Why I Chose The “Worthless Major”

When I graduated from college, I was one of two students graduating with an Art History degree. I found that to be a little sad. I won’t be surprised if that major no longer exists five years down the road at that university, because the certain demands available and qualifications are so high, it makes it impossible to meet those needs. I will admit, it’s been over a year since I have graduated, and I have yet to find a job in my field. Do I regret my decision to major in Art History? Not at all. And here’s why.

I’ve been drawing pictures since I could breathe. Because my sisters were so much older than me, I used my time wisely by drawing all day every day. My mom recalls a time when she bought my first easel when I was about 3-years-old. I spent three months straight working on a painting using acrylics, finger paints, and leaves from outside. I wouldn’t let my mom see it until it was absolutely perfect. When I finally finished, it was splattered with paint, my fingers smudged around the edges, and leaves glued to the paper.

I continued to draw and paint all through elementary school, middle school, high school, and then college.

I sent my portfolio to UNH, where they accepted me into their Studio Art program.

After a year of studying drawing, attended three hour long classes twice a week, sketching nude models that I would later see elsewhere on campus, and eventually throwing random items together on my dorm room floor just to draw something for an assignment, Something involving a mirror, I decided this major wasn’t for me. I was losing my creativity, and my patience was increasingly low due to the fact that I was working on one still life for half of the semester. And my bank account wasn’t pretty having to spend money on new art supplies every semester.

I was required to take an Introduction to Art History course, which I found myself to enjoy much more than my studio classes. I barely survived what they called the “easiest math class at UNH”, so I knew my options would stay within the Liberal Arts College and my interests. I did some research on the major before making final decisions. Many websites suggested not to do it, that I would be wasting my college career, but I had heard this many times before even with a Studio Art degree.

When I told my family I was changing my major to Art History, none of them questioned me on it. My mom thought it was the coolest thing! They all supported me and knew I would do great, to which I did because I was good at it. It was difficult beyond measure, but I studied the hardest I had ever studied in my academic career. I spent nearly 12 hours working on final papers on Leonardo Da Vinci and Jacques Louis David and the French Revolution. After asking a professor for a text book on Rembrandt, he gave me a text book written all in Dutch, to which I spent an entire afternoon trying to translate just to take notes.

I’ve experienced amazing moments that I wouldn’t have found to be all that amazing if I wasn’t an Art History major.

I visited the Louvre Museum in Paris where I was on cloud 9 and sat in front of Jacques Louis David’s Brutus for what seemed like thirty minutes while Sam just sat next to me. He didn’t care that we were standing in front of the same painting for that long, and he didn’t care that an hour later, I wanted to go back just to look at it again. I wouldn’t have enjoyed the Louvre nearly as much if I were any other major, I know that for a fact.

Art History is a lot more than just memorizing famous artists and paintings. It’s about learning the culture and importance of great historical events. How would we all find the Sistine Chapel to be so enthralling without the art historians to inform us of it’s importance? I got goose bumps when watching Monuments Men when Cate Blanchett says that all of this artwork are peoples lives. 

When I tell strangers that I’m an Art History major, they nod their heads slowly, but I can see through their eyes that they think I’m completely crazy. What are you going to do with that? Honestly, probably not much, which is why I’ve decided to go onto grad school to get my master’s in creative writing, which is when they ask me the same question, and I express my love for teaching. I’ve even had people snort with laughter when I explain this to them, and I can’t understand why. I had no intention to study business or even engineering, and just because I may not become wealthy or financially stable, doesn’t make me less smart.

Most of my friends (who were business majors) that graduated had mentioned how they wished they studied something else. Even Sam, who has a bachelor’s degree in finance has decided to go back to school for something he loves which is Sports Management. In our economy, many students are taking the easy way out. Sure, some of them may love business and accounting, and may love working for big corporations, but just because there are more jobs in that field doesn’t mean it suits everybody.

I know that I made the smart decision to become an Art History major, and then get my master’s in creative writing. I could imagine my future if I took what I consider the “easy” way out. If I had majored in accounting, I would have moved onto a business where I worked comfortably making a steady income, get married, have kids where it matters to have a steady income, and then twenty years down the road regretting it because I would be unhappy in my career and wished I had done something else. At least with my degrees now, I have plenty of time to find my place in the world, and I have no doubt that I will make it there.


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