We Are What We Study?

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Ben Kuxmann

We all know the drill about college. Everyone comes in having some sort of interest that eventually drives them to choosing a major that will (hopefully) lead to a career. It makes sense. 

For those of us that don’t have a specific career in mind, majoring in a broader topic like business or English allows you that flexibility to choose a different career down the road. It’s also great because it allows you to meet and be around people with similar interests as you will constantly have to spend class time together or even live in an LLC.

But there something very annoying about how people react to each other’s majors. Once you pick a specific major, you suddenly don’t know anything about any other content area. How many times have you seen someone struggle with math and blame it on them being an English major, or when you’re taking a class not specific to your content area and you “I’m a music major when am I ever going to use this?” 

While it does make some sense that someone choosing to focus their education on a particular subject would not be as interested in learning about another topic, they don’t suddenly become some dunce.

As an English major myself, I cannot count how many times I’ve had to do mental math on the spot, and someone has yelled out “come on English major” and people actually think that was funny. But whether you’re an English major or any other type of major, you are still capable of understanding things outside your specific major area.

This doesn’t just apply to the thinking of students, but professors and other adults as well. Those with doctorates, who have spent years receiving a higher education, often claim to struggle in other areas and make jokes about their students doing so as well.

What makes this so obnoxious is how lazy the brand of comedy actually is. Once you get to college, one of the first question anyone will ever ask you is “what’s your major?” 

It almost becomes more important in icebreaker games than knowing what house the sorting hat from “Harry Potter” would put you in. So, everyone knows what your major is and can relatively assume from there some of strength, weakness, and potential interests. Then people lay in wait for the next time you take too long to do mental math, or you guess the date of some historical event wrong, and when that happens, your fair game. 

As a person who appreciates a sense of sarcasm and a good sense of humor, it is so boring for everyone to constantly be making jokes about the thing most obvious about a person. These jokes are made without much thought or creativity. You can just wait for an opportunity for someone to do something outside of content area, or not, then mention the most basic thing you know about that person and somehow expect it to be funny.

While I’m not the gatekeeper of what is and is not funny, basic jokes about peoples’ majors gets old after your first semester in college. Once you move past that stage, it’s time to step up the game a little bit and be more creative. 

Simply stating a fact about another person is boring and played out. You can make jokes about peoples’ majors, but maybe go a little deeper than just stating what it is and having everyone make the same assumptions about that person as you.