Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Woes Of A Liberal Arts Major
By Mark Moran

It’s an American ritual; at eighteen we throw our children either into the work world or further into the academic world. Either way a young person is tossed, they are faced with a bevy of choices. The most important and most common is a career choice. With adolescence almost behind them and childhood becoming a fading memory, the hopes for careers like astronaut or super model seem unlikely when looking into the grim face of the real world. So one by one our wide-eyed youths settle.

The future astronauts become business majors and the models get jobs at the Gap. These young people have accepted their descent into mediocrity and can feel relaxed when learning about the stock market or folding v-neck sweaters.

Unfortunately, some of us can’t settle. We want bigger and better things, but the means for this grandiose life is still undetermined. We live in the middle. We are the liberal arts majors. Everyday, we wonder what exactly a degree in Communication or English actually means. We toss and turn in our small dorm room beds, trying to remember if we were ever good at anything. For an unlucky few, what they learn from those long nights is that they have been slightly above average in everything.

Therefore, sticking to one field or career is nearly impossible. This means only one thing for this unfortunate breed of liberal arts majors – stress.

Working towards a degree in anything is stressful. Working towards a degree that’s use is unknown is like diet soda: it’s the exact same drink but not as sweet and could give you cancer. According to the University of Florida Counseling Center, some symptoms of stress include: headaches, anger, backaches, forgetfulness, and difficulty concentrating. The University of Florida needs to add one more symptom to their list: losing your mind. That’s what many oh-so-lost liberal arts majors are looking for, their mind. We’re not only looking for the remnants of our sanity, we’re also looking for guidance.

Twice a year we meet with our advisor to discuss registration for the next semester. Why can’t we have some meetings about life goals, or just to clarify the meaning of our degree that we are paying so much money for? College is a time when you begin to define what you want from the world. For some of us, we need a little extra help. A business major may call us babies, but that business major once wanted to be an astronaut. Maybe our advisor wanted to be one too. There is nothing wrong with accepting a more realistic career, as long as you remain a generally happy person.

But some of us won’t be happy sitting in a cubicle praying that it’s someone’s birthday so we can get free cake. For us who are cubicle-phobic, we need the institutions to help us. We need meetings with our advisors to discuss a future, not just next semester. We need thorough explanations of what we can do with our degrees. What we are asking for, in essence, is guidance.

This American ritual of forcing a young person to decide what they want to do with their life before they can legally have a beer is not only stressful, it is also unfair. The least our parents, teachers, and schools can do is offer a little guidance. Help us work towards a recognizable goal; don’t let us be diet soda.

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