It’s time to stop major shaming

Shawn McFarland
@McFarland_Shawn

I really don’t consider myself a petty person. Now, depending on who you ask, that statement can be debated. But still, I’d like to think I’m not someone who opts to hold grudges.

That being said, I still think about something that someone told me over two-and-a-half years ago, at least twice a week.

I was a sophomore, taking some general education class. I honestly forget the context of the conversation, but it somehow led me to discussing my major – Communications/Sports Journalism.

Another person in the conversation chimed in: ‘Well I’m in a real major,” they said. I paused, before responding with what I can only imagine was an equally snarky comment.

They responded back: “You know what I mean.” Plot twist: I didn’t know what they meant.

A real major? It says on my transcript that I’m in a real major. I sure wouldn’t have come to Springfield College to enroll in a faux major, that’s for sure. So, what did this student in an apparently authentic major mean by this?

It’s actually simple. I don’t have to attend a two-hour lab each week. I’m not writing up lesson plans, or 30 page reports, or doing clinical rotations. I am, in some people’s eyes, in a major where the homework involves watching, and writing about, sports. The papers are shorter. The classes are, apparently, considered easier and less strenuous.

I know I’m not the only one who has faced this. What triggered this column was a tweet that popped up onto my timeline earlier this week: “College is crazy because you can be in the library working on your 20+ page biochem lab report while some girl sitting next to you cuts out gingerbread men for her education class and complains about not having enough time to do it.”

So let’s talk about this, if you’ll indulge me. This belief that some majors are more important than others. Or some people’s time and effort are held in a higher regard than others.

Let’s just end that stigma, ok?

Now, before I get too deep into this, I want to clarify my respect for any student in any major. Hey, college is tough. And this isn’t a debate over which career is more important than others. I’ll be the first to tell you that any doctor, teacher, or politician should be held in a higher regard than a journalist.

But we’re talking about college – the 4-to-8 years spent between the days of the high school and the ominous and often cloudy future we either look forward to or dread.

In college, everyone is grinding. I’ve never had to spend hours memorizing parts of the human body. But I have spent hours traveling to-and-from internships since the latter half of my freshman year. If I don’t do that, I don’t have a job. Just like the students studying a science won’t if they can’t name every muscle

No, I’ve never locked myself in the library for hours to study. But I’ve locked myself into the newspaper office, sandwiched between Abbey and the Union, for hours. No, not hours, days. Because if I don’t do that, I don’t have a job. Just like every physical education major won’t if they can’t formulate a lesson plan.

I’ve never sat in agony after a bad test grade. I’ll be honest, I’ve never cared about test grades. I can’t remember the last time I’ve taken a standardized test in my major. But I have lamented over stories that I spent weeks, even months, working on that never quite came together. The story that I thought I was going to be everything simply turned into nothing.

You want to cry, kick and scream. Because that story which you spend days on is supposed to be a reflection of yourself as a writer. But all you see is failure.

Just like any other student when they fail a test. Because when you pour your life into something and fail at it, man, you just might not get a job.

At the risk of sounding incredibly cliche, we are truly all in this together. So how about we put a stop to major shaming? Because we’re all up late, working on assignments. For some of us it’s a 20 page biochem report. For some of us, it’s cutting out gingerbread men. For some of us, it’s this column for the student newspaper.

For all of us, it’s our passion.

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