A defence of my degree subject

I’m midway through my 7th week  of university (8th week if you count Freshers which, rightfully so, no one seems to) and already the crushing feeling of ‘shit what have I let myself in for’ has arrived when I have moments such as this in which I am able to contemplate life in general. And when I say ‘moments such as this’ I mean ‘moments when I’m procrastinating starting the reading for a politics essay’, naturally.

Spurred on to consider by this comment piece on SCAN, I am now thinking ‘shit, I’m doing a subject I enjoy just for the sake of enjoying it, what the bloody hell was I thinking?!’ Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am… an Arts student, specifically a literature student. No, don’t back away shaking your head in pity at my situation! Believe it or not, I came to university to pursue a subject I enjoyed, yes, that’s it, nothing more than out of sheer bloody enjoyment for literature. And I’m loving it thus far, even with the essays and deadlines and coursework and countless other things to do in any given week. It makes me sad that people who love Arts subjects might have to abandon them in order to take more employable subjects. Obviously I don’t have a crystal ball but, with the tuition fee rises kicking it in 2012, I wouldn’t be surprised if people reconsidered what they could get out of this shedload of money they will be frittering away in the pursuit of higher education.

If I had been born a year later, I would be in the process of applying to university and you know what? For all my love of Literature, I would have a niggling doubt at the back of my mind about whether or not to drop it for a subject that employers respect more and has more clear-cut pathways into graduate schemes. Seriously. It’s a damning thing to admit but partially true. I mean, after all, what’s the point of Literature and a Literature student? What could someone with that degree possibly contribute to a company they were applying to work at?

*raises hand sheepishly* Umm ability to locate, read and synthesise masses of specialised information? Ability to analyse and consider different critical opinions and where they stand along with one’s own? Close-reading ability in order to scrutinise texts to get at not only their surface meaning, but also their connotive meanings? Ability to manage deadlines and organise time effectively? Ability to write a piece of extended writing coherently and confidently?  No, you’re right, who on earth would want someone with that kind of transferable skill-set in their company?! Absurd, arts students should wise up and choose a better degree to study.

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