Tori Fisher / Gavel Media

Is Your College Major Indicative of Your Intelligence?

Millennials are known for their commitment to themselves, specifically commitment to their occupation and “making something” out of themselves. With this care for oneself as a professional person we subject ourselves to competition and harsh judgment in our academic and extracurricular lives. As millennials we are taught to market ourselves and show exactly why we are the best.

At Boston College, some of the most determined, eager, and (let’s face it) type-A millennials come together, making for a particularly unforgiving environment. At BC, student-to-student judgment and competition are easily cultivated; we go to battle each day armed with our chosen academic majors, course loads, and the grade point averages we achieve to ultimately decide who is the most intelligent student of them all.

Two of our weapons are easily comparable to others of their kind; it is obvious that the higher GPA beats the lower and that the heavier course load is more impressive than the lighter. What is not so obvious is how different academic majors stack up against one another; is a degree in economics more extraordinary than one in French? One in psychology? This uncharted territory of major fields of study and how they may indicate a student’s intelligence sparks a debate in which sides are taken and judgments are made.

This debate has led way to people associating intelligence with some majors and ineptitude with others, and thus begs the question: Is a given student’s college major indicative of their intelligence?

Now, I raise this question and write this article neither to stomp on the infamously “intelligent” biology majors nor glorify the notoriously “lazy” communication majors. After all, I realize stereotypes exist for a reason, but also have the capacity to recognize that, while sometimes spot-on, stereotypes are often incomplete (Thank you, Appa.). What I mean by this is that majoring in a “smart” area of study does not verify someone as a genius, and vice-versa.

With this in mind, I’ll take it upon myself to lay out what I have gathered to be the unofficial hierarchy of majors, starting with the “smartest” and ending with the “dumbest.” It has come to my attention that the first “smart” major to come to anyone’s mind is biology, and with biology comes chemistry, and so at the top of the list are the natural sciences. Now, at BC, neck-and-neck with the natural sciences comes any concentration in the Carroll School of Management, where finance and accounting are highly acclaimed areas of study. From here, we enter a sort of gray area in which the international studies, English and theology majors reside in no particular order. From here, we can see how the well-known “joke-worthy” majors like communication, music and theater follow.  

While this conceptual reality is easy to grasp, I am having a hard time wrapping my head around why this is the case. Why do we disregard those willing and incredibly able to dedicate themselves to the arts while praising those who may possibly be interested in maybe becoming something reminiscent of a CEO one day? Personally, I don’t see how commitment to the arts or journalism is any less notable than commitment to running a company or practicing medicine.

When it comes down to it, commitment is commendable regardless of what you devote yourself to. Rather than judge people on their interests, we should be praising people according to their dedication to their chosen field of study.

Our current mentality finds a student slacking off in their physiology class excusable because at the end of the day, they’re still on the pre-med track, and everybody is in the mindset that pre-ed trumps all and equates to brilliance. Similarly, if a student graduates with degree in theater and a 4.0 GPA, it is obsolete--for what does acting or stage management matter next to something like medicine or accounting?

With this, it is clear that our typical reasoning is entirely contorted. We must keep in mind that, as the saying goes, you cannot have a million-dollar dream with a minimum-wage work ethic. A person’s seemingly impressive major and career aspirations are good for nothing without commitment. In other words, the mere title of your major will get you nowhere, but your hard work will.

If we have any hope of winning the intelligence war we started, we must simplify the battlefield. We must remove ourselves from the moral high ground on which we stand. We must stop hiding behind our college majors and make way for effort and success to decide who wins the so-called battle.

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