In a society heavily embedded with competition, students may find it difficult to focus on themselves and refrain from comparing grades, test scores and awards with those of their peers. This sense of validation through comparison extends beyond components of college applications to the future after students receive decisions. Considering what a student will pursue in their higher education, a sense of elitism arose regarding college majors and their impact on “success.”
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”– Theodore Roosevelt
Certain majors have common stereotypes that, in actuality, do not hold true but still create a social hierarchy depending on a student’s concentration. For example, “The Odyssey” describes Psychology majors as defensive towards those that doubt the integrity of their field, Business majors as aimless yet concerned with job stability and Journalism majors as typical “hipsters.” While these descriptions serve to entertain readers, the stereotypes presented did not suddenly appear. The volume “Crisis in the Humanities” by J.H. Plumb warned that a science-focused world left no room for humane pursuits which sparked greater discussion of “the imminent extinction” of humanities as an area of study and stable job field. These discussions led to the now widespread debate between STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) majors and humanities majors. Debates about the validity, rigor and value of degrees in these separate fields have produced greater divides among college students and distracts them from focusing on building connections in an open community.
The inherent comparison of oneself to others, even in trivial matters such as college majors, promotes destructive behavior and focuses energy on bringing people down rather than raising them up. Psychology Today offers commentary on competitive comparison and methods of breaking “the habit of feeling insecure, envious and discontented with your life.” This comparison extends beyond STEM and humanities majors with Twitter memes poking fun at a wide range of majors becoming commonplace. The intentions of these memes seem harmless enough but still show the rampant rivalry and defensive behavior caused by belittling someone’s passion.
To move away from negative mental spaces and feelings of inferiority because of your interests, we must actively stop feeding into petty discussions on the value of different majors.