Ireland has a culture that blames Arts students for just about everything. Whether it is for protesting or excessive drinking, students get blamed. Apparently we have nothing better to be doing but complain and drink. In fact we have plenty to be doing!
There are many students that cause trouble and waste time, but there are hundreds upon thousands that do as much as they can to prove that they are not the stereotypical Irish student. When in secondary school, if you said you were going to do Arts in NUIG, everyone would say “You’re going to really enjoy college so”.
When I tell people that I study Arts they sometimes say, “You must only have 6 hours a week?” No. That is so wrong. I actually have 16 hours a week with one or two very heavy assignments due every Friday. My average assignment is 1500 words and usually worth a big chunk of my grade.
Arts students even get looked down on during nights out. One night last semester, my friend was chatting to a lad from UL in Angel Lane. He said he studied engineering and so she asked him loads of questions about his course. In turn, he asked her how teaching was going. He assumed that she was doing the Bachelor of Education course as she said she went to Mary Immaculate. When she told him she was actually doing Arts he immediately walked away as if she had a contagious disease!
In Mary I, I see people who are going to potentially become primary school teachers and I honestly worry for my future children’s education. Some of them are crazy party animals, drinkers and messers. What annoys me is that you often see people who got 5 points below the requirement for teaching in the Leaving Certificate ending up doing Arts. Some of these people are born to be primary school teachers. Ideally there should be an interview process as well as the CAO system for teaching courses. If this was the case, there would be a massive influx of people in Arts and a reduction of terrible primary teachers in this country. An increase in the number of Arts students might even take away the harmful stigma from the course!
What people do not realise about Arts is the absolute range of careers one can avail from the course. For example, I study English and Media & Communication Studies with Information Technology. I can become a secondary school teacher, English lecturer, journalist, editor, radio presenter, producer, director, film editor, script writer, IT technician and so much more. I have choices. An engineer can be an engineer. A primary school teacher can be a teacher.
In 10 years, my friends doing B.Ed. will be in primary schools teaching. They may have families. Some will be very happy, others may not be. In 10 years’ time, I may be the CEO of RTE or a lecturer in DCU or radio producer on the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge. I may be happy. I may not be. I can be anywhere in 10 years.
Arts is the course you choose when you don’t know what you want to do. So what? It is great that there is a course out there for people who are not too sure what to do. Choosing what you want to do for the rest of your life when you are a 16 or 17 year old is an awful lot of pressure. Who knows what they are going to be doing 10, 20, 30 years from now? It is impossible to say!
Isn't it great that someone who is feeling at a loss about what to study has the option of choosing a variety of Arts subjects rather than having to picking one specific course, i.e. nursing or teaching, just because they felt pressured into doing so? What if they end up absolutely hating their job and only have one skill under their belt? Not so good! People who do Arts just for the sake of doing something in university, because they feel peer pressure to do so, end up wasting their time. A lot of people do not realise how much work an Arts course can require. A lot of people don’t study. A lot of people party, and drink, and forget to hand in assignments and end up failing.
Juxtaposed to this, there are a lot of people who like to drink and party but hand in their assignments on time, even if it is 4.59pm and it’s due at 5! People who go into Arts with their eyes wide open can learn to balance the social life with the college work. I sure do.
I still manage to go out Tuesdays and Thursdays most weeks with the occasional Monday and still get my assignments handed in on time. It’s is all about what the student puts in. Have you signed up to the college Quidditch team? Do you volunteer on the radio? Are you going to Zumba? Did you audition for the musical? Will you be watching MIC vs UL in the hurling? Do you take part? Do you take full advantage of what you are getting offered?
These are the things that help students achieve the perfect college life. Balance. Balance your academics with your alcohol. Balance your aerobics class with your Aristotle essay. It can all happen. It can be easy, no matter what course. Every single course has its own challenges and difficulties. Every course has its criticisms. Some more than others.
We are all students. We are all learning. We should learn to accept. Accept one another. Accept their course. Accept their chosen career path. Do not judge Arts students without hearing their 10 year plan!