Rhetoric as a Confidence Booster

A term we referred to in class known as “major shaming” has become prominent in today’s culture. I was very engaged in our class discussion last week on whether there are real majors and fake majors and everyone’s unique opinions on the matter. I definitely agree that some majors are more useful than others. For example, we talked about the leadership major and the fact that it should be more of a minor or double major than in its own category. However, even though I would never choose a major such as leadership, I still believe it should not be referred to as fake. If a student is taking the time to focus on a certain area of study, it must be something of value to them or their future.

I believe what some people would term a “fake major” is a major that is broad and potentially mysterious. For example, many people tend to look down at English majors. I believe this is probably because of how broad the major is. What people don’t think about is the fact that such a broad major leaves a student with a multitude of options of what career path to take. Rather than limiting themselves to a specific career, an English major has many different options and routes they could take with their future. Additionally, I think many people would call a major fake if it appears to have a small chance of landing a student employment after graduation. I also disagree with this way of thinking because it should only matter to the student what their prospects are for the future job market. If they are willingly taking a chance at not being able to get a job, their major must be meaningful enough to them to constitute it as real.

I believe that as a society, we use such major shaming as a form of rhetoric. By putting others down for their personal choices, we are trying to convince ourselves that we we have chosen is worthy and not just a waste of our time. We use such negative judgement to feel better about ourselves and persuade ourselves that our future will turn out okay. When I think about it in this way, it’s very obvious to see how much of a role rhetoric has in my own self confidence and image through my own self persuasion about my choices and life experiences.

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2 thoughts on “Rhetoric as a Confidence Booster

  1. I too was really into the conversation we had about whether some majors are “real” versus “fake”. I truly do not think there is any such thing as a “fake” major, and the main reason I say so is similar a point you made. If someone is committing four years of their time and efforts to studying and earning a degree in a specific field, then they clearly feel passionate enough about it to consider it worthy of their time. It can also be true that those people most likely see some sort of future career in the area, and that’s good enough to make it “real”, right?

    The main argument I have for my opinion that no major can be fake just comes back to the ability of someone to see and want a future in a certain topic area. So what if it’s leadership? Although it may sound vague and broad to most, I would hope and think that anyone in that major envisions a specific future with that degree.

    I really like your idea in the last paragraph of us as a society putting other majors down to make ourselves feel better about our chosen paths. As wrong as it is, I do think we do this to seek more confidence in our own futures. The rhetoric of criticizing others and their career paths is certainly rhetoric used for evil instead of good.

  2. Jill, I think you made some really great points in this post. I agree completely with your opinion on major shaming, specifically that it often occurs for broad majors where others simply don’t have the understanding of where the major may lead. What I thought was most interesting was considering “major shaming” as a from of rhetoric. Usually we think of rhetoric as a means of persuading an audience. However, if like you said, major shaming occurs when people are trying to convince themselves that their decisions are valid, then it is a form of rhetoric. Even though there is not an outside audience, when a person chooses language considered “major shaming”, they are employing rhetoric in order to convince themselves. This is a new way to look at rhetoric that I had not considered before!

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