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Arts Degrees.

13 February 201110:01AMrants

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me why I was doing an arts degree, I wouldn't have to do any degree at all and could go off and buy a private island and spend the rest of my life under a palm tree.

The conversation invariably goes like this:
Person: Hey, I heard you did really well in your exams! What course are you doing?
Me: Arts (Communications) at UWA
Person: Huh. Don't know why you're bothering with arts with a score like that.

Now, the way I normally finish this conversation is like this:

Me: Yeah, well...

and conversation moves on.

Here's how I want to finish it.

Firstly, it really isn't any of your business what I do at university. Last time I checked, it was my future that was in question, not yours. If I wanted your advice, I'd ask for it, and if I don't want your advice on courses, careers and any other goddamned thing which starts with a c, (and trust me, I don't), then you don't especially need to give it.

Now I know back in your day (and strangely enough, this advice always comes from someone whose 'day' is long since past) you were expected to do the most prestigious course you could get into. If you got the marks, you were expected to be a doctor, or a lawyer, or an engineer, because that's what would make mummy and daddy proud, and get you a 40-year career and a wife and a mortgage and 2.3 kids and a nice car and a neat little home in the suburbs to retire in. Never mind if little Johnny pukes at the sight of blood, and is really quite talented at music, if he gets the score, goddamn it he's going to do medicine. Unfortunately for your penchant for giving advice, (and I know this may be news to you), this expectation is no longer necessarily the norm. These days, you don't have to do the highest course you can get into, you don't have to jump straight on the career train, and it is okay to follow what your interests are.

Speaking of interests, let me clue you in on something. Do you know what piece of careers advice I've received since starting high school has been? "Do what interests you." Never "Do what will earn you the most stacks of cash" or "Do the hardest course you can feasibly do". Everyone seems to approve of this advice generally, and yet as soon as the phrase 'Arts degree' is mentioned, 'what interests me' transmutes magically into 'waste of time'. I like history, and writing, and languages. Everyone agrees that's great! So what am I going to do? Historical Engineering? Medical Language? No wait, those subjects are Arts subjects, and whoops, I'm back in the 'wasting my time' box again.

I know that 'with scores like that' I could get into anything I want. But someone who picks the hardest course they can see just for prestige or money or whatever other screwed up reason is like the person who's at a buffet and takes as much as they can, piles their plate high with food they don't necessarily want just because they can. This is what we noticed in Egypt on the Nile cruise with included meals. And you know what? An absurd proportion of the people on that boat were, not to put too fine a point on it, obese. Taking something just because it's there and because you can is not always a good idea, and doing so without consideration is almost certainly immature.

So yes. I know I could've got into anything I want. It just so happens that what I want, at this point in time, corresponds most closely with an Arts degree. It may not be wise, it may not correspond to a 'career path', and I may hate it, and I may change courses, but you know what? That's something that I have to find out for myself, and frankly, I'll thank you to mind your own business.

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