Who has it tougher?

A non-engineer gives her perspective

Often when on campus, I hear students discussing how the difficulty of their majors. Some say, “biomedical engineers have to take Organic Chemistry and Calculus Four.” Others say that engineers are required to take the “hard thermodynamics.” Yet, my mentor once said that science majors have it still harder, since they must take Biology, Chemistry, as well as Electricity and Magnetism at the same time. “Our course load is heavier” some science majors say. “Our classes are more challenging” engineers retort. So at the end of the day, who has it tougher? What major requires the greatest academic effort?
My RA during freshman year, Melissa Matos, once told me how Business and Technology majors are perceived incorrectly by some Stevens’ students. The major is seen as not academically strenuous, which is a misconception. Many Business and Technology majors here frequently give presentations as part of their assignments, a task many science majors find daunting. Humanities majors here at Stevens have to write papers regularly, which many of my engineering friends find more difficult than solving tedious differential equations. Every major has its own difficulties, its own obstacles. Physics majors take optics, and circuits. Engineers have to take design every semester. I myself am taking three labs at the same time.
So how can we assess who bears the biggest brunt? Everyone’s experiences seem so different. I know for a fact that I would fail Optics if forced to take it. But I also know that some of my civil engineering friends would hate Organic Chemistry. I think that to answer this question, we need to understand that everyone is different. What one finds academically exciting and therefore, easier is not the same as another. I enjoy Organic Chemistry because at the end of the day, molecules and reactions excite me. At the same time, my friend Sonali, an Electrical Engineering major, thrives in electricity and magnetism because she enjoys studying charges and currents.
We all chose our respective majors for a reason, hopefully because that we enjoy studying that particular academic discipline. Of course, at times, we will find certain subjects difficult. But at the end of the day, we should enjoy the overall academic career we have chosen. Instead of announcing to the world how hard we have it, we should appreciate the passion and difficulties of other majors as well. I, for one, have deep respect for engineering majors who have to take Engineering Design every semester. I also respect business majors for being able to present their thoughts and perspectives with such clarity and confidence in front of crowds. We all need to admit that while our major may be challenging, perhaps we’ll find other majors even more difficult. Can you imagine making all our chemical engineers History majors, or putting a History major in a thermodynamics class? Although a minority would enjoy the change, for most it would be frustrating.
We all have our place. We should study what we enjoy, and hopefully, academically succeed. It is important for us all to appreciate the challenges of other disciplines of academia. We should appreciate the readings an English major must do, and the memorization a chemistry major must brunt. We should respect others’ passions and satisfactions from taking on these daunting tasks, even if we don’t understand why. Ultimately, every major is difficult in its own way, but our passion to learn our respective subjects is what makes it tolerable, and sometimes even enjoyable. It’s time we all take a step back and respect that.