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What will I do with an arts degee?

A photo of colakid123 colakid123
Okay, so I've always wanted to study arts with the goal of being a journalist, but with the actual decision coming, I feel like it's indulgent.

So will it be passion or pragmatics? Anyone know anything I can do with just a BA? I am 100% going to grad school of some kind, but the idea that I need grad school just to get basic employment is off-putting. So, besides journalism, academia, teaching, law and business-related professional programs, is there anything else I can do with an arts degree?

Accepted to: McGill Desautels, McGill Arts, U of T (Trinity) Social Sciences, Queen's Arts, Carleton Journalism

So, my mom's "encouraging" me to try business and see if I like it. Anyone who is in or has been in a similar situation? Advice?
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A photo of Anonymous Anonymous
The age-old question.
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A photo of theboydetective theboydetective
Seems like you covered most of the things you can do. If you take the right science courses, you can still potentially get into medical school with a BA, as well. In terms of teaching with just a BA, there are some teaching jobs abroad you can do with no grad work necessary (though mostly teaching English). You can travel the world and work service jobs and the like, not necessarily utilizing what you learned but rather using you degree more just as job assurance (you're far more likely to get hired with a bachelor's degree, obviously). You can get into politics. You can be a writer (freelance, author, technical, etc.) You can get into advertising (eg. copywriting, which also relates back to writing), film, television and broadcasting, publishing...
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A photo of colakid123 colakid123
I know I can do all of those things, but how likely am I to get a job in any of these? Law, teaching and journalism are in decline, and with all these people getting grad degrees because an undergrad isn't enough, won't academia be saturated too. Sorry for being pessimistic. Is anyone with a 95+ average going into arts, and if so, how do you feel about the fact that you could be "doing better"?
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A photo of theboydetective theboydetective

@colakid123 wrote
I know I can do all of those things, but how likely am I to get a job in any of these? Law, teaching and journalism are in decline, and with all these people getting grad degrees because an undergrad isn't enough, won't academia be saturated too. Sorry for being pessimistic. Is anyone with a 95+ average going into arts, and if so, how do you feel about the fact that you could be "doing better"?


Academia and journalism are definitely in decline, but law and teaching? How can teaching be in decline?
I've just figured there has to be some change, maybe even revolutionary, if tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people (in Canada) with post-secondary education in the arts are "only qualified to work at Starbucks".
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A photo of g93 g93

@theboydetective wrote

@colakid123 wrote
I know I can do all of those things, but how likely am I to get a job in any of these? Law, teaching and journalism are in decline, and with all these people getting grad degrees because an undergrad isn't enough, won't academia be saturated too. Sorry for being pessimistic. Is anyone with a 95+ average going into arts, and if so, how do you feel about the fact that you could be "doing better"?


Academia and journalism are definitely in decline, but law and teaching? How can teaching be in decline?
I've just figured there has to be some change, maybe even revolutionary, if tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people (in Canada) with post-secondary education in the arts are "only qualified to work at Starbucks".


There is a massive traffic-jam of people all trying to become teachers. It is very hard to get in. I know of someone who has gone through teacher's college and has taught in Hong Kong for six months, Rio de Janeiro for a year and a half, and Guatemala City for three years and they still can barely even get supply work.
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A photo of Rourachnitchai Rourachnitchai
After a BA there are various professional degrees (including but not limited to law and medicine) available to you. One that I was looking at the was the MA in public policy or a MA in human resources/ industrial relations which might be good for work in the civil service. There are also programs of study in academic theory and administration along with library science which might be of interest to those who would like to work for a school board but who do not want to teach. I'd also like to remind you that there are post-graduate degree combinations like the JD/MBA program at U of T which would probably prepare you quite nicely for a successful career in corporate law.
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A photo of Luna Luna
I have above a 95 average in my grade 12 courses right now and I'm going to Queen's next year for Arts. Last semester I took data management and biology and I did well in both, but my real passion is for languages and history, so most of the courses I'm taking this year are in the humanities. Sometimes I feel like I should be going into science, simply because of the job factor, and the fact that I have the marks to get into a good science program if I wanted to.

I do have a plan though. I want to become a speech pathologist, so I am going to study linguistics and psychology for my Bachelor's degree, then apply to a Master's program in speech pathology.
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A photo of kraken kraken
Janitor > McD's any day!
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A photo of Anonymous Anonymous
You can flip burgers and clean toilets, whereas I'll be an engineer designing, building, and researching. I'm switching from science into engineering, and I suggest you consider business, or psychology/social work, for better job prospects.
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A photo of Anonymous Anonymous
Ya, colakid 123, I'm in the same boat.
I have the same choices (plus a few lower grade schools) but am constantly questioning myself. There are jobs (polysci, writing) but the payscale compared to other potential careers is disheartening. They're so much more concrete. But I think, if you really like your course you wanna take, you're really good at it, its inevitable that you'll try hard and succeed. It's just a little leap of faith. Which sucks.
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A photo of Anonymous Anonymous

@lashes wrote

@TheMetroidPhysicist wrote
You can flip burgers and clean toilets, whereas I'll be an engineer designing, building, and researching burger flipping machines and toilet cleaners. I'm switching from science into engineering, and I suggest you consider business, or psychology/social work, for better job prospects.



There. Fixed.


Is that a compliment or a put-down?
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A photo of Jesseyeahh Jesseyeahh

@lashes wrote

@TheMetroidPhysicist wrote
You can flip burgers and clean toilets, whereas I'll be an engineer designing, building, and researching burger flipping machines and toilet cleaners. I'm switching from science into engineering, and I suggest you consider business, or psychology/social work, for better job prospects.



There. Fixed.



hahahahahahahaha
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A photo of Keja Keja

@TheMetroidPhysicist wrote
You can flip burgers and clean toilets, whereas I'll be an engineer designing, building, and researching. I'm switching from science into engineering, and I suggest you consider business, or psychology/social work, for better job prospects.



With that attitude you won't become close to becoming an engineer.
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A photo of colakid123 colakid123
Thanks for the support guys! As for MetroidPhysicist, why are you starting in science and transferring to engineering? Before I assume anything insulting...

I think my mom has successfully guilted me out of McGill Arts, so I either go to business there or go somewhere else. I can always transfer I guess...need to stop being so neurotic.
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A photo of juicyjuicy juicyjuicy
Why are people always looking down upon Arts students?
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A photo of Anonymous Anonymous

@colakid123 wrote
Thanks for the support guys! As for MetroidPhysicist, why are you starting in science and transferring to engineering? Before I assume anything insulting...

I think my mom has successfully guilted me out of McGill Arts, so I either go to business there or go somewhere else. I can always transfer I guess...need to stop being so neurotic.


I apologize if I've been like that. I was just going for some LOLs. To be honest, I actually highly respect arts students, as there are many of them in my family. I could never put up with all that reading and writing. If you really like your work, you can find tons of job opportunities, but you just have to look! All Ontario universities are good for arts and humanities. Do not underestimate Trent. I've known of very good handful of people who graduated with arts degrees or business, and all have very fine jobs. In the end, whatever school you pick, you can make it work for you. There is no such thing as a bad choice. Make use of what the school has to offer, and you'll be well on your way. You can go into teaching, social work, psychology, etc. If you really like your work, you will be successful.

As for me, I'm going into engineering because I feel like I'd thrive there more and enjoy it better than science (although science is really good, too if you are interested in research or medicine). You may find yourself that you really like a certain course, change your major, and excell in that area.

Good luck with the decision!
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A photo of emmmh emmmh
As a grad student in the humanities, here is my advice:

Take your time. Figure it out. Academia IS completely oversaturated. There are no jobs for PhDs, the system is a heartbreaking joke. Journalism is in bad shape, teachers are in bad shape, law is probably the strongest option there for arts-stream professions. To get a job relating to psych you usually need grad school, which is incredibly competitive for that field. Political science is one of THE most difficult fields these days especially in academia. Most jobs in professional writing involve either writing grant applications, technical writing, or freelancing/journalism. If you want to pursue the latter, start early, work your butt off, and be prepared to work part-time elsewhere to make ends meet. There are jobs available in social work but you often have a thankless, stressful job with messed up hours.

The only people I know out of teachers college who got jobs were males willing to work in rural communities, people with connections, and people willing to teach French. This isn't a rule, but that's been the sad reality of my friends' experiences. Other than that, one of my friends in marketing got a great job (but she's been building her resume since high school), a few are kicking ass as nurses, and one did post-grad Human Resources training and should have a job lined up in the fall.

Everyone else I know that's happily employed is in an industry of some sort: shipping/receiving, nuclear energy, engineering, mechanics, etc. As for business: some of my friends are happy with it, some entered and left it to travel and soul-search. Some friends are finding success with careers in music and freelance photography.

If you pursue the arts route try and get meaningful volunteer work. The only way to guarantee yourself a job these days is to network, know the right people, or be bold enough to forge your own path.

I wouldn't put a price on my arts education. I've loved every second of it and I think in a just society it would be properly valued. But the reality is times are tough and jobs are scarce. I'm 75% sure neither my BA nor my MA will land me a "career"-- although they might land me some temporary jobs-- even though I graduated at the top of my class and am now doing very well in grad school. The thing is, I've been pretty aware of "the job problem" all throughout university, although I thought I had a better shot at becoming a prof.

I would recommend to anyone struggling to find a path to follow the Europeans/Brits and take a year off between high school and university. Work a little, shadow as many people you know with jobs that seem interesting. Relax, figure out what you like. Do not rush into an arts degree, especially if it will cause you to go into debt. If I were to do it all again, I would go into Landscape Design and Architecture. Very, very solid job prospects and a fascinating field. OR I would work, travel, skip school altogether and become a custom bicycle builder/mechanic. OR I would go to a technical school to learn to make films.
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A photo of colakid123 colakid123
Thanks for the honesty emmmh. I think at this point I will try business, and if it doesn't work, do some soul-searching. MetroidPhysicist, I don't take it personally, and honestly, I wish I was just content with sciences so I could go into them. You are who you are, I guess.
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A photo of heesoup heesoup
Grad school.
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A photo of colakid123 colakid123
Grad school is fine and all, and I will definitely do it. BUT I don't think the answer to unemployment in a field is to throw more money and time at it and then hope it works out. It's like the US with the war in Iraq: clearly things aren't working, so instead of fixing your problem or looking at other avenues, just keep throwing money and effort and pray.
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A photo of Kyhaara Kyhaara

@colakid123 wrote
I know I can do all of those things, but how likely am I to get a job in any of these? Law, teaching and journalism are in decline, and with all these people getting grad degrees because an undergrad isn't enough, won't academia be saturated too. Sorry for being pessimistic. Is anyone with a 95+ average going into arts, and if so, how do you feel about the fact that you could be "doing better"?



I constantly ask myself that question, but then I think to myself, "Do I really want to be doing math, science, engineering (insert "brainy" subject here) for the rest of my life when I dislike it?"

I'm a 95%+ student. I'm going into the arts because that's where my passion is. I'm not concerned with money, because I would rather be in a career I love than make more money in a career I hate. If you love something, it isn't as much work as another activity that you actually get paid to do! (Like my part-time job, which isn't at McDonald's or any fast-food chain!)

My mom's in full support; my dad's a bit disappointed, obviously. He wanted me to be a lawyer/doctor/engineer/ceo (you get the idea here). But I'm all for the "Follow your heart" motto. I'm going to something related to my interests: I love books, I love to write, I love literature, and I love organizing things. I also love the French language.

I hate science (but was good at it), and I'm not that interested in math (but I did fantastic in my math classes).

Hope this helps.
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