Let’s settle this: Is the BA or the BSc a harder degree?
Also does anyone actually care
You’ve probably seen the endless articles. You’ve probably agreed with whichever is fighting for the corner in which your degree sits. You’ve probably reeled in disbelief at the audacity of the opposing side. Surely, however, you’ve realised at some point, how pitiful this degree rivalry is.
As I near the end of my university experience, I reflect on the popular topics of debate I’ve encountered: some hilarious, some inspiring, some educational, and some really fucking annoying. One particular discussion that fits into the latter category has, unfortunately, recurred throughout my time here at Newcastle – from optimistic, doe-eyed fresher right through to nihilistic, haggard final year, and I think it’s time I address it. What better way to do so than in the way that any self-respecting child of this generation would, and type up an angry rant about it? So, without further ado, here’s why I think we need to stop trying to prove whether the BSc, or the BA is a harder degree.
We’ll start with the humanities. Yes, my fellow BA students, I hear you. We’re given about -5 contact hours a week, doomed from the very first lecture to navigate our way through three years of what will essentially be a self-taught degree. It’s not easy. In fact it’s really, really difficult. But to claim that the alternative, having to sit through 8 contact hours each and every day of the week, is a favourable substitute when you yourself start dribbling 1.5 hours into a 2 hour seminar, is a little rich. It’s pretty easy to tell a BSc that “once you learn something you’ve learnt it”, when you’re not the one having to learn 480 minutes of information daily. It’s clear to see that both ends of the spectrum are hair-pullingly challenging, so feel free to climb off of your pedestal and tone it down a touch.
Now, I’m sure you would be feeling pretty pissed off as your gaze is met with the gleaming eyes of a mathematician who, upon hearing that you study Philosophy, retorts with “I bet you don’t know how to balance an equation tho lol” (If that ever even happens – seriously – does anyone actually say that?). It does not, however, justify you embarking on an overly-defensive verbal rampage in which you desperately assert your superiority and in doing so, wage war against their entire degree programme. Relax. Just ask them if they can summarise the teleological argument for the existence of God according to Aquinas’ 5th Way in 50 words or less. Touché.
Now, to you BSc students. Your smugness is embarrassing, and entirely misplaced. I could be wrong, but the last time I checked that post-grad editing job I’m applying for isn’t looking for a degree in Chemical Engineering, nor did I choose to do a Literature degree in the hopes of becoming an astrophysicist. If that were the case then yes, maybe I would find myself paling in comparison to your sparkling employment prospects, however until then, I’m pretty optimistic about my future, so you can sit down. Thanks for the concern, though.
This whole argument. Makes. No. Sense. Give a History student a taste of Mechanical Engineering and see how superior they’re feeling as they stagger away from a two hour Robotics lecture. Equally, drop a biologist into a seminar discussing a postcolonial reading of Mary Wortley Montagu’s Turkish Embassy Letters and see how far their equations get them. (Hint: not very). See where I’m going with this?
Not only is it illogical to insist that one degree is harder than another when, as cliché as it is, we’re all different (cue the rainbows), but it’s also unspeakably arrogant to post an entire article declaring why you think you’re undisputedly smarter than an entire category of academics. Also, may we briefly address the obvious: not all BA students quake in their distressed leather boots at the prospect of an equation, many of us are even dare I say it, really good at maths. The same applies to those doing BScs, a large percentage of whom are not only entirely socially competent (I’m sure those spectrum jokes must get pretty old) but fully capable of writing a sentence with impeccable syntax and grammar. Mind-blowing, I know. Feel free to have a little sit-down as this all sinks in.
At the end of the day, we need to stop claiming “My degree’s better than yours”, and get over it. It doesn’t prove anything, except that you’re a massive dick.