Redefining the Major
Written by Corinne Prost
“The American Studies major teaches you something about freedom in its own way. If you don’t know what you want to study when you go into the program, it can be difficult. You can take all of the ‘easy’ classes, but if you want to get something out of the major, you have to be disciplined. Discipline is a crucial part of freedom. Without discipline, freedom is hollow.” -Michael Lucchese, ‘18
This may come as a shock, but the major itself won’t hand you a job. What truly determines students’ success is how they choose to invest in their majors throughout all four years of education. Michael Lucchese, class of ’18, firmly subscribes to this belief that each individual, not the major, defines the future.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect about Michael is that he represented one of the few American Studies majors on campus. American Studies, an interdisciplinary field only available at a handful of colleges, calls for the study of politics, history, and English and requires both a thesis and written comprehensive exams be completed at the end of senior year.
If students apply themselves, the major offers an incomparable education by giving them the ability to personalize the subject matter and variety of their politics, history, and English classes. This allows students to examine more closely particular problems or subjects that they’re interested in.
Michael, for instance, was interested in slavery during the period of Antebellum America. Through the program, he had the opportunity to take every class at Hillsdale that covers this period of American history. This is the main reason he decided to forego a singular focus in politics and pick up the American Studies major.
“With a history or politics or English degree, you’re getting a generic overview of whatever it is you’re studying. You’re not getting the comprehensive picture,” Michael explained. “With those majors, you’re learning a lot about a little. With the American Studies program, you’re learning the specifics of what you care about.”
Some criticize the American Studies major for attempting to cover too much with too little detail and claim that it doesn’t translate feasibly into a vocation. Michael responds to this with a meditation on how the freedom to determine your education goes hand in hand with the responsibility of living in a free society.
“One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about as a senior is that the American Studies major teaches you something about freedom in its own way. If you don’t know what you want to study when you go into the program, it can be difficult. You can take all of the ‘easy’ classes, but if you want to get something out of the major, you have to be disciplined. Discipline is a crucial part of freedom. Without discipline, freedom is hollow.”
Choosing what to study based on future vocational prospects alone will not take you far. You must also pursue your studies with wholehearted discipline. That which is worth studying is worthy of time.
Corinne Prost, ’19, is an American studies major and rhetoric minor. She dreams to one day own a library so extensive that it rivals the one from Beauty and the Beast.
Published in February 2019.