Hello Paulina, I am sophomore in college and currently pursuing a very profitable degree (Computer Science). I am studying CS because everyone tells me to, but the truth is that I detest it. For the past year or so I have been reading and writing a lot. It is something that I like doing, but I am scared that it might be an infatuation for literature rather than a true passion. I am strongly considering changing my degree to English Literature. Any wise words? Is it a good degree?
Full disclosure: I’m myself a very lucky idiot whose parents have been generally supportive of my financially unsound ambitions, as long as I was willing to put in the work. I’m not sure my words and choices are considered wise.
I can’t tell you what to do, and I can’t tell you how you’re supposed to know the difference between lifetime passion, infatuation, or something in-between—something that’s not necessarily all-consuming, but will make you happy, challenged, satisfied, and meet your own expectations for yourself.
What I can tell you, though, is that studying or working long-term with something you detest is never a good, sustainable idea—or am I too idealistic?
As for literature being a good degree, it depends on a whole lot of things. It depends on whether you’re willing to work seriously at it—if you’re ready to “take” as much as you can from it, and what you want to do it with it. Will a literature degree help you achieve your goals? What kind of job are you looking for, and is literature a good pathway towards it?
Again, I’m not the best to advise you on this, but if you’re at the point in your life where you’re thinking about careers—about what you want to do after—, I’d say that there are other questions to answer to before diving into a literature degree. What do you see yourself becoming? What kind of job would make you happy, or happier, on a day-to-day basis? What do you need to feel comfortable and secure in your life—financial stability? A home-based work, a dynamic office-life? Prestige, or solitude, or team-work? Responsibilities, or detail-oriented tasks? Intellectual challenges, or low-stake activities that will allow for peaceful work-life balance? What are your motivations, what are your deal-breakers, where can you compromise? These are things you might want to look into before your reorientation. A degree for the sake of learning is great, don’t get me wrong, but I’m guessing we’re talking about a degree that’s a mean to an end here—the right tool to land the job you want down the line (more so in elitists environments where diplomas are necessary to prove your pseudo worth), rather than the end of said line?
When you’re clearer about what you want to do, then look into what kind of degrees can help you get there. Literature might be one of them. There are a lot of skills to be gained there—a lot of processes to be learned. I personally think it’s wonderful, but… I’m not very objective, am I?
One last thing. Two last things, actually. First, choosing now doesn’t mean you’re locked in place—you never are. Doors close and others open, and you can follow different paths and still do good, so don’t feel trapped, whatever you decide. And finally, a degree isn’t everything and you can learn and challenge yourself and find satisfaction outside of the common educational channels; they’re helpful, but only as long as they’re not stifling you.
Good luck! Sorry for rambling!