Arts degrees get a bad rep. That’s just a fact. If you say you want to study Arts, or are currently studying it, or have graduated from an Arts degree, you will inevitably be met with a sly smile/a laugh/a shake of the head from your boyfriend/girlfriend/parents/siblings/grandmother/employer/bartender.
I’m stepping up to bat for the other side. The side that tells you that no matter what you hear or read, an Arts degree is one of the most valuable ways to spend three years. I’m going to break this down into three parts, because one thing my Arts degree taught me was how to make a very sophisticated, well sign-posted argument.
People generally do an Arts degree for one of two reasons: they aren’t entirely sure what they want to do with their lives, or they’re doing the Melbourne Model with the aim to get to a certain postgraduate position. Either way, I’ve found that the subjects that you can do during an Arts degree are some of the most mind-broadening, fascinating subjects that you will ever undertake.
The benefit of the subjects in an Arts degree is that nearly every single one that you pick, you WANT to do! None of these compulsory law/journalism/teaching that you’re made to do to complete the degree. You get to choose your majors, choose your minors, choose the subjects that you’re going to do within them.
And the CHOICES! You can take subjects in criminology, in history, in politics, you can take breadth subjects in science, maths, law… the list is endless. I learnt some of the most fascinating things I have ever learnt throughout my Arts degree. And it’s not gearing you towards a specific, pigeon-holed career. Its sole purpose is for you to learn. To open your mind, to argue your point of view, to develop opinions and become a better citizen of the world.
Side note: if you’re interested in doing Arts at Melbourne, consider taking Political Economy. Best subject I did through my degree.
Hands down, the friends I made during the three years of Arts are the best I have ever made, and the ones I know I’m going to keep for the rest of my life. You will meet people in exactly the same boat as you – just finished high school, possibly unclear about their career path, but with a desire to keep learning, and to figure out their passions.
Developing your passions and your interests alongside a group of like-minded people bonds you in a very special way. Not to mention, the Arts student societies at any university are always the best… and they throw the best parties.
Within my Arts degree, I got the chance to study overseas, which is a lot easier to do in a broad degree such as Arts, where there is a much wider range of subjects that you can gain credit for. This was one of the most life-changing experiences I have had, and I urge anyone with the chance to study abroad, to do it. (But that’s a topic for a different article. Literally. I’m writing one – that’s how amazing the experience was!)
But when I talk about life experience in relation to the Arts degree, I’m not just talking about the study abroad experience. An Arts degree is a very special kind of qualification. It doesn’t teach you how to be a journalist, or a scientist, or a lawyer. But what it does do, is teach you how to be part of an increasingly globalised world, and how to be a USEFUL part of that increasingly globalised world.
An Arts degree teaches you how to develop well-researched and correctly founded opinions. Then it teaches you how to argue for them, how to reason, how to inspire others to form well-researched and correctly founded opinions. Above all else, undertaking an Arts degree, with its breadth of choice and its passionate students and professors, will spark within you a fire to learn, to reach out and grab hold of the world and everything that it has to offer.
Woah. That just got super sappy super fast. I sound like a Hallmark card.
But honestly, I cannot argue for an Arts degree enough. It may not have made me employable, but I learnt more about myself than I ever thought possible. I was taught how to think, how to argue, how to write, and have had ignited within me a fire for knowledge that will last the rest of my life. And I did it all amongst the best group of people I ever met. So trust me, anyone who tells you an Arts degree is useless? They’ve never done one.