10 Things Not to Say to an Arts and Humanities Student

1. “I’m guessing you’re going to be a teacher, right?”

Not that there is anything wrong with being a teacher, but there happens to be other professions available to Arts and Humanities students (shocking, I know). The problem with this question is the assumption that the only available option to non-STEM students is a teaching position (not to mention that this assumption typically has a negative undertone to it). Rest assured, I can guarantee that a good majority of Arts and Humanities students are pursuing a profession other than teaching.

 

2. “Wow, good luck finding a well-paying job!”

Not only is this statement wrong on so many levels, but it’s also just plain rude. All college students stress about finding a job in the future, so why put even more stress on an Arts and Humanities student by insinuating that they have little to no options? We are all trying to figure out this crazy time in our lives that is adulthood, so please do not make it harder for someone just because of their major (or just in general really; basically please don’t be a jerk for no apparent reason).

 

3. “I’m going to be up SO late tonight doing homework; be thankful that you’re a humanities student!”

Okay John the Biology major, I recall you complaining about your ten-page research paper you had to write that ONE time that took you FOREVER. Imagine that, but ALL THE TIME. Just because my homework does not consist of formulas and equations does not mean it’s any less time consuming than yours.

 

4. “Aren’t your classes just a lot of reading?”

Okay, yes, our classes typically rely heavily on reading, but I wouldn’t downplay it to “just” reading. You’d be surprised what all you can learn between the pages of a book (if you’d just be bothered to crack one open…). Also, have you seen some of the stuff Arts and Humanities students have to read? Can you say dense A-F?

 

5. “I wish my courses were as simple and subjective as yours.”

Firstly, subjective does not equate to simple. Courses in the Arts and Humanities do depend on subjective and rational methods, but that doesn’t mean the work is easy. At least your courses have concrete, right answers. When taking a stance in an argument, we must make our argument concise, back it up with examples and facts, and do so in an eloquent manner. Doing all of those things might not even get us full points, so sometimes a little objectivity wouldn’t be too bad.

 

6. “You’ll have to get your Masters then to really get a decent job.”

You mean like how you will too? Let’s be honest, the fight to get a good job is getting more and more competitive each year. Chances are we'll ALL have to further our education beyond undergrad - whether that be med school, grad school, or something else - so don’t single out Arts and Humanities students just because you don’t understand the kind of work we do.

 

7. “You must be bad at math and science.”

This is not the case for every Arts and Humanities student (it is for me), just like not every STEM student is bad at English and History. It really all just comes down to what you’re interested in and geared towards. Some people can’t string an essay together, and some people can’t do math! Also, just something to keep in mind, we still come across subjects like economics and math in Arts and Humanities. We’re not completely removed from the subjects.

 

8. “You must have so much free time; I’m so jealous!”

Again, not having to use formulas and do equations does not mean MORE FREE TIME! Reading and analyzing and writing take up a LOT of time! No single major takes up more time than another major; all majors have different kinds of work that take up time. Period.

 

9. “But what’s the point in studying art, literature, and dead people?”

Well, try asking this question to our teachers, psychologists, writers, producers, politicians, journalists, lawyers, historians, musicians, editors, anthropologists….need I go on? The Arts and Humanities encompass a large array of subjects, all of which provide students with skills that can help them in different ways and prepare them for multiple paths. I’m sure my ability to analyze a problem will help me much more in life than my knowing that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell.

 

10. “How useful is your degree REALLY though?”

Contrary to popular belief, the Arts and Humanities provide you with very vital skill sets that are necessary in life. Courses in the Arts and Humanities, to name a few, teach communication skills, critical thinking and reading, problem-solving skills, creative thinking, and writing skills. They help us to understand other people through their cultures and histories. Learning about human experience helps us understand our world and each other a little bit better. All in all, STEM gives you facts, answers, and certainty, but Arts and Humanities gives us uncertainty, and the skills to deal with that uncertainty on our own. It tells us to be skeptical of the world and to come up with our own answers.

 

In conclusion, think twice next time you want to judge an Arts and Humanities student. All we Arts and Humanities students want is mutual respect and appreciation. After all, without the Arts and Humanities, you’d be without the things in the world that you most enjoy. How else do you think your favorite music, movies, and shows were created?