In my History of American Higher Education class, we’ve been learning about the creation of the American university. Harvard was the first, in 1636– I won’t be forgetting that fact anytime soon. Also, I hope that I will be of much better use to any trivia teams I join in the future.

What I wanted to point out is something that I think liberal arts majors may appreciate.

Science didn’t come onto the scene until around the 1850s. And when it did, people were like, “Ew, a science degree? You’re such a loser!” It was the cool and prestigious thing to have a Bachelor of Arts, not a Bachelor of Science (or a Bachelor of Philosophy, as Yale called their degree).

I find it funny to see how things have changed, to see how I tend to defend my “soft science” communication degree, or how I explain that, “Yes, I’m good at math and at science, but I don’t want to do that,” quite often. I also see the other side of it, how people with “hard science” interests struggle with their other interests in communication or languages or psychology or philosophy.

It used to be that practicality was pretty much laughed at, in terms of the types of degrees students sought out. Now, we’re all so worried about finding a relevant job and applying a degree that practicality is the only thing that matters. Perhaps, though, as others have done before, it’s best to balance the two– after all, college is a unique time to explore interests and passions.

I loved communication, and I formally paired it with business administration. I informally paired my degree with athletics and ethnic studies through my activities. Other people paired their hard science major with a seemingly unrelated minor.

As I keep saying, one of our biggest responsibilities in this lifetime (and especially at college) is to be accountable for and to ourselves. Don’t live too far in the future; cultivate yourself in the now.

One thought on “Prestige

  1. Elizabeth Hofeldt says:

    I would not trade my liberal arts degree for anything!

    The thing about a B.S. is that they have a tendency to pigeon-hole people into specific career or education paths. A B.A. in the liberal arts (especially in history, english, philosophy, social studies, etc…) often leads people to think that you aren’t marketable in the “real world”. In reality, you are probably more marketable because of the fact that, although you don’t have job-specific knowledge, a liberal arts degree has trained you in the art of learning – basically how/where to find information, how to evaluate/analyze that information, and how to apply that information. The ability to think critically can’t be trained in the workplace – it must be learned over time.

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