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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

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Lily GouinApril 19, 2024

Liberal arts stigma misguided

When it comes to picking a major, nothing is considered as impractical as choosing a liberal arts degree. Students in the humanities often receive pitying looks from friends and family; people think you are going to be another unemployment statistic.

The question many ask over and over again to a student with a liberal arts degree is, “so what are you going to do with that?” This question can make a student feel certain that they are doomed, though they are pursuing a degree they are passionate about. A student might doubt themselves because of this constant disapproval, and switch majors in haste, a decision they may later regret.

During the Month of Majors at NMU, do not rule out a degree in the field of liberal arts just because some say no money can be made in the humanities.

Though the world needs biologists, chemists and computer science majors, someone has to edit their journal articles, theses and software documentation.

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As an English writing major, I know the pitying looks and the disapproving gestures all too well. I’ve seen it time and time again when I tell someone I’m going to school for English.

What I want to know is where this stigma against liberal arts majors comes from. Isn’t the goal in life to be happy, not to make money hand over fist?

I could very easily be a biology major and do research for the rest of my life, but I would be miserable.

Dissecting and studying organisms simply does not peak my interest nor does it do much for my appetite.

Obviously, there would be a great deal of money to be made for someone working in a science-related field, but what good is money when you aren’t happy with what you’re doing in life?

I would rather spend the rest of my career doing something I love and earn a modest living than to do something I hate just because it comes with a larger paycheck.

I may not be discovering the cure for cancer, but I could very well be the writer to dumb down that science report so everyone else can understand it.

Having a liberal arts degree should not be looked down on with such disdain.

It’s a life choice and not something that should be judged. Just because someone doesn’t choose to be a doctor or a lawyer doesn’t mean they should be looked down on.

And no, just because I have a liberal arts degree does not mean I will be asking “do you want fries with that?” for the rest of my life.

Being a liberal arts major doesn’t mean your highest potential is to become crew leader of whatever fast-food joint will take you first. I’ve come to learn that there are so many different opportunities for individuals like myself just in the field of English.

There’s journalism, technical writing, editorial work, communications and much more.

English is one of the most versatile degrees out there because it is a degree that emphasizes solely on communication, an area that every industry and employer needs some sort of person to manage in order to be successful.

I personally want to be an editor. I want to be the person that reads through novel after novel and decides which one is the next best seller and which belongs in the recycling bin.

It’s a literature geek’s greatest dream and one that I hope to accomplish.

It’s what makes me happy, just like how working with patients or creating the marketing scheme for the next greatest product makes others happy.

So before you start shaking your head at the next liberal arts major you come across, take a moment and appreciate the fact that that person is trying to live their life in the way that makes them happiest.

Who knows, you could be looking at our generation’s most prolific up-and-coming writer.

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