I had never doubted my degree choice until I interacted with my fellow university students.
I cannot express the amount of times I’ve gotten bashed for my degree, from comments like “So do you wanna be a teacher then?” to “Oh…that’s…interesting?”
As a History major, I’m well aware of the misconceptions that surround Arts students, as well as other faculties that have gained a bad reputation at university. What are these reputations even based on? Is it because there’s this idea that it's harder for Arts and Fine Arts students to get a job after school? Or is it simply because people deem us less smart, or less capable?
“Science is harder and more important than Arts”
Well, I wanted to find out if this was true. In an Instagram poll we conducted that asked students about whether they believe a hierarchy of degrees exists at university, 90% of students out of a 319 pool said yes. We then asked students to tell us what their degree is and some misconceptions fellow university students have about it. These are some of the things they said:
“People say Management is easy. But try doing group projects and essays all year.”
Another student said:
“As a History major, I’ve had a lot of people from outside the discipline ask me if I’ll be able to get any kind of job with it. I think a lot of people think that Arts and Fine Arts are less important/useful than other degrees.”
After reading various comments, I noticed that every degree has misconceptions. I believe we simply judge before we even investigate what the degree is about. One student, for example, said:
“A lot of Engineering students don’t know what Cultural Studies entails, so it's considered useless. Anything that is not immediately clear is considered useless.”
Why can’t we just leave everyone’s choices alone? If you’re judging or trashing a degree, let's see how well you do in one of those classes.
It's not about “not being able to do math” or “not being able to write an essay,” it is simply about every person doing what they want and what they are passionate about.
However, it still seems people continue to have really strong opinions about certain degrees. For example, when we asked students if they thought there were any “useless” degrees offered at UBC, one student noted:
“Philosophy is useless as a degree. I’ve met people with Philosophy degrees. They suck.”
Believe me when I say, I’ve had to endure many philosophy courses at university. And, if there is something I’ve learned, it is that without this discipline we wouldn’t have any of the established institutions or ways of thinking that every degree uses.
Not a single degree is useless. Every degree has its difficulties and hardships. And, every single one offers something to this world. Another student said:
“I don’t think any degree is useless. I think the university can do more to make students more accepting of other degrees.”
As much as I agree, how can the university make students more accepting of other degrees when there are clearly many faculties that are underfunded? How can the university make sure every degree is perceived as equally important if even scholarships and awards are unequally distributed amongst many faculties?
Well, this “degree hierarchy” is even refuted by university events. The Life Raft Debate, happening on January 25th, is an annual event organized by the UBCO Society of Scholars, in which we are invited to imagine that a catastrophic event has wiped out most of humanity and the remaining survivors must sail off and rebuild society. Professors from different faculties will debate why their discipline is the most important area of study that this new civilization will need to survive. Students (the audience) will decide who gets to go.
What an exciting time this will be! Who will win? Will it be English, Engineering, Management? Well, while professors are engaging in this event and debating about whose discipline is literally “better,” how can students and even the university believe that every degree is of equal value? I guess we’ll find out soon!