Carolyn Hax

Carolyn Hax: She’s proud of her liberal arts degree

 

Dear Carolyn: I see that you have a liberal arts degree. I just earned my BA in English literature and I am proud of it. You would not believe the people who say, “What are you going to do with that?” Or, “You won’t get a job with that.”

I have a very long explanation of why liberal arts degrees are still relevant, but their remarks seem to call for a shorter response than a dissertation. How can I respond without being rude, perhaps even illuminating them in a concise way?

It doesn’t help that I haven’t actually figured out what direction I want to go in professionally, but I do know my degree has made me a more critical thinker and a better writer, and I am glad I did something I loved.

Proud

All of which is wonderful, and none of which your questioners give a (poop) about, since they’re mostly invested in confirming their own biases.

So, just tell them this: The moment you actually get a job, you’ll let them know how wrong they are. Illuminate them in a concise way that not all liberal arts majors take themselves too seriously.

Re: Liberal arts degrees:

I am surprised you didn’t mention your all-purpose “Wow.” People who say things like “You will never get a job” are rude. Just reply neutrally with a “Maybe” or “OK” or “If you say so.” Be a smart-aleck punk like my brother, smack your head dramatically, and say, “Oh no! I did college all wrong! Now I will live off the taxpayers FOREVER!” (He majored in philosophy, and has been employed for 12-plus years, gainfully enough to keep him and his family living comfortably.

Anonymous

“Wow” is for ugly things, not stupid ones. Stupid just gets the “OK, whatever you say” treatment, in whatever form amuses the person delivering it.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com.

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