Major Stereotypes on Campus
The most intrusive aspect of majoring in theology on my social life is not the workload, nor is it the constant pervasive feeling that everyone is watching you and nitpicking your mistakes, though those certainly do weigh in on my mental health. Instead, it is the constant need to clarify to everyone that I am not trying to “wife up” every girl I talk to. It helps to remind people I intend to practice medicine, not pastoral ministry. I fully respect pastors; I believe it to be the noblest profession outside of medicine. I sense the sigh of relief as she realizes that no, contrary to popular belief, I am not only interested in ornamenting her ring finger. Of course, as a rule, most theology majors must get married earlier than they might wish since conferences hardly hire unmarried pastors. And just think about the awkward consequences which arise when a pastor dates and breaks up with one of his parishioners!
I make light of the situation, but every major has its own stereotypes and each is based on some truth. The inverse of the theology major is the one concentrating in pre-medicine. They have the perception that any relationship would have to wait consummation until after medical school. Besides, who has the time for a relationship when you have to go see your Honors advisor and discuss your research while mentally retracing the Krebs cycle for your Biochemistry test in six days, 13 hours, 42 minutes and five seconds, all the while eating your breakfast burrito for dinner because you did not have time in between classes, studying and your bi-daily jogs to grab anything more than a now-cold snack? Pre-meds are a bunch of overstressed, cliquey intellectuals whose native language is an indecipherable dialect of Latin-English, who, when you ask them how their week has gone, complain about Biology, Organic Chemistry or MCAT prep, depending on the year. Anyone who wants to be a doctor has to understand that medicine requires mature, diligent, focused and motivated individuals—because human lives soon take priority over grades.
The science complex might be viciously competitive, says the pre-med student, but at least we make a difference, unlike those at Chan Shun. Business is the major for partiers, “scholar”-athletes and the lazy. Management students especially have too much time on their hands. Never mind that the Steve Jobs alone sells the Steve Wozniak’s products, making his innovation and time worthwhile. After all, time is money. Free time is the product of specialization, and if were not for the businessmen and women of the world and the profits their visions generate, no one could afford to spend countless hours researching and developing (more often than not finding nothing).
Imagine the struggle of the photography major who has not accepted the popular blind lie that passion produces profit, but who has actually researched and looked into his future career and yet only hears disinterest and scorn. Capturing the beauty of life’s fleeting moments, marrying the one, scoring the game-winning point or your first goal and celebrating another year of life with dear friends and family is the self-sacrificial mission of the photographer—self-sacrificial because he himself cannot live in the moment. He invests his own precious moments so that you might treasure your own. But this often goes unnoticed and unappreciated because of art’s “impracticality.” In the Adventist world, only certain careers receive approval. For more on this, see Samuel Fry’s article in the Student Movement issue of 13 Sept. 2017.
At various points in my life I have wanted to be all of these: a businessman, a pastor, a doctor, a researcher, a photographer. I have noted the dreadful and laughable flaws and the admirable merits of each profession. Stereotypes are hit-and-miss. They may start off as harmless jokes based in truth: the “ring before spring” theology major might not appreciate the marital jest on his behalf, but he is asked to live up to a different standard and he must be willing to accept that. The business major may have too much time on her hands, but I firmly believe that it is out of the expectation that she will not only learn but also apply her leadership lessons and strive to change and better her community. More often than not, stereotypes become avenues to pride.
I am not attempting to discredit anyone’s major. Rather, I find issue in the tendency to clique ourselves within the mentalities and aspirations of our departments. My religion professors sometimes quietly scoff at the “selfishness” of religion and theology majors in pre-professional programs (such as myself) as if they are taking from the Religion and Biblical Languages Department, taking from the spiritual wealth of Andrews University but leaving the Adventist Church high and dry—we are wasted investments. The humanities, the arts, the behavioral sciences, and business often get this spiel. The argument goes that if you can learn it on your own time or if it requires no concrete skills, you do not need to go to school for it. But the purpose of education is to train minds to analyze critically and validate or reject new ideas. Though technology may offer the most material benefits, the social consequences of degrading these careers are as light as lowered self-esteem and as great as perpetuating prejudice.