The plight of a liberal arts student in a tech-crazy world is getting worse and worse. While there is plenty of research that shows liberal arts students possess incredible creativity, analytical thinking, and communications skills, it doesn’t stop the average person from associating any social sciences major with a burger and fries. If you think it’s bad for the average liberal arts student, imagine how bad it is when you go to a school like Georgia Tech, known specifically for churning out some of the smartest engineers in the country. It’s a stewing pot for academic stigma.
1. Adverse reactions when people hear your major.
When I decided to come to Georgia Tech, I got a lot of weird looks when I told people I was interested in business and economics. Some consider business the easy way out, and economics leads people to ask me why I’m even here. So on many occasions, I get treated as having the short end of two already short sticks. People forget how important it is to pursue something you’re interested in. Not everyone is destined to be an engineer, spend their life in a lab, or make revolutionary computer algorithms. If everyone chose these routes, we would fail as a society. We wouldn’t have policy makers, social workers, or people who genuinely want to know about what makes other people tick.
2. Not feeling sufficient amidst STEM majors.
We often talk about racial, sexual, and religious diversity, and yet we are judgmental of academic diversity. The idea that a certain route leading to a STEM career is the only respectable option has got to stop. It undermines the huge potential, interest, and talent that students of other disciplines can bring to the table.
3. Defending your major.
Students should be encouraged to pursue whatever they think they can make a difference in. I’m not going to naively claim that all degrees are created equal; if they were, there would never be salary disparity. But that doesn’t change the fact that we truly need people in a variety of disciplines. Currently, 81.4% of Georgia Tech undergrads are in engineering, computer science, or the sciences, leaving a very small number of students who decided to take the road less traveled.
4. Feeling like you have to prove your talent.
There are a lot of benefits to being a liberal arts student in a highly technical environment. It shapes our curriculum and way of thinking to match the technology-heavy nature of the industries and world we are entering. So it should be a win-win situation; that is, once we acknowledge that we all have talents. Being both a liberal arts and a business major has made me aware of how and why people make decisions, and how to work with others to make sure that those decisions are optimal. It involves working with people of all sorts of disciplines and diagnosing the problems common across different fields.
5. Sticking it out.
The degree no longer determines the disparity of salary as much as the talent that comes out of it. Quite often, big name employers seek out these lesser-known majors specifically for the talents they provide. At Georgia Tech, what I inevitably see is many engineers and science majors going right into a business field and role, and eventually, graduates from all sorts of majors are working only a few desks from each other. What makes this both ironic and great is that each of these people brings a different expertise and skill set, but they end up in similar types of work.
So no, I’m not going to apologize or be embarrassed by my major just because other students claim to have more work than I do. At the end of the day, we all got into Georgia Tech because we had the same qualifications, and we should be united as a college, not divided by our majors.
Featured image source: flickr.com
Anu is a senior at Georgia Tech, studying Economics and Business. Anu loves music, writing, travelling, laughing, learning languages, and being outdoors. At any given time, you can find her watching The Office or laughing at her own jokes. She is super stoked about sharing her thoughts with other college students on Society19!