Why You Should Reconsider Your Interest in Humanities

“What are you going to do with that degree?” and “How are you going to make money?” are just a few of the pressing questions Humanities majors get when they tell somebody what they are studying in college. These may seem like valid questions, especially when your major is something more ambiguous (@me in Global Studies), but sometimes it can come with a patronizing and judgemental tone. I get told that I am wasting my money and should do something that has a better future for me. It has taken me years to separate myself from these questions that I too once asked myself. I have learned how to respond to these comments because there is a good future in Humanities. These are some of the things that I tell people when they try to tell me what I should be doing at college.

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I use the things I learn in my Humanities major EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

The classes I am taking taught me how to think critically and creatively. I use this in my life all the time whether it is at the grocery store trying to decide what to buy or in the classroom discussing a piece of literature. My curiosity of the world has been rewarded in this field, and I have been taught how to act with empathy in almost every situation. I constantly analyze the world from my own perspective, which has been informed by varying different viewpoints. I am constantly learning from the world around me thanks to the classes that taught me how to analyze what I see and hear in a global context.

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Humanities majors make good leaders.

The largest portion of humanities majors (15%) end up in managerial positions. Classes in humanities and social science teach the soft skills that make people stand out as effective leaders. Empathy, communication, critical-thinking, and teamwork are just a couple that can put one candidate above another for a leadership role. 

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Just because I am getting a degree in one area doesn’t mean I have to have a career in that same exact subject.

One of the biggest misconceptions in college is that if you get your degree in something then you gain a specific title. For example, if you major in engineering, then you become an engineer; Philosophy-Philosopher, and so on. This is where people get really confused when I tell them that I am majoring in Global Studies. What will I do? What will I be? Will I be a “Global Studier”? In the past when education was more specialized this confusion may have been justified, but it is absolutely not the reality anymore. I can do so many different things with my degree, because I will come to the interview with a different worldview than someone who may have only specialized in one subject. Someone who studied Humanities undergrad stands out in the pool of applicants to post-grad programs like law and med school because they are different and can bring in a new perspective. Overall, my degree prepares me for my life in general, not just a specific job.

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Finally, I AM SPENDING MY OWN MONEY ON SCHOOL, I DESERVE TO DO SOMETHING THAT I ACTUALLY LIKE.

Let me repeat that one more time for the people in the back. I am not going to put myself through hell in school in a major that I hate so that I can make more money doing a job that I am uninterested in in the future. It is my life, and I should not be miserable to be comfortable financially. The road right after graduation may not be a smooth one, but in the end I think I will be more fulfilled doing something meaningful and interesting to me than pleasing somebody else. We all have to do what is right for us, even if that is not the easiest path.

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In the end, the only thing that matters is that you are enjoying what you do and how you live your life. If your STEM major isn’t providing that for you, maybe it’s not the right path for you! Just because it may have worked for your parents or your friends doesn’t mean it will for you. As my First Year Exploratory Studies people at Drexel can tell you, trying out new classes never hurts. At the very least you may find something that you never knew you had an interest in and you can minor in it! It is important to remember that we can all be more understanding as well-rounded individuals than if we close off our minds to outside experiences. And if you need any more convincing, just remember that Michelle Obama was a sociology major.

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