What is Liberal Arts and “What are you going to do with that?”

Carly Yamrus, Opinion Editor

I’m sure I can speak for many people at this school when I say I spend a considerable amount of time defending my choice in major. I’ve only been doing it for about a year now, and I can tell you that it is rather taxing, always justifying your unique strengths and talents to dubious individuals who ask questions such as “And what are you going to DO with that?”
Yes, I’m talking about the liberal arts degrees. We have communications studies, English, history, philosophy, Spanish, integrative media … Let me just hit up the list of the top10 “useless majors” real quick.
If you search the Internet for “useless majors,” it gets a lot of hits. That’s because a lot of people have the same narrow-minded views on what the value of education actually is.
If you’re thinking “value” as in what degree is going to make you the most money in life, well then that’s on your end. Some of us aren’t thinking that way. Some of us are thinking about what we want to love doing for the rest of our lives. These “useless” lists are merely based of off unemployment rates and earnings.
We’ll start with fine arts. Sadly enough, the United States is not an art-appreciating country.
Post-impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh died penniless because his work was unappreciated in his time. Nobody cared about “Starry Night.” Today, Van Gogh is known as one of the most famous and influential artists to date. Someone should have told Van Gogh that fine arts were useless.
Film and photography. This area of study is looked down upon, yet almost everyone I know watches some form of film and looks at some type of photography. These are skills.
I am sorry that recent technology has blurred the line between amateur and artist so much, that we undermine the talent of the videographer or photographer and tell them that their expertise is essentially worthless.  You can thank your film major for your favorite television shows or movies. You can thank a photographer for taking the pictures at your wedding, or for capturing awe-inspiring photos on the cover of Time magazine and National Geographic.
Architecture.  Defined as “the product of planning, designing and construction.” Meaning every building in existence took some sort of planning, designing and constructing. Architectural degrees are looked at as somewhat glorified art degrees. If that is so, then New York City is merely a glorified piece of art.
English. What can you do with an English degree? A whole lot of things. I’ve spent some time in the English department here at Wilkes and I was actually really surprised by what a completely different world it is over there. A lot of them are phenomenal writers and are very creative. They know how to think critically and analyze texts. These skills could be of use in fields such as marketing, publishing, advertising, education and the like.
Communications. Communications is essentially the study of human discourse and how we create shared meaning through symbols. Communications majors go on to become writers, public relations specialists, television and radio personalities, lawyers, lobbyists … the list goes on and on. But if I had to sum up what we do in a single line, I’d say that communicators give a voice to those who do not have one. And to anyone who can see the value in that, it is in no way useless.
We can’t all be doctors, pharmacists, engineers, astrophysicists, chemists and mathematicians. There are other jobs out there that contribute to society and are just as important as those aforementioned. Every area of study can be beneficial in some way.
It’s important to recognize what these so-called “useless majors” bring to the table.  Not everyone’s learning is memorizing entire textbooks and regurgitating information for tests. It all requires different types of work.
We all come here for very different reasons, pursuing very different career paths, but we’re all here regardless.