I'm currently a junior Communication major. I'm concentrating in Journalism, and my minors are in Media and Theatre. If that doesn't say liberal arts, I couldn't tell you what does.
Living with 3.5 engineers (one is a computer science major), and being friends with plenty of accounting majors, we get a bad rap. Traditionally STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) majors are the ones that have to "work harder" during college, I'm here to tell you that we have some struggles too. (For ease, I'm also bundling Accountants in that category. Let's just call it STEAM.)
Here are some of the reasons why Communication, English, Political Science, Psychology, Criminal Justice, and other "arts and crafts" majors also have it hard.
You Have to Constantly Justify Your Major Decision
"Why did you decide to be an engineer?" "I hope you don't plan on making any money with that degree." "You don't even need a degree to be a Pharmacist." "Good luck paying off your loans with a Chemistry degree." "Are there even any jobs in Accounting?"
Nobody asks these questions. As a liberal arts major you have to constantly defend your dreams, goals, and career. Your parents, friends, supervisors, and even professors will pose these questions to you. You don't have an easy job lined up that pays you well for showing up, and every one will remind you of this.
You Can't Just Slide By
First I want to say all the STEAM majors I'm close with work their asses off. This isn't directed at them but:
You can sometimes take a half-hearted effort to success as a STEAM major. Get straight B's, do one internship your last semester of college. Guess what? You've probably just been offered a job making nearly $30 an hour where they will pay for relocation and grad school.
I've done three internships, I've been involved in almost every aspect of student life and student leadership my campus offers, and guess what? No matter what I do I'll be struggling to get by after I graduate. Nobody will offer a liberal arts major a job a year in advance before they graduate. I'm okay with that, I'm more than okay with that, but it doesn't make it easy.
You need to work twice as hard as a liberal arts major to be half as successful as a STEAM major. Part of the wonder is the thrill of the chase, ya know? That's not to say it's not stressful though.
Once upon a time I wrote an article about being grateful for unpaid Internships. Frankly, I still agree with nearly everything in that article.
At the same time, I've done three unpaid internships. I'm planning to do three to four more before I graduate. They've been life-changing experiences I wouldn't have changed for the world. At the same time, I've already spent over $1,500 on travel to these internships. This summer I'll be spending adding another $5,000 to that number for relocation and transportation. My friends in STEAM fields have been offered internships making more than $20 per hour, with included transportation, housing, a laptop, and company trips.
There's still a decent amount of work
We can spend a year debating which major does the most work, but that argument is essentially zilch for a few reasons:
1) Research papers, TV packages, speeches, hundreds of pages of readings. It may not be a group assignment, lab memo, or design project but it may be just as much work and take as many hours.
2) Your major hopefully aligns with your strengths. Just like you won't find me doing calculus, I'm not going to expect most engineers to be eager to do a three minute TV-package with VOs and SOTs. If we're pursuing a major for the right reasons, it should be something that isn't a constant struggle.
3) You chose your major.
Your Future is Uncertain
You can do everything right, and there still aren't any jobs open for you. Maybe you can't afford to take a job making $30,000 each year when your loans are more than triple that number. You may have to move halfway across the country to have a fighting shot at your major. While your friends are graduating with job offers and down payments, our hunt is just beginning. The jobs are scarce, and you don't apply until you're ready to start.
"Hard is Hard"
This is more of an afterthought, but it's an amazing video worth checking out about how there shouldn't be a qualifying 'harder than'. Hard is hard, and what's hard for one might not be for another. This is an elementary school-level concept, but one we lose sight of all too often.
STEAM majors keep the world turning. I'm not saying we don't need them or trying to bash them, but Hard is Hard. It's time that the world starts to appreciate the hard work and passion of those of us who have passions that we are working hard to pursue. If I'm a hardworking student, we all deserve the same respect/pity/gifs of cats.