Kristen Steagall – BA 2010 Russian and Eastern European Studies
Sometimes I get mad at my fellow liberal arts graduates, really stinking mad. It seems that so many of us are pessimistic about our liberal arts degrees. “No one will hire me,” one of my friends complains. “It has no practical use,” cries another. It’s enough to make me want to shake them and say, “good god man get a hold of yourself!”
When did we decide to give others the power to judge the efficacy of our education? You’re going to let someone tell you that your English degree isn’t good enough? That history is not applicable to the real world? That philosophy is antiquated? Who are they to judge? The only person that knows the true worth of your education is you; and if there is one thing you should never do is undermine your own achievements.
So someone doesn’t think your history degree awarded you real life skills? What about the discipline and tenacity, yes tenacity, it takes to get through 700 pages of reading in a week. Not just anyone can get through Herodotus’ The Histories and Said’s Orientalism in five days.
Or how about the creativity it takes to reinterpret the world in Philosophy classes? A “real life” job never requires you to draw conclusons through observation and synthesis? And don’t get me started on English majors. Who better to understand people and their motivations than those who spent four years reading about them! In my opinion, English majors make the best managers.
I say to hell with the liberal arts naysayers. The purpose of education should not be to create another cog for a corporate machine; that’s why corporations have training programs. It’s to create more well-rounded, observant, intelligent, vibrant, capable and expressive people. It’s carrying on the products and traditions of our intellectual evolution while creating new ones. It’s embracing the very top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs!
We liberal arts degree holders must stand up and defend our diplomas. Eleanor Roosevelt once said “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Well I say it’s high-time we stopped consenting and started waving our diplomas high, string them up from lamposts and dance under their splendor. We are LSA’ers, hear us roar!
What do you think readers? Do you agree that being a language major not only teaches you to speak a foreign language but also gives you an advantage when navigating the increasingly multicultural workplace? Can you think of anyone better than a religious studies major to aid in writing foreign policy? Sound off!
Kristen is an executive team member of the LSA Dean’s Young Alumni Council.