It’s an ongoing joke in my family that my degree will result in making me the highest qualified waitress at Kelsey’s.
Most of the time, I find this joke funny (mainly because I would be the worst waitress ever, I have horrible hand eye coordination which means I would be dropping plates left, right, and center.) In fact my Twitter bio states that I am “Currently learning how to be a Starbucks barista with the qualifications of a Drama and French teacher.” (Fun Fact: This is also included in my Tinder bio and guys have told me I’m really funny. This may just be a pick up line but I’ll take the compliment.)
I am a big fan of self-deprecating humour and I am very willing to admit that at first glance my degree sounds pretty useless. Which is why I feel a pit in my stomach whenever somebody asks me what I’m studying. I will quickly answer: “I’m a Drama Studies major with a French Studies minor… but I’m also in the Concurrent Education program which means I could be a teacher.” (I hold on the ConEd part of my degree for dear life as I feel that it the only part of my program that sounds somewhat beneficial to the adult world.)
Now typically, when I talk about my program people are very nice. They will smile and say something along the lines of “Oh, very cool. Good for you!” and then go on with the conversation knowing that they contributed to their personal daily small talk quota. However, every once in while, I will come across an estranged relative, or a dental hygienist, or an Uber driver (it’s ALWAYS an Uber driver) who will shoot me a very condescending look and ask: “Well, what are you going to do with that?”
Flustered, I will normally scramble to say something along the lines of “Uh, well you know, there is teaching. I mean um I’m learning to be a teacher so I guess I could teach…” Although the accuser will normally follow this comment with some statistic to reinforce the fact that there are no teaching jobs available in all of Canada except for in a remote town in northern Saskatchewan with one traffic light and no WIFI and furthermore they probably won’t hire me anyway because they are only looking for math teachers.
I try to get out of these situations by smiling and saying something like “Well, I’m gonna keep my fingers crossed” or “Oh yeah the job market is tough, darn you baby boomers!” but what I would really like to say is “Mind your own friggin’ business!” because the fact of the matter is I can do a lot with my degree even if that “a lot” doesn’t seem directly related to my program.
In order to demonstrate this I figured I would go through a few of my previous courses and let you know what I’ve learned so far.
My overview: At an intro level this course explores western theatre history in order to demonstrate how art mirrors the ideologies of the society in which it was created. It also teaches students how to symbiotically analyze a play/playtext in order to understand the director/playwright’s vision and message.
Biggest takeaway: By exploring the cultural and historical elements surrounding a work of art you can understand what ideas/feelings that piece is trying to evoke. From there you can decide if the choices benefit the piece or are complete BS.
Unconventional use: Marketing – When you have a product/idea you are looking to sell you must first understand what kind of message you want to portray to your customers. By using the right “signs” to create the perfect vision of your product you will be able to “manipulate” your audience to see your point of view. Now I am not saying that this course is going to set you up to be the head of advertisement for some huge multimillion-dollar company (although there is nothing stopping you); it will however give you an understanding of how actions, words, and visuals affect our perception (a great skill to have once you join the workforce.)
My overview: Performance I explores how to use your body and voice as tools to help tell a story. Performance II expanses on these skills while focusing on specific acting techniques throughout the ages.
Biggest takeaway: Your body, mind, and voice are all connected. In order to effectively use one part the others must be just as engaged. A focused and open mind is a mandatory element in order to have a strong performance (also mandatory to succeed in basically every other aspect of life.)
Unconventional use: Therapy – Every time I walked out of my Performance class I felt calmer, happier, and more productive. Partly because I love performing a whole ton but also because you spend a good half hour to 45 minutes each week stretching, mediating, and yawning (and yes you get marked on this – BEST CLASS EVER.) Performing can be extremely therapeutic because it allows to you channel negative feelings into fictional characters, giving you emotional release in a safe and healthy way (a.k.a. you can have a full mental break down in a scene and it’s totally cool because you’re “acting”.) Due to the therapeutic elements related to performing and art in general I have a few friends taking a double major in Pysch and Drama Studies in hopes to continue in Art Therapy (which I have been told is a growing industry.)
My overview: This course takes a look at few unconventional performance practices that take place outdoors (i.e. busking, guided tours, historical reenactments etc.) It concludes with a theatrical tour of the Glendon campus (which means the class included an element of script writing that I REALLY enjoyed) where students learn vocal and physical techniques to help keep an audience engaged in a non-conventional setting.
Biggest takeaway: Absolutely anything can be viewed as a performance.
Unconventional use: Public speaking in any capacity ever – This course completely changed my views of what can be considered a performance and taught me how to apply the skills I’ve learned in other performance classes to my everyday presentation skills. (I’ve also become a far better Tour Guide because of this course, but you can see for yourself if you come visit me on Nov 6th for Fall Campus Day.)
My overview: This course focuses on accessibility and diversity in the classroom. It questions whether or not our current education system is doing enough to help facilitate a fair and even playing field for equitable education.
Biggest takeaway: Our current education system is NOT doing enough to help facilitate a fair and even playing field for equitable education.
Unconventional use: Every aspect of life ever – I loved this class so much and I wish everyone could take it. As a straight white girl who comes from upper-middle class family in the suburbs, this course was an extreme eye opener because it showed me how easy I had it in school without even noticing it. A lot of our current education system is built in a way that only suits the needs of one specific kind of student (such as students who love colour coding, a.k.a me), and those student who don’t fit this mold are labeled as stupid, or a troublemaker, or impossible to work with therefore resulting in self-fulfilling prophecies (which are no good at all.) I know that this course is going to stick with me forever, no matter what I decide to make my career.
The point of this post is not to force my program on anyone. In fact I’d highly recommend that you stay away from what I’m doing unless you are passionate about theatre and/or making school a better place for future students. However I am trying to prove to y’all and to myself (and to all the Uber drivers of the world) that a Liberal Arts degree CAN prepare you for the real world in more ways than one.
Here’s the thing, I’m only 19 and I haven’t had that much experience with the job market but from what I’ve heard it’s a bitch. That being said I don’t think it’s worth it for you to force yourself into to program that you hate just because its “where the job openings are” because you never know what employers might be looking for in four years.
I think it is important to remember that University is just one stop on your TTC trip of life and you’ve got a ways to go until you reach your final destination. So sometimes it’s better to go with your gut and study what you love and then try to figure out what the hell your going to do with it along the way.
À la prochaine,
P.S. If you would like to hear more about how a liberal arts degree can jumpstart your career be sure to check out one of our many info sessions offered at this year’s Fall Campus Day. Click here for more details!