Making an Arts Degree UsefulBy Emily Lamb in HSC
6th of July 2018
Emily is a current Arts student and VCE tutor, and provides her thoughts on Arts degrees below.
If you’re looking for another perspective on a Bachelor of Arts, check out this guide.
“So you want to do an Arts degree? And major in what – never getting employed?”
Believe me, I’ve heard it all before. People can be very judgmental about Arts degrees! Yet, they fail to consider the factors that make a degree of this nature tremendously valuable. Here are some of the top reasons why an Arts degree would be useful for you – and how you can make it so once you’re there!
When an Arts Degree might be for you!
You don’t know what you want to do!
When some students graduate year 12, they may have achieved an excellent ATAR and know they want to pursue something academic, but have no idea what. It is in circumstances like this that an Arts degree is the way to go. You can explore several different subject areas, history, languages, music, creative writing and media (just to name a few!). You even have the opportunity to delve into science and law based subjects in your electives. In this sense, Arts degrees are, in essence, a door into university that allows you to step into a number of different degrees.
You THINK you know what you want to do – but you want to be sure!
The task of committing to an area of study that you have NEVER studied before straight out of High School is a BIG DEAL. You are pressured into making a titanic decision when you already have a million other things on your mind, between exams and graduations and 18th birthdays. The drop-out rates for Law, Medicine and other like undergraduate degrees are extremely high. Therefore, it is worth considering an Arts degree to explore a number of different areas to make sure that the professional qualification you are thinking of is definitely what you want. If you change your mind, nothing has been lost and you will have an additional degree up your sleeve, which is always positive. You will have gained a breadth of knowledge rather than chopping and changing degrees. I decided I wanted to be a lawyer when I was 16, after years of thinking about journalism. So far, my arts degree has allowed me to take subjects in both law and journalism, allowing me to compare the studies and sense where my passion truly lies.
Making the most of it once you’re there!
Of course, you are required to major in at least one area when you study Arts. You can direct your major to something that is in line with the professional qualification you want later, or simply toward your interests. However, you will have the chance to take many subjects outside of this major. Here is where you can delve into a few different subject areas. Want to be a writer but are a bit interested in economics? Well hey! Go ahead and take some economics subjects. Passionate about politics, but you totally loved year 12 Psychology and feel drawn to it? Well there you go! Don’t stay stuck taking safe subjects – feel free to experiment. If you REALLY hate it, you’re always able to withdraw without failing the subject. The point is, a large part of taking an Arts degree is using this time to find your passion, or test out multiple different areas at university level. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone.
Or… be focused!
This point is actually the opposite of the aforementioned one, but applies more so to those who are certain about what they want to study. An Arts degree can still be very useful for you! For example, if you are like I was and are still set on law after having taken a few subjects, you can use your arts degree to study law orientated subjects. Many arts subjects look at the philosophical, social aspects of law, offering a perspective that you wouldn’t gain from a law degree alone. You will also get the chance to complete law-type assignments, before you even start your law degree! As a wise man once told me – “Crawl before you walk, and walk before you run.” An arts degree will prepare you for studying something as intense as law, or whatever else it is that you wish to professionally specialise in.
At this point, you may be thinking “Well, this is all nice, however, it will be a lot of additional HECS debt with no practical benefit!.” This is untrue. We are living in a highly competitive world when it comes to employment. An arts degree on your resume demonstrates you are well rounded and dedicated! This WILL attract employers, no matter what anybody tries to tell you. An arts degree also has benefits as a stand-alone degree. One of my favourite English teachers was an arts graduate, as are secretaries, tutors and much more!
The takeaway point here is to go with your gut. An arts degree has enormous benefits if you are considering pursuing one, regardless of what point you are at in deciding what you wish to do.
Emily Lamb, VCE Tutor and BA student at The University of Melbourne (Politics and Criminology double major).