What to Expect When You Study an Arts Degree

Thinking about doing an Arts degree? Here’s what you should know.

Arts (Image Source: Newcastle Hearld)
Arts (Image Source: Newcastle Hearld)

It’s a New Year, and with that comes a number of new decisions to be made. If you’ve recently come out of high school, or just finished a gap yea, and thinking about what the next step is, you’re probably making up your mind about university.

If you’re the creative/ artsy type, you might even be considering an Arts Degree. And while I will stand by that decision, here are a few things you ought to know before you do make up your mind.

You will be mocked. Constantly.

Unless you intend on spending your time with exclusively Arts majors around you (although even they are prone to the occasional self-deprecation), you are guaranteed ridicule over your ‘thoughtless decision’. A few questions you will most definitely be asked by family and peers include: “What job is that going to get you?” “Why did you pick that?” and “So you’ll be a teacher?”

You will also get jokes that imply 1. You will never have a real job and 2. That you will be working in fast food for the rest of your life. Be prepared for dumbfounded stares as well.

Your degree does not have a job lined up after it.

While the mockery is annoying, it is also somewhat true. There are many courses in business and science that usually guarantee work, either because they’re in high-demand, or because they supply grad programs for ex-students.

Due to the aforementioned belief that an arts degree is “useless”, no one, including the government, is going to help you out. So be prepared for volunteer work, internships and start-ups that can’t pay you. The best idea is to start early, so, if you can, try juggle an internship and your study at the same time to give you that extra boost.

Nothing is right. Nothing is wrong.

Art is completely subjective. And yes, this includes majors like politics and history. While theories and facts can be thrown at you during your course units, the largest sum of your work is going to be completely up to you. What you think, why you think it, and how you can prove it.

Most of the time, if you have enough evidence to back up your argument, you can’t be proven wrong. People can disagree, but you can’t be wrong. A good vocabulary, well rounded sentence structure and a whole wad of quotes and citations can pretty much get you through any thesis.

Because of this, an Arts degree is simultaneously the best and the worst thing to study. You can essentially bullshit your way through an essay, but you also need to possess the ability to bullshit.

You will meet some of the most interesting and, sometimes intimidating, individuals.

Not to assume you won’t meet interesting students in science or commerce, but you are bound to meet some really peculiar people in an Arts degree. These degrees are where creatives and heavily opinionated people flock to, so you are bound to find a few oddballs here and there. You are probably an oddball too.

While you may find some really great friends, you will also meet some people you can’t stand or that intimidate you. Be prepared for talkative mature-aged students, loud, quirky members of subcultures, and a whole lot of trendy hipsters.

So, if you’ve read through this and you still feel eager to start an Arts degree, then take the leap. While your debt may later sting you, it’ll be a truly memorable experience.