The wrongful hierarchy of college majors

Elyse Grothaus (‘19)

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I think it was after my first day of kindergarten that I decided to become a teacher. Throughout the years, my passion for education and my understanding about the transformation of students lives through learning only deepened. It was during my junior year of high school when people began asking me what I wanted to do with my life and when I informed them that I wanted to become an educator the response I often faced was: “But you’re too smart to be a teacher.” This response never ceased to astound and anger me, but I told myself that people would mature past the ranking of intelligence according to GPA that is all too pervasive in high school. Then college came.

Students may not be given the titles of valedictorian or salutatorian in college, but there exists an unspoken agreement about the standing that each major holds. Some majors (like education) are considered easy, some people immediately assume that those pursuing a major such as English will never find a job — so why bother? Some people think that only the smartest students can major in the sciences. I worry that this backwards way of thinking influences students when they declare a major and these stereotypes undoubtedly create divides in society and a lack of understanding about others.

People rank and sort and spend all too much time comparing their choices in life to the choices of others. I believe that every major is important and challenging in its own right. I believe that every student is intelligent and the true test lies in the work they are willing to put into their major. Graduates who are passionate about their career choice, not students who choose a major based on its stereotypes, are the people who will change the world. This country needs smart people in every job, not just the medical industry! Also, in our ever-changing world the reality is that people are preparing for jobs that may not even exist yet, so why do we still believe in obsolete stereotypes about the value of different degrees?

Luther is a liberal arts college which emphasizes the importance of developing a broad range of knowledge. The college’s mission statement even says that “Luther is committed to a way of learning that moves us beyond immediate interests and present knowledge into a larger world.” As students we must value the importance of every field of study and focus on the many ways that careers intersect instead of isolating them.

Luther’s mission statement also emphasizes that “As people of all backgrounds, we embrace diversity and challenge one another to learn in community, to discern our callings, and to serve with distinction for the common good.” If this is the case, we must move past the discrimination of certain majors and career choices and understand every person’s unique place in and impact on the world.


Elyse Grothaus (‘19)

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