Please note: This article was written and published several years ago and may no longer be accurate.
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Are you considering a degree in the arts?
Arts and humanities degrees have long been under scrutiny, dominating Forbes’ “Worst College Majors” lists for years on end, and consistently reporting lower salaries than STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and business degrees. Despite this statistic, programs in music, literature, and even philosophy continue to thrive at colleges across the nation. Why, with so many critics, do students continue to choose to major in arts and humanities?
1. There’s no better way to teach creativity and problem solving.
Have you ever tried writing a novel? Reading through your first draft and finding plot holes can be heartbreaking — but fixing these teaches creative problem solving that employers need in their companies.
Arts students see problems like this in their day-to-day work all the time, and they learn to develop solutions that show more creativity than the logical STEM degrees harbor.
In addition to creativity, arts students learn to be competitive, work well under pressure, and become detail-oriented perfectionists — all great qualities for a potential employee.
2. Money doesn’t define success or happiness.
An arts career can be a real hit-or-miss, with salaries ranging from under the poverty line to into the millions. Either way, money can’t buy happiness. Many people want money to find happiness outside of work, but I think it’s invaluable to enjoy your day job. Don’t defer happiness – don’t wait until that upcoming vacation or that milestone to be happy. Find joy in every moment.
“The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.” – Henry Ward Beecher
3. Not everyone gets a career in his or her major field.
In fact, while many employers want their candidates to hold degrees, not all are picky about what kind of degree it is. You can get a job in business with a degree you enjoyed studying for!
4. Artists will work long hours (on any project) – until the job is done.
Music students live in practice rooms, staying until they feel comfortable with their performance, often until 2 A.M. or even later. This commitment is a staple of passionate arts majors.
5. Art is an integral part of a nation’s culture, and someone has to keep it alive!
What would America’s history be without Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, or Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind? Books like this give us an insight into the past, revealing cultural values and the transformation of languages.
We can also watch these transformations through music and the visual arts. Music helps us define cultural boundaries, like between tribes in Africa. Ancient Greek mosaics and Renaissance art show us what humans were like before the current generations.
We can’t escape the need for art to define culture — someone in liberal arts college right now could be the next Mozart, Picasso, or Twain!
6. The best reason to pursue a degree in the arts is that it’s simply your passion.
If you can’t see yourself doing anything else for the rest of your life, that’s a big hint that you may be destined for a career in the arts! Many students choose majors in hopes of large future salaries and hate their college years. College can be fun even in class if you enjoy your major – and why wouldn’t you choose to have fun?
So to all the business, engineering, and math majors: you guys keep things working. We need logical people like you to keep the world turning!
Leave it to the arts kids to develop new ideas, think outside the box, and create art that lasts beyond our own lifetimes, continuing to touch hearts and grow minds for generations. Give your fellow arts and humanities majors a pat on the back — they deserve it!
Why did you choose your major? Let me know in the comments!