Most students are aware of the stereotypes surrounding different college majors, and there may even be some truth in these ideas when it comes to a person’s personality.
Some of the persistent ideas include psychology majors constantly diagnosing friends and family, international studies majors looking for something easy and biomedical science majors doing what their parents want.
“People usually tend to think psychology majors are constantly analyzing people and want to hear about all their problems or that we’re all crazy,” said Isabella Lopes, a junior majoring in psychology. “I am a good listener and like to help people with their problems, but not all the time and not with strangers.”
According to Scientific American, there is an association with personality traits — neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness — and a person’s major. For example, psychology and arts/humanities majors score high on openness and neuroticism.
The averages of this study conclude that, economics, law, medicine, and political science majors happen to score high on extraversion. Scientific American states that not all people may fit in with their major’s pervading personality types and major choice should not be based on personality alone.
While most of these college stereotypes are harmless, some can be more impactful than others.
“When I tell people I am majoring in international studies, people either think I am in my major because it’s easy or because I want to be a senator one day,” said Breanna Nierlich, a senior majoring in international studies.
Other than the major being profiled as tranquil, another stereotype include students pursuing the field are heavily opinionated on political matters.
“It is generally assumed that my political position is either very right or very left. In general, they (stereotypes) are harmful … It is unethical for a person to be judged because of a larger majority,” Nierlich said.
According to The American Psychological Association, there is a phenomenon called “stereotype threat.” This is when harmful stereotypes cause poor academic performance, because they “raise inhibiting doubts and high-pressure anxieties.”
Brittany Williams, a junior majoring in biomedical sciences, said she feels that students in her major are “expected to be very intelligent, efficient, and to have [their] lives together.”
Other than being universally considered an elitist science wiz, biomedical science majors are held to a certain standard that is often times difficult to fulfill.
“I am immediately put on this pedestal of expectations, because most people usually connect biomedical sciences with the medical field. This stereotype can stress anyone out and can be harmful, and I’m sure my peers would agree,” Williams said.
Not all students within a college are the same. To believe that they are would be a detriment to the future business leaders, medical professionals, teachers and any other career field.
“The truth is we all come from different educational backgrounds, and not all of us think or learn the same way. I am proud of anyone who chooses this path and chooses to persevere through the many struggles. To bind individuals to these common stereotypes would dissipate his or her own individuality and exceptional qualities,” Williams said.