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Stereotypes in Majors


Photo Courtesy of The New Yorker

Article Written by Hannah Vandegrift

Does the phrase “English major” bring to mind a teacher or professor with glasses surround- ed by books? Or does“Environ- mental Science Studies major” make you think of someone hugging trees or studying the growth of grass? College majors and their stereotypes influence how a lot of people might think

about a person. If you’re an English major and the first thing that someone says to you when you tell them is, “Oh so you want to be a teacher?” then you know what I’m talking about.

A stereotype is a set of beliefs that a person has about their own group or other groups of people. According to an article on stereotypes by James W. Rinehart, these beliefs “are ordinarily oversimplified and seldom correspond with the objective facts.”

Freshman Julia Hayes de- scribed her Business major if it was defined as a stereotype: “Super serious, doesn’t party, and dresses nicer than the aver- age student,” she said; however, many business majors do not dress in suits or fine dresses to class each day. Additionally, a person’s degree does not tell how much, or how little, they will party or how their personal- itywillbe,butstereotypesthem- selves have a lot of influence.

In a study done by George- town University, they found that degrees in the arts or social sciences earned some of the lowest wages compared to the highest degrees in Engineering, Health, or Computers/Math- ematics. The stereotypes that come with degrees in social sciences or arts, perhaps, formed from these types of statistics.

Some students studying Mathematics or Engineering are stereotypically seen as being extremely smart with the ability to calculate math equations in seconds, or figuring out which parameters you can safely ig- nore. With the exception of “straightforward” majors like these, most majors are seen as “one career majors” such as Creative Writing, Art, Theatre, History, etc. Students are even sometimes warned about these majors because of the possible low wage ramifications.

However, it is also import- ant to note that, without English, Communications, or Journalism degrees, you would not be able to read this newspaper right now. Or without Graphic Designers, we would not have the pages and layouts to print them on. You would not have the clothes you are wearing if not for designers creating the clothing.

In essence, every major is based in necessity and im- portance and it is important to follow what you love because that is the true reward.