Because neither of my parents pursued post-secondary education, there was a lot of pressure on me to not only do well in school, but to pick a major that guaranteed financial success.
You can imagine my mother’s face when I told her I wanted to switch from my specialized major to English and history. It took some convincing on my part, and my Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays were set to a soundtrack of “English?! What are you going to do with that?!”
At first I didn’t know how to answer that question, but I knew I loved literature and history, and basically kept my fingers crossed that everything would work out for the best. Fast forward four years and here I am, ready to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts Combined Honours in English and History, and I couldn’t be more proud about it.
Earning a Bachelor of Arts is different from a lot of programs in the sense that there is no one career route after university. You can end up almost anywhere. Personally, my dream is to teach at an international school abroad. However, I could easily work for the government, non-profit organizations, publishing houses, advertising and marketing agencies, and a slew of other organizations because my skills are easily transferable.
This brings me to my first point: you will learn employable skills during your BA. What skills you may ask? You’re going to learn how to think critically, write critically, communicate effectively and concisely, research, influence or persuade others, and solve problems. The list goes on and on. People underestimate the importance of communication skills until they enter the workforce. Luckily for all the Carleton BA students out there, we have four years of practice under our belts from the get-go.
I picked English and history as my majors, but those majors may not be for everyone. My advice for anyone struggling to pick a major is: go with what you know and, more importantly, what you like.
The fact of the matter is we will all leave Carleton with the skills mentioned above. Your major is simply the medium through which you learn those skills, so it’s important that you pick something that will interest you and keep you engaged. Like I said, there is flexibility within a BA degree. Today I want to be a teacher, but maybe next week I’ll have a cosmic life shift and want to be a lawyer. That’s fine. Even though I majored in English and history, my LSAT score and law school application will be just as competitive as someone who majored in law because we have the same general skill set. I’m not a fan of clichés, but the saying is true: when you do what you love, everything will fall into place.
My university career was not set in stone from the beginning. I changed my major, I took two years off in between and basically took a gamble on the idea that I could turn what I love into a successful future. Now, here I am, about to graduate and become “a real adult.’’ Want to hear the best part?
I’m not afraid to take the next step! I am so excited because I know I have something to offer; I have the skills and confidence to go out in the world and know that I will be successful, and it’s all thanks to what I learned through my arts degree at Carleton.
Rachel Aquilina is a fourth-year Bachelor of Arts student with combined honours in English and history. She plans to graduate in the fall of 2016.
This article originally appeared in the Admissions Blogs.