YOUTH VOICE: There are no ‘useless’ majors

It is time for all of us to jettison flawed mentalities which judge majors solely based upon monetary reward.

  • Jun. 14, 2012 9:00 a.m.

In a recent article released by The Daily Beast, the 13 most “useless” post-secondary majors were listed.

In the article titled, “The 13 Most Useless Majors, From Philosophy to Journalism,” rankings were mainly based on the employment rate, earnings and projected growth.

Everything from architecture to political science was on this list. The majority of the majors were from the fields of arts and social sciences.

However, details aside, what really annoyed me was that these majors were listed as “useless.”

Yes, graduates with some majors have faced bleak employment prospects over the years. But does this give anyone  the right to group 13 majors under the umbrella of “useless?”

Aside from my initial disappointment, reading this ranking forced me to raise an issue which has been lingering in my mind since my Planning 10 class in high school.

It is not only popular news sites that term some majors as “useless.” I have seen a similar mentality in fellow students and others.

In my Planning 10 class, students explored a variety of careers and analyzed their different aspects. Since then, I spent my senior high school years exploring different majors and career options in my own time.

I discussed these choices with career counsellors, university advisors and teachers, who supported the idea that a student should choose a major that he or she enjoys and wishes to learn more about.

I absolutely agree. Knowledge should be a journey of personal enrichment.

I am aware that financial considerations should also be made when one chooses an educational path, but should one forcefully enrol in an educational pathway which only affords financial satisfaction, not personal satisfaction?

What has really perplexed me is the disparity between opinions voiced by educators and those voiced by other professionals. Educators often encourage students to choose a field that interests them, in which financial reward is a byproduct of one’s passion. Those outside of the educational sphere have usually thought otherwise. They are eager to declare such thinking as unrealistic.

Though I am planning to pursue medicine after completing my undergraduate degree, I often see other science students viewing the subjects of arts with scorn. I find this disturbing, considering the leaders of countries and major institutions often hold arts or social science degrees.

In fact, as listed on UBC’s arts undergraduates webpage, 22 per cent of CEOs of the Fortune 500 companies have a business degree, while 20 per cent hold an arts degree.

For all those wishing to pursue an arts or social science major, they should not get discouraged from the myths that flow around the subject.

It is also time for all of us to jettison flawed mentalities which judge majors solely based upon monetary reward. There is no such thing as a so-called “useless” major.

Japreet Lehal writes monthly for Peace Arch News on youth issues.



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