How many of you have ever witnessed a conversation like this:
“Writing Studies? What are you going to do with that degree?”
“You don’t look like a computer science major.”
“You’re so lucky to have the easy major.”
“Honestly, if it’s not STEM — it’s a waste of money.”
These comments are just a few examples of major shaming. In case you were unaware, major shaming is the act of making someone feel less than or embarrassed by their field of study. Not only does it strip students of their voices and self-esteem, but it also discredits the amount of effort and work it takes to succeed in that field.
Major shaming is wrong, and has no place on campus or anywhere else. Yet, it is still an incredibly common phenomenon on college campuses. For example, in her recent article on major shaming, a student from John Hopkins University, Jacqui Neber, wrote that students at John Hopkins University nicknamed the university’s prestigious Krieger School of Arts and Sciences the “School of Arts and Crafts.”
Though all majors can experience shaming, those who pursue degrees related to social sciences and humanities are disproportionately targeted. As a Writing Studies major, I was surprised by the sheer number of students in my field who were able to share stories of friends, family members, co-workers and even fellow students shaming them for their chosen major.
This is unfortunate, because there is room for both fields to co-exist — no one field is better than the other. College should be a place where students can learn and build upon their strengths — not fear of the criticism they’ll face for pursuing their interests.
College is like a garden: As students, we are the gardeners and our majors are the unique flowers we’d like to grow. Major shaming is like a weed — it suffocates the sprouts and growth of the respective flower. Though it may start with killing off certain flowers first, pretty soon, the weed will ruin the entire garden.
Major shaming is a major problem for universities. We must put an end to it before it ruins the diversity and open atmosphere that makes college so appealing.