university programs. They really thought I was making a grave mistake. I’m not talking about my parents, as they actually didn’t really care whether I changed my major. It was my friends, most of whom were in the same program. To them, it was unfathomable that someone would choose an arts or humanities degree over a science one.
Unfortunately, I’ve heard the comment that no one really “chooses” an arts or humanities program—they only get in because they can’t survive the science path. Luckily, I didn’t really care about their opinion. I chose to go into psychology for a year at UdeM (yes, I’m a double agent). I didn’t like it, so I left. Then I chose to apply to the journalism program here at Concordia. Yes, I chose to enter a dying—or changing, depending on who you ask—industry over JMSB. I have never been happier going to school, and I have never looked back on my hypothetical scientific career.
Of course, not everyone in sciences has this disdain for humanities programs. I really don’t want to generalize this belief in any way. However, I keep reading and hearing these kinds of divisive comments, and it’s just sad. I know some people just joke around about those who pursue more creative paths in order to “trigger” them, but I do think these jokes stem from an obnoxious belief that is much too widespread.
I don’t like the efficiency-centric mindset we see so often in universities. I feel as though the humanities and arts are decaying because too many students choose to pursue corporate career programs in university. I am not convinced we’re headed in the right direction. Don’t let negative comments discourage you. We need people everywhere: in medicine, engineering and economics, but also in humanities and arts. I strongly believe that whatever you want to do, give it a try—you’ll never know if it’s the right path for you otherwise.
Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth