Anyone can dye their hair blue or wear a graphic tee with a pun on it. But a tattoo really makes a person stand out. It means that a person cared so much about a design of the meaning behind it that they permanently etched it onto their body. From small tattoos about family to ones that represent personal growth, tattoos explore the different facets of your personality that make you unique.
Check out these 10 ideas for small tattoos that will suit every major.
Biology (and science in general TBH) can be a tough major for many students. Trust me, I’m the sister and friend of many biology majors. Yet, with the stress of science comes the beauty of the natural world. The DNA double helix is a key element of the human aspect of biology. And it represents something beautiful. “The double helix is so simple yet beautiful, just one little twist of two strands that compose who we are genetically and phenotypically,” said University of Albany junior Shayna Plascoff. With a super cute tattoo like this, it’ll be hard to stay stressed over your latest bio exam.
As an English major, you live for words. But that doesn’t mean you should stick to quotes. After all, a big part of your favorite novels is the story itself. Symbols from your favorite novel or poem could lead to unique and unexpected options. “I’d say a mockingbird, maybe with an arrow through it. For To Kill a Mockingbird,” said Trinity College junior Erin Murphy. Or, if you love mythology, choose a small sail to represent Odysseus’ travels. Also, you can never go wrong with a classic Deathly Hallows symbol or lightning bolt with round glasses from Harry Potter. Stealing the determination from the boy who lived is the best way to get through those long papers.
It may seem like the easiest choice for a math major would be the quadratic equation or perhaps one of the core computation symbols. However, try something a bit more unique that will help you stand out while showing your love of numbers. Why not try a geometrical shape or something less widely known? “I think that a QED symbol would be cool, like a factal or the Sierpinski gasket,” said Trinity College junior Samantha Jarvis. A QED symbol is placed at the end of a proof. It means, “which was to be shown.” Getting the symbol tattooed on your arm represents both your passion for your major and your certainty about what you want in life.
4. History / International Studies
Learning about the past and other cultures not only helps you to become a well-rounded person, but also broadens your horizons about the world and the potential for the global future. The best part? You have an endless amount of options. A tattoo of the flag or a symbol of your favorite country, or one that represents the era that you find most interesting will bring you joy whenever you look at it. You’ll find no better way to show off your appreciation and knowledge for international cultures and historical events.
5. Computer Science
Did you know that the circuit board was the first step to the creation of computers, cellphones and tablets? A tattoo of a circuit board would show off your geeky side and pay homage to this field’s humble beginnings. It also allows you to be unique in the computer science world, due to the different types of circuit boards that exist. You can find cool and creative ways to expand the circuit board or add more for a technical cyborg look. Who doesn’t want to look like a cyborg from your favorite robot movie?
6. Theatre / Art
As some of the most creative and artistic people on campus, theatre and art majors can draw inspiration from a myriad of sources. A more classic iteration of the arts would be a tattoo of the tragedy and comedy masks that have represented theatre for centuries. However, Trinity College junior Sarah Kristen Vazquez has a different idea. “My dream tattoo is a quote from the musical Passing Strange that says, ‘You gotta wear it like a gown.’ I was a part of that show during a difficult and pivotal point in my life and that line inspired me to love myself,” said Vazquez. “Once I realized the impact that the line had on me, I realized that if I pursued acting and theatre as a career I could provide someone else with a similar life changing experience.”
7. Nursing/ Pre-Med
As a nursing or pre-med student, you’re on your way to saving lives and helping people through their illnesses. Yet, through it all, you will have an emotional connection to the lives you help. Having a heart beating tattoo shows the love that you have for your field and your patients. You can even use pop culture references to show your love for medical and patient care. “I’ve always wanted a Harry Potter tattoo and I even toyed with the idea of getting one of the spells tattooed on me. The spell would be ‘episky’ which is the healing spell,” said Wagner College junior Melina Woods. “Since I’m going into nursing, I thought it would be appropriate.” You can never go wrong with a little dose of popular culture.
8. Politcal Science / Pre-Law
Political scientists and future lawyers can bond over the tangled language of the law through constant debates over what is just and unjust. Getting a tattoo that represents the fields well will help you point out your fellow politics and law geeks. “I feel as though the Scale of Justice would be good,” said Trinity College junior Madison Kirton. “It’s the symbol that best represents the legal field and why lawyers do what they do.” A tattoo like the Scale of Justice also shows your values and dedication to justice and representation in your life—a must for any political science or law student.
Understanding the brain is the most important part of learning Psychology. A small brain tattoo shows off your love of the field as well as your own smarts. Having a diagram of the brain will not only help you remember the function of the corpus callosum, but also functions as a great conversation starter. For a more chemical approach to the field, tattoos of the different chemical compounds that affect your mood can easily help to change yours. Serotonin for an extra dose of happiness or oxytocin for when you feel smitten. As your PSYCH 101 professor might have said, “psychology is just the brain trying to understand itself.”
10. Environmental Science
You could be #basic and get a flower tattoo, but why not choose a tattoo just as unique as you? Cristina Niclas, a junior from Trinity College, has a great suggestion. “It would be a tree of life on my ribcage, underneath my ‘within nature lies the cure for humanity’ quote,” said Niclas. “I’ve been planning on getting a tree for quite some time. I think it would definitely represent my love for the outdoors and all things nature.” Having the tree of life lets you express your love for nature while also focusing on the connectivity found within life. You could add leaves, branches or roots to the tattoo for each major experience you have in life.
Why Students Decided to Get Tattoos
“My first tattoo is a quote from Jane Eyre, which is my favorite book. It says, ‘I am no bird,’ which I like because it’s when Jane really asserts herself during Rochester’s proposal. Even though she loves him she values her own autonomy so much. As a teenager, the book meant a lot to me because of how much I identified with Jane.” – Vianna Iorio, Trinity College, Class of 2019.
“The first tattoo I got was a rose on my ankle. The rose means a promise of hope and new beginnings and when I got it, it was during a really stressful time and I felt that I needed to do something that I had control over. The second tattoo is a pineapple on my hip and this was based off of my new member class and our Mom or Sister development chair in the sorority I’m in. A pineapple represents a warm home that is always welcoming and that is what we are as a class. We are the best things to ever happen to each other and we always wanted to be reminded that anywhere that we go when we look at our pineapple tattoo we know that we always have each other.” – Paraskevi Leonardos, University of New Hampshire, Class of 2019.
“I have one. I got it cause I saw it and literally just knew I was going to get a tattoo of it. I first saw it in an art history class. We were learning about the Vienna secession building. It was on the left side of the building. The quote, ‘Ver Sacrum’ meaning ‘Sacred Spring’ was often used when there was danger or strife in the community. It’s a reference to being brave and sacrificing myself for my family.” – Erin Murphy, Trinity College, Class of 2019.
“My first was the snake half-sleeve on my left arm that starts at the elbow, circles my shoulder and ends at my chest. It’s nothing special but I designed it myself so I love it for that reason. There’s no bigger meaning to it than just the aesthetic. My left half sleeve is a fully blacked out sun and moon on the tricep, because my dad had that on his back, and the lines on the side and the front are part of a blueprint my grandfather had for something, he was a military engineer. That one’s for memory.” – Alexander Honcharenko, former student, Brooklyn College.
“I got tattoos because when I was little, I always admired other people with tattoos. I thought tattoos were beautiful and really allowed you to express yourself without having to say anything. A stranger could learn so much about you without even having to ask. It’s all related to the belief that all humans are interconnected. I have a heart on my wrist, ‘here comes the sun’ on my arm, and ‘within nature lies the cure for humanity’ on my ribcage.” – Cristina Niclas, Trinity College, Class of 2019.
“Before I got my tattoo I thought about it for three years…My aunt had cancer for the latter part of her life and she never let it slow her down. She always radiated sunshine. She would dance into rooms, travel around the country, joke with anyone who was near and inspired everyone she spoke with. Additionally my mom always played the song ‘I Hope You Dance’ for me as a child. She sang it to me at my high school graduation and my mom is the most important woman in my life. She is a warrior and she is the reason for everything I do. This is why I have the words ‘I hope you dance’ tattooed on my thigh in my mom’s handwriting. There’s also a little feather under the writing, which is a symbol for my Auntie’s spirit.” – Sarah Kristen Vazquez, Trinity College, Class of 2019.
“I got my first tattoo to match my cousin and my sister. We grew up together and one was leaving the nest, moving halfway across the world so it only felt right. We decided to get the infinity sign with the anchor because in the Bible there is a scripture that says, ‘The lord is my anchor.’ An anchor is tossed from a boat to prevent the shift from drifting. Through our relationship with God and each other we will infinitely hold each other down.” – Jayla Akers, Penn State, Class of 2018.
“I have an arrow tattoo, signifying that I’m a fighter. Anyone who propagates his/her own hatred on me, will be stricken by my words of wisdom that will change their perspective since we have different stories. I would say that you should get a tattoo without shame. A lot of people will discourage you and say that you look like a want to be rebel. At the end of the day, it is your body, so modify it with art that expresses your creativity and worth.” – Pedro Bonilla, Trinity College, Class of 2019.
“I only have one. I got it because it has personal significance to me but also because I like the way that it looks. I have the scales of a bearded dragon tattooed along my leg, I’m planning on adding color to it soon. I had the idea for a few years before I actually got it. I’m planning on getting more because I feel that there is an enormous amount of psychological change that occurs during our own life spans so I feel if it’s strange to not physically change your body to recognize significant turning points in your life which is what my tattoos are.” – Louis LaSpigna, Binghampton University, Class of 2019.