Editorial: Can you put a price tag on your passion


Our majors shape most of our day-to-day experiences. They dictate the buildings we spend our time in, the professors we learn from and the people we surround ourselves with. They also become part of our identity.   

For many students at Lehigh, being associated with their major can be a sense of pride and it’s not uncommon to perceive people based on what they study. When someone tells us they major in CSB, biochemistry or mechanical engineering, we assume positive things about that person’s work ethic and plans for the future. 

But for other students, the skills and careers associated with their majors don’t always carry the same positive connotations. Associating too closely with our majors can lead to a distorted self-image.

And yes, we’re talking about journalism and communications majors, but we’re also talking about philosophy, sociology, music and history. We’re talking about any student who gets to go home and explain to their grandparents that they’re pursuing their passion in an arts major at a private college that costs $80,000 a year. 

But no, we’re not throwing ourselves a pity party or trying to make other students feel worse for pursuing very difficult majors. 

We are proud of the majors we’ve chosen, regardless of the public perception of them. But we cannot associate our identities with our majors in the same capacities. 

And there’s freedom in that. As long as we’re willing to recalibrate our view on what it is that makes a degree valuable and how we define our success. 

As journalism majors, many practicing journalists we hear from make the industry sound bleak, taxing and unrewarding. They talk about climbing the ladder in ways that seem undoable, rather than inspiring. These kinds of attitudes are only echoed by the constant articles about news publications laying off chunks of their staff.

Even our peers tell us how unrealistic it is to assume we’ll get a job in journalism right after graduation.

After a while, these sentiments make finding a fulfilling and financially satisfying job feel like a fever dream. But once you come to terms with the realities of your failing industry, the prospect of using your skills in another sector becomes less terrifying.

Having a degree in journalism doesn’t mean you have to be a journalist. Just like having a degree in English doesn’t mean you have to be a poet. Almost any major can yield a diverse array of professional paths, depending on how you sell yourself.

The skills you develop at Lehigh, regardless of major, assure you will be valuable to some organization.

Yes, the process for mechanical engineering majors to find companies that value their skill sets is probably going to be more straightforward than it would be for us, but that does not mean it is impossible to find companies that value us. We must change our outlook, explore the positions that do value our skills, and appreciate the freedom in not having a designated field of work to funnel into.

Besides, you’d get better pay and work better hours washing windows than you would in many journalism jobs, but we digress. 

The second thing you have to do is examine what about the Lehigh education you value the most. 

We attend one of the most prestigious schools in the country, and the opportunities that are provided to us are privileges. So we owe it to ourselves to pursue the things that we are most passionate about.

If the thing you are most passionate about is making money and clocking out after 5 p.m. there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. 

Still, not every college student has being rich some day at the top of their priority list when choosing a major. Many of us, members of the Editorial Board included, chose their majors based on an academic passion they’ll be happily working within in the future, no matter how small the paycheck.

We take pride in studying journalism and we value the prospect of bringing the skills we’ve learned as journalists to the industries (or coffee shops) we’ll end up working in. 

We are more than the industry-wide journalism layoffs and we will not let our view of ourselves and our futures be tarnished because they do not follow the same path or yield the same financial results as our peers.


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