Top 5: Majors we most often misunderstand


Holly New

No. 5: Art

Art majors are constantly being told there’s no money in their field.

They are to live only as “starving artists,” forced to sacrifice a financially stable life in pursuit of their art. If that’s the case, why do students continually choose to study art?

A quick look at the Career Services website provided plenty of sample occupations for art majors, some I hadn’t even thought of.

Aside from making money on art alone, students can become teachers, museum curators, graphic designers and art therapists, among other careers. Art majors aren’t destined to a life of no money.

No. 4: Environmental Studies

How many of you didn’t know of NIU’s environmental studies major?

Yeah, me neither — and I’m disappointed I didn’t.

The environment is obviously important, and I’m glad we have a program dedicated to helping it, but what can you do with a degree in environmental studies?

These graduates can work for the Environmental Protection Agency, become park rangers or specialists in a variety of fields and even continue on to law school and work as environmental lawyers.

This major is a good example of how students should branch out and discover the majors NIU has to offer before discounting their options.

No. 3: Philosophy

I have a few philosophy classes under my belt, and I’ve wondered what they’ll do for me in the real world.

Philosophy classes teach you to think critically — after all, it takes a lot of work to read philosophers’ writings. Even being able to understand difficult text is a skill that can be useful in the job market.

Many philosophy majors go on to law school while others become teachers, work in management, human resources or other fields. Philosophy is one of those majors where the destination may not be clear, but the opportunities are endless.

No. 2: English

I remember a conversation I had with an English professor where she asked me what I wanted to do with my life. When I said writing, she chuckled and said, “No, for money.”

I know she was joking, but it raises a very real concern: What can I do with my English major? Writing is obviously an option, but a major in English is really a gateway major to the real world.

Having the skills to write accurately and concisely is extremely important in the professional workplace. English majors can go on not only to teach and write, but can also become editors, publishers, assistants and even go on to law school or other professional schools.

No. 1: Community Leadership & Civic Engagement

Along with environmental studies, CLCE is NIU’s newest major.

What’s great about this major is that it’s been coined the “make-a-difference” major because it’s meant for just that. The major focuses on how to get people involved in the world.

It provides students training for working with non-profit organizations and shows them how to get involved with advocacy, global engagement and other fields.

This major has a lot to offer, including prospects to work for non-profit organizations as a director or manager, grant writer, recruiter or even executive.

The long name shouldn’t deter any student from looking into a major truly full of opportunities.