The Value Of An Arts Degree

0a4b333526f0496e4a13d5beb1738749.jpgThe reality is that before you pick a degree you need to really consider if it’s something you can imagine doing as a job. That seems quite obvious, but for myself it didn’t work out that way. I have previously studied music and in the end it wasn’t something I could imagine doing as a job. It’s a personal decision, but I learned a lot from the experience. I don’t regret taking a two year gap, because they gave me several internship, study, work and life experiences that I deeply needed in order to grow and become more mature. Over the last two years I feel like I’ve changed in many ways and learned many things about myself. Remember to always do what feels right in your heart.

A little while ago I wrote a rant about people who make fun of arts degrees. If someone asked me if the arts is a valuable area for a future career, I would answer “yes” without any hesitation. At first I thought of doing an English Literature degree, but the most common job is being a Teacher. As much as I’d prefer to study English, there are certain things I needed to consider. No matter how good we may be at a subject, we must evaluate if we would be good in a particular position. Personally, I know I would not be strict and outgoing enough to be a teacher. However, after doing some self discovery in the last few years, I will be doing Communication.

During that time, I feel I know more about what I am good at, what jobs I can see myself doing and what I need to learn more about. I feel that communications would benefit me personally and professionally. It includes digital media, journalism, marketing, writing and so on. The areas that I feel are beneficial for finding a job in the career options that I’m interested in. There is a misconception that arts degrees are useless, yet a huge amount of jobs require an arts degree. A point made in Murray State University is: It is important to note that almost everything we wear, sit on, look at, hear, and touch was created with input from creative professionals, a field to which artists belong and in which they engage with hearts, minds and hands. 

One thing is for sure. Not all of us will have one job for the rest of our life. If we are very lucky we may find a career that we will have for the rest of our lives. However, for most adults they may have had several different jobs throughout their life. It’s okay to take time to figure out what you feel will be an enjoyable and stable career. The arts allows one to form ideas, improve research skills, take criticism and most of all create. The truth is that most of us feel confused about what we may do in the future. I can’t count how many times I ask myself “What am I doing with my life?”, but I think we just have to go with it. Especially when we’re still young, it’s even more important to try different things, figure out what we like and don’t like before we need to make a settled decision.

There’s a interesting article on NZ Herald where Professor Richard Shaw, says “One of the things that increasingly aggravates me is that there’s a sense it’s a second class qualification or not demanding, and it’s only because it doesn’t sound like a profession in the way accounting or medicine does,” he said.  He also mentions that  “You can’t have a functioning, vibrant, democratic society without the kind of environment the BA provides.” One of the misconceptions is that the Arts do not have the stability that a Science, Engineering or Medicine degree may have. In Pacific Standard Magazine, Jacobs writes Disputing the “gloomy myths around the value of an arts degree,” the report finds overall job satisfaction for people who have graduated with an arts degree over the past five years is quite high, at 75 percent.

Regardless of what degree you will study, everyone will face different scenarios. Some people may smoothly find a great job after graduating, and some people may have a tougher time. It depends on how involved you are in, how much you’ve networked, how much your degree may correlate with a job position, how determined you are and what experience you had outside of university (eg. internship, volunteering). There are also jobs that require you to have some amount of experience for the position. I remember talking to students who graduated in music but ended up working in a cafe, tech store or retail because they didn’t have any work experience. I think one of the important things is to grow your CV as much as possible. Find opportunities for yourself and always be willing to learn.

Art by Yelena Bryksenkova 

6 thoughts on “The Value Of An Arts Degree

  1. Agreed. What you study is always a learning experience, and it is so true we won’t have won’t job for the rest of our lives. Even if we worked in the same field for all our lives, chances are we’d dip our toes into different roles at different levels. Not all the job opportunities we want we’ll come our way, and when we are faced with the need for survival we’d take any opportunity to come our way. I did an Arts degree and later a Masters in Arts as well, and though the degrees (my majors) don’t have much relevance to my day job, both degrees made me fall in love with writing all over again :)

  2. I love and agree with everything in this post! I can personally relate to this struggle of going with your inner passion and the influence of your external environment.
    I’m currently applying for university (after taking a gap/bridge year), and I’m actually hoping to double major (or major + minor) in Psychology + Communication/Media Studies (depending on the university I’m applying to).
    To be honest, I didn’t really give much thought about Communication (bad experience at a summer course), but this year has given me plenty of time to see what I SEE myself doing. Even though the content I learn in my undergrad studies may be drastically different in 5 years, I look forward to how these experiences will propel me towards a better ‘mindset’.
    I’m also really involved in the arts (I play the cello, I love literature) but I have never pursued them to the extent of seeing myself as an arts person. But it is through the arts that I learn to be creative and original, something that has been completely undermined in the school (currently) fixed system.
    I’m really excited to see what decision you ultimately make, and I hope you continue blogging about this major experience :)

    1. Thank you :) I’m glad you can relate, those are two great options. I can relate to that feeling, I don’t think two years ago I would of seen myself studying Communication, but after some experiences I realised that it’s a common education requirement for many jobs I was interested in. I absolutely agree, and I’m glad to hear you are very involved in arts :) I definitely will, and I look forward to hearing about your university journey too!
      P.S. I got accepted into Communication.

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