Life Of An Arts Student: The Stigma and Worries

I was an anxious mess on Results Day. I could barely believe it when I looked on UCAS Track and realised I had been accepted at the University of Nottingham to study English and Philosophy.

When I shared my excitement with others however, not everyone was pleased for me. People were asking where that degree will get me, and that I should do a ‘proper degree’ like medicine. An actual quote from my Grandad was, ‘where will you get with Philosophy? A job in Waitrose?’ Thanks for the support! I just want to study what I enjoy, I can’t force myself to be interested in the sciences (or anywhere near good enough to study them). Not everyone can be doctors or architects!

“I literally signed up to learn about such deep and mind boggling topics”

One view about Arts degrees is that they are so easy. I’m not sure why people think that! I am only in the first semester of my first year, and I am already finding some parts of the course hard, though it is fascinating. We have discussions about whether someone can be a person and not be a person at the same time, and sometimes I have no idea what is going on. But it is philosophy, what did I expect?

I literally signed up to learn about such deep and mind boggling topics. Everyone else seems to know what they are doing and making good points in seminars, and sometimes I feel so clueless. I am dreading studying logic next semester, my older brother, who also studied Philosophy, told me it is similar to Maths. I always hated Maths – there is a reason I am doing an Arts degree!

It’s not all bad though. I have always had a strong interest in Ethics so that module is great, and the issues we discuss actually do apply to real life situations, like how much money we should donate to charity. As someone who has constantly been told I am very opinionated, I always have something to say in those classes.

“After all, university is about stepping out of your comfort zone”

The more respected part of my course is sometimes the less enjoyable. English includes a drama module in which we have to direct an extract from a play in groups. I just want to read plays and write about them, not direct them! Yet it turned out to be fun in the end, and after all, university is about stepping out of your comfort zone.

The stereotypes are not all wrong though – I honestly have no clue what I want to do after university, and a lot of people on my course are in the same position. Luckily we have three years to decide. We may end up doing something we have never even previously considered.

Emily Patel

Image credit: cloud2013 via Flickr

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