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In Defense Of The Art Student, The Anthropology Major, The Poet


One thing I resent is people telling liberal arts, anthropology, creative writing, art history, (etc.) students that they should’ve studied business or computer science instead. Right, because the world needs everyone to do one of two things, that didn’t backfire when we told everyone to be a doctor or lawyer and now there are more people in school for those things, collecting debt, than available jobs???? Not everyone wants to do something like that, people actually want to be happy. There isn’t any more integrity or thought in one job than another so why are some people’s jobs valued more than others?

I went to NYU Gallatin where I constructed my own major. I studied popular culture (which is really a study of the relationship between art and commerce, low and high brow theory, and critical and social theory), along with writing. I knew what I wanted to do: discuss popular culture in an analytical way. I knew I was going to do it because I am not the kind of person who rolls over and dies. So, um, bitch, look at me now, I’m getting PAYPUR. Not a lot.

I can’t tell you all of the shade and side eye I get when I told people what I studied while I was in college. “Oh that sounds easy. Oh do you even do any work. Oh isn’t your school the easiest to get into.” No, my school is not the easiest to get into and it is quite difficult because it doesn’t provide you with an already beaten and carved path. You have to consider where all of your decisions and coursework will take you. And from over here your Power Points and “speeches” and “group assignments” look pretty fucking easy to me, but if you want to have a debate how most the mechanical reproduction of art diminishes its aura then let’s play ball.

Even other people who have studied writing say snide things. A guy studied writing in college so I asked him if he worked in that field because I studied it too. He snapped back, “Right, like you even have a job in your field.” I told him I did. He promptly shut the fuck up.

I am not shitting on people who study business or computer science. Society needs those things. Society needs all of us. It needs its janitors, its artists and its executives. We all contribute to making this place less shitty, more fun, more productive and more progressive. Stop measuring the effectiveness or value of someone’s job by how arbitrarily people get paid. Acting is great, it provides entertainment by why is being in Transformers 3 valued more than being a nurse? There is no reason.

Stop judging me based on my choice to study something I have a passion for. I get more out of writing about Justin Bieber than I do out of making money. If money is your priority, if you just want to have nice things, then go ahead, work a job you don’t like for long hours because¬†to you¬†it’s worth it. To me it’s not. For many it’s not.

There is no need to look down your nose on people who work service jobs or study things that you have deemed “useless.” If people stopped studying art history then eventually that knowledge would be gone, that conversation would be over, culture would be lost. We’d be less human.

Study what you want and fuck what they say. It is your life, it is your passion, it is your happiness. Do not let people tell you what you are worth, you tell them. You’re an H.B.I.C. Fuck what they heard.

Emerald is an editor at CollegeCandy, lover of coffee, and pretend francophile. After studying writing and popular culture at NYU she decided to be a grownup and get a job. Tweet at ya' girl @EmeraldGritty.