“What’s your major?” is a question we’re all too familiar with by now, especially students in their junior and senior years. The past four years I have received a variety of responses to this question and unfortunately, they are rarely encouraging.
“Broadcast journalism,” I answer. Before I have the chance to share what I intend to do with my degree I receive: “Oh, you must not want a job.” This answer came from a friend of a friend who is majoring in mechanical engineering. I was annoyed by this stranger’s response, but not surprised.
In the past I have met students majoring in “harder” classes, such as science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) majors, who have belittled my choice. It’s a stereotype that communications students pick their majors based on the lack of required science and math courses.
This is nothing new for communications majors as students from outside majors believe communications students have the easiest course load and rarely get hired. These comments upset me, but I understand why outside majors may feel entitled to such remarks.
While I never received A’s in math or science courses, I did not chose my major based solely on the fact that it required minimal skills in these fields. As a communications major, I didn’t have to enroll in a dreaded three-hour lab like most students have to, and in terms of mathematical courses, I only needed two my entire time at Penn State.
While some students may look at my schedule and think I’ve had it easy, others may disagree as the majority of my course work cannot be completed at a library or in a dorm room like most majors.
Last semester, I was enrolled in two broadcasting classes that were located at Innovation Park. Occasionally, I was able to carpool with another student most days I was at the mercy of the Red Link bus which only made stops every 17 minutes when it was on time. Between four and six days a week, I spent an hour comminuting to Innovation Park.
Additionally, I needed to rent equipment and use the editing room for projects at Innovation Park. The equipment room closes at 5 p.m. every day and most equipment rentals are only good for less than 24 hours. Between my commute, a limited window to complete projects, working as a copy editor two nights a week and my regular course work for other classes, I felt myself questioning my choice in major and by extent, my future career. With my busy schedule, I didn’t even had the opportunity to enjoy simple luxuries such as meeting friends for lunch or going to an event on campus.
With my workload piling up, I had to remind myself why I chose this major. I majored in journalism because I have always loved to write. I remember coming home from school, collecting scrap paper and colored markers to build a picture book to show off to my family and friends. I loved telling stories and watching my imagination come to life.
This is not to say that STEM majors aren’t creative or imaginative. On the contrary, I know STEM majors, and every major for the matter, requires students to think critically. However, college shouldn’t be a competition of who has the hardest classes or most demanding curriculum.
Everyone experiences stress in college, and the majority of us probably ask ourselves, is it worth it? Do I want to do this for the rest of my life? I had to ask myself similar questions.
Should I have picked a different major? Do I really want to enter a career that doesn’t offer a 9-5 schedule or a desirable paycheck? The answer is yes. When I chose my major I did not base my decision off of a paycheck. I based my decision off of what would make me happiest.
Even if I later decide journalism is no longer the career for me, there are other careers that hire employees with strong communications skills.
Penn State does not set students up for failure. If communications wasn’t a desirable job, then it wouldn’t be one of the biggest colleges at Penn State. There is no such thing as a “bad” or “easy” major because those terms are subjective. We find our careers based on the passions and skills we possess.