Who Cares about Rocks? College Students on the Value of Other Fields of Study

You may have seen a recent Tik Tok from the Marriage Pact asking Stanford students if they believe every field of study has value (and if you haven’t, you should follow us on Tik Tok @marriagepact). The answers varied from tentative yesses to less tentative nos, and even a “why do we need to study rocks?”. 

But you can only ask so many people their thoughts in a single video—and any number of factors might influence their answers (including their major, political and religious affiliations, and more). Let’s expand that sample size, shall we?

We took a look at the responses to the question I see value in every field of study from the 2022 Marriage Pact surveys at Northeastern, Boston College, Wesleyan, and Villanova. Here’s what we learned. 

The average response to the question I see value in every field of study was pretty consistent across schools.

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At each school, the majors that believe there is value in every field of study tended to be non-STEM majors, such as education, English, and psychology (though psychology’s classification as a STEM subject is highly debated. The American Psychological Association says yes, but most colleges and universities consider it a “social science”, not a “hard science”. Don’t @ us, psych majors.)

field of study majors

At each school, the differences in average responses from students of different birth orders and class years were negligible. However, there were some observable trends when it comes to political and religious affiliation, gender identity, and sexual orientation. 

Across the board, socialist students were the most likely to think that there’s value in every field of study. Their Republican peers, on the other hand, were the least likely to agree. 

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When it comes to gender identity, nonbinary and female students had higher averages compared to their male peers. For nonbinary students, however, this may be influenced by their much smaller sample size at each school.

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At every school, heterosexual students were the least likely to see value in every field of study. The top spots varied between pansexual and asexual students as well as students who opted to select “other”.

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The trends among religious affiliations were a little less consistent across schools. Spiritual students at Villanova and Northeastern were the most likely to see value in every field of study, whereas Muslim and Hindu students took the top spots at Boston College and Wesleyan respectively. 

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*We omitted religious identities with smaller populations in order to preserve the anonymity of those students.

Across each school, the more a student values the various fields of study around them, the more likely they are to say that social activism is important to them, they go to great lengths to minimize their harm to the planet, and that they are comfortable with their child being gay. These correlations may be confounded with things like political affiliation or gender identity.

On the flip side, if a student doesn’t see value in every field of study, they’re more likely to think that there is a place for revenge when someone has wronged them. 

Not every pre-med student will see sense in their peer’s archaeology thesis. Not every theatre major will appreciate the intricacy of their friends’ finance group projects. With how much is on their plates with their major alone, it makes sense that college students may have a little tunnel vision when it comes to their own fields of study. It’s interesting to see which students look beyond their little corner of campus and appreciate the majors around them, and which students value their disciplines above all else.

TLDR: To each their own, I guess.

Got a Marriage Pact question you’d like us to ask Stanford students for a Tik Tok? Let us know on Instagram or Tik Tok @marriagepact.