Why I'm Proud To Be a History Major

Ever since I settled on history in high school, I’ve had to take many jabs on behalf of my major. “Why would you want to study that?”, “History is so boring,” “I hated history in school,” and “But you’ll never be able to get a job!” are all things that have been said to me upon learning that I’m a history major. While everyone is always asked why they picked their major, I have found that history is one that has required an unusual amount of defense and explanation.

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Going as far back as middle school, I’ve always known that going to college is something I wanted to do. Like most kids, I changed my mind about what I wanted to do with my life almost every time I thought about it. By junior year, when college was almost a reality instead of a far-off dream, I realized that I had to pick something to study. If you asked me four years ago why I chose to be a history major, I would have told you that I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life, but that history was always easy and interesting to me, so choosing it as my major is what made the most sense. 

But now that I have spent almost three years in my major, my justification for it has changed. I used to love history because I thought that it was easy, but now I love it, in part, because of how complex it is. Many people think that history is final, in the sense that once you learn one thing about the past, there is nothing else to learn and that it can't be changed. While there are certain things about the past that are definite, the idea that you can never learn anything more than what you have already been taught is completely false. If you compared my high school US history class with the one I’m taking now, you could teach a whole class just on the things that the high school curriculum left out. 

I am constantly learning new pieces of information that either were not taught to me before college or were, but were not taught accurately. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a professor say something along the lines of, “In high school, you were probably taught ____, but that’s not entirely true.”  History is not static.  There are always new facts being uncovered, new interpretations being written, and new details to learn.

One of the most upsetting criticisms of history I hear is that it is not relevant.  I’ve heard so many fellow classmates over the years complain that they don’t understand why they should care about something that happened four hundred years ago.  The one thing that will never cease to amaze me is that I am always finding parallels between something that happened hundreds of years ago, and something that is happening now, a fact that lately has become quite upsetting.  If we are going to solve any of the problems in today’s world, it essential that we understand how these issues developed.  If there is one thing I have learned about history, it is that every event has both short-term and long-term causes.  We can’t create a better future without first looking to the past for guidance.

While I may not enjoy every area of history I study, I cannot underestimate its importance.  To me, history is one of the most important things people can study, and I wouldn’t dream of replacing it with any other major.

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