Each major choice is valuable in its own way

“To be, or not to be”— that is the question that inspired the title for an article published in the Old Gold and Black last week. This new question, however, asked whether “To Major … or Not to Major” in theatre at Wake Forest University.

Graphic by Ade Ilesanmi/Old Gold & Black

Graphic by Ade Ilesanmi/Old Gold & Black

While I was excited to see an article for which I was interviewed focusing on my primary major, I was disappointed with the lack of information stating why someone should major in theatre, or what my process was in deciding that “theatre” would be the word forever etched across the B.A. degree I will be receiving in May.

Instead, the article compared the size of the theatre major class of 2014 (at five, likely among the smallest of the 2014 undergraduate population) to that of the business school class of 2014 (likely among the largest), declared a “plummeting value” for a degree in theatre (without providing a reference for this statistic) and claimed that aspiring thespians wanting to go to college choose to attend NYU or Yale conservatories, the latter of which is a graduate school for training in all the realms of theatre. In this letter, I would like to fill in the holes that the previous article contained, and namely explain why “To Major … or not to Major,” should never be a question, if you know in your heart that your major will serve you mentally, academically, professionally and personally.

That is, fully.

In addition to the skills learned in all liberal arts majors, of learning how to write extensive research papers, deliver thorough oral presentations, and collaborate amongst fellows, my theatre major has taught me a number of unique and compelling skills I might not have learned otherwise. And I should hope so, considering a theatre major is the second-largest B.A. major in terms of total credit hours required for completion, at 36 — only second to computer science at 38 hours.

Professionally, I am equipped with so many abilities that will and already have stood out to employers. With my theatre major and work, I have learned intense attention to detail, great teamwork and project collaboration skill, an ability to roll-with-the-punches and get–the-job-done (“The show must go on!”), out-of-the-box thinking and an unabashed acceptance for who I am as a person. Finally, I have learned all of these skills while doing something I truly love and about which I am passionate. Trust me, if I was counting mold spores for extensive bacterial research or balancing spreadsheets and performing financial data analysis for 40+ hours a week, I might have a “more useful” on-paper major, but I would be a lot less happy, and ultimately way less useful in that field of study. Meanwhile, I have many friends who absolutely adore those fields, but would dread having to light design a musical or perform on stage in front of hundreds of people.

I feel that too often at Wake Forest students are condemned by fellow students for choosing a major that, on paper, does not seem as practical as another.

Practical, of course, seems to mean predictable. I understand loving a feeling of comfort by majoring in a field that provides great professional “degree value.” I do assume the “degree value” implied by a theatre major previously indicates monetary value, and nothing else.

Because, honestly, if we see “theatre,” “business and enterprise management,” “women and gender studies” or “religion” listed on a batch of student profiles, we all do inherently tend to slap dollar symbols on one of those over the others. We go to a school of hard workers, and no student should ever dismiss another for “having it easier,” or “not having a real major” or any number of other things I have heard floating through the ether.

We can no longer make assumptions about each other’s areas of study.

In my small theatre major class of 2014, I am surrounded by passionate students that will use their degree in theatre not just to pursue “Broadway,” which is what seems to be most people’s perceptions of theatre majors.

No, like most liberal arts majors, these people will use their unique talents and skills developed through the theatre department to pursue other talents as well, from technical design to production management and more.

The point here is this: “To Major … or Not to Major?” There should never be a question, if you know which choice will fulfill you most.

For, after all, it is “nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” than to “take arms against a sea of troubles, and, by opposing, end them.”

Granted, Hamlet was speaking of life and death, but the same holds true for me. I would rather major in something that means something to me, and throw all of my time and effort into it, even if some floating statistic seems to think the “value” or my degree is worth less than another, than settle for something that I find less fulfilling.


Respectfully yours,

Celia Quillian

Theatre and Communications

Class of 2014

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