A few weeks ago, I was browsing through twitter when I came across a tweet complaining about an article titled “Top Ten Worthless College Majors of 2017.” Curious, I clicked on the hyperlink to see what the article deemed “unworthy.” I had been expecting obscure degrees like Bagpiping or Bowling Industry Management. However, anger leaked out of my mind when I realized the so-called “worthless” degrees were perfectly acceptable topic areas. Among the list, majors such as psychology, communications, and theater were diminished to a joke, with the authors claiming we would “thank [them] later.”
Pardon me if I don’t express gratitude to a website that unjustifiably tossed my career plans to the curb.
For certain majors, especially those in the arts, a stigma has emerged that the study won’t bring jobs or a steady income. While everyone should have a dose of realism when thinking about the future, it’s not a money that guarantees success. It’s passion and happiness.
For example, college artists in fields such as theater, dance, visual art, etc. tend to be criticized based on the “Starving Artist” ideology that there are simply too many artists and not enough art career paths. However, this belief often only considers art jobs that make the individual well-known, like a famous singer or a Broadway star. It’s important to note that artist is not synonymous with celebrity. Local theater companies, advertisement designing, and music therapy are just a few examples that offer employment with the number one criteria for most art students: a place to express their art and passion.
Moreover, if we told every potential actress, singer, writer, dancer, etc. that their major or career choice was unrealistic, we would also be without movies, poetry, songs, musicals, and every form of entertainment that inspires and captivates us on a daily basis.
Beyond the art careers, some majors are accused of being worthless because the potential pay grade is low. As someone who is planning on majoring in Journalism — which appears in the aforementioned article — I can testify to this. On multiple occasions, people have responded to my college plans with disdain. I was even told to “learn to live poor.”
It’s ironic that growing up, we’re told that money and materialistic items are not the root of happiness. Yet, strangers seem very concerned with my potentially low income in an area I enjoy immensely.
Psychologists have conducted multiple experiments on the causes of happiness, and a wealthy living is not one of them. A study done by Princeton University demonstrates the difference between our expectations on the contribution of money to happiness and the reality. According to the research, individuals predicted that surveyed women who earned less than $20,000 a year would be in a bad mood 32 percent more than those earning above $100,000. In reality, their poor moods are only increased by 12 percent.
Moreover, the study concluded that those with a higher income generally spend more time in “obligatory activities” which they associated with “higher tension and stress” than leisurely activities.
If money does not correlate to happiness, a job’s lower salary should not be a legitimate reason to criticize certain majors.
What does cause happiness? According to Psychology Today, the number one contributor to happiness is autonomy, which the article defined as “the feeling that your life — its activities and habits — are self-chosen and self-endorsed.”
Needless to say, by self-choosing a career path, even if it might be difficult or without a high salary, college students are actually propelling themselves towards happiness. On the other hand, changing to a major based on others’ so-called “financial advice” is likely to bring only dissatisfaction.
While those majoring in art careers, journalism, communications, and more might come across some predicaments, they will have a decision to make in the end: to let others sway their actions and switch to a well-paying major for which they don’t care or to continue with their passion and possibly learn to use coupons every once in a while.