Boru: Liberal Arts degree, useless or not? Please stop with the ignorant assumptions

I am tired of hearing, “What are you gonna do with that?”, “Are you gonna teach?”


by Luul Boru

I am offended, even though I hate using this word. I am a first-generation university student and I am thankful to my parents for making it possible for me to go to university and be able to graduate, as they did not have the opportunity and the means to do so themselves. If you are from a brown, Black or Asian background, the questions of “What is your degree?” and “What are you going to do with it?” are very familiar, if not completely ingrained in our minds, so much so that we cringe from merely hearing it. It used to be our parents, at least from my experience, who pressured us on what “should have been or should be” our undergraduate major. We had to choose from nursing, medical school, dentistry, engineering, computer science or some other “respectable” major. Now, our colleagues and acquaintances have decided to take on the role of judge, jury and prosecutor when it comes to what path we decide to pursue.

I am a student in the College of Liberal Arts, specifically an English major. Now, you can probably get why I am salty about those questions. I might come off as being unnecessarily defensive against baseless criticism, but I am merely attempting to school those with tunnel vision who seem to be on a quest to chase where the money is, even if they don’t like their jobs. There is nothing wrong with going after what brings you happiness, even if that is a lucrative career, but think again before trying to demean the hard work liberal arts major students put into our studies.

The common denominator I have seen from these commenters is that all they know about liberal arts majors is English, journalism and psychology. They don’t stop to think that the people they are putting down can go on to become authors and philosophers whose books are studied for decades, like the great philosopher John Locke. Journalists who keep us up to date on what is happening around the world with their articulate minds and pursuit of justice. Psychologists who study the human psyche to better understand how we function. People also don’t stop to think that economists and mathematicians are also liberal arts majors. Economists who help us understand how the financial world around us works and great mathematicians like Al-Khawarizmi, the father of Algebra, who left us with a legacy we use to this day.

Liberal arts majors make this world a better place when it comes to understanding humans and catering to our needs and the next generation’s needs. Liberal arts are a legacy we inherit from great minds through history, literature and poetry. History teaches us about our roots and identity. So think again before you demean a liberal arts degree. We are educators, historians, politicians, psychologists, writers, speakers, lawyers and more.

To be fair, even those of us in liberal arts sometimes can’t help but think, “What am I going to do after I graduate?” and to that I say: life is a marathon, not a sprint. Money brings food to the table and shelters us, but it certainly does not buy happiness. Go at your own pace, and learn about life and your values as you figure out what you can contribute to this world.

As students of the liberal arts, we are equipped with all the essential tools necessary to do anything we want and start any type of career. Heck, we can even start our own business and hire people who work for us instead of becoming employees of a company. We are taught how to think and articulate our thoughts eloquently without mincing our words. This is proof that our minds and our tongues are the weapons we need and sufficient to take on any task, big or small.

Life is not a race, so walk at your own pace. And you who speak useless words, worry about your own life, because we have it figured out.