Image from Flickr

Image from Flickr.

“You’ll never get a job.” “What are you even going to do with that degree?” “Why are you even in college? The humanities aren’t something you need a degree for.”

I hear these things too regularly, especially when I tell people I am an English major…at an engineering college. I have to admit though; I did grow up thinking the same things that most people think about the humanities. I didn’t necessarily make fun of them like some people do, but I was always curious as to why someone would want to attend college for something in the humanities or liberal arts. Weren’t those kinds of things just hobbies or interests, and not something to do for your whole life? I never knew humanity majors did with their lives after graduation because they weren’t guaranteed a job like science or medical majors. I see all over the internet and in current media people making fun of the humanities. They do have a pretty bad reputation, but trust me they are definitely worth studying or at least looking into.

I get to explore different types of literature from throughout the years, explore different types of writing, and most importantly learn about people and how to successfully communicate with everyone. I get to learn how to not only think creatively, but also how to ask questions and explore the world beyond mathematical equations and scientific terms. I could list why the humanities matter and why, especially as high school seniors, you should research the different programs and majors offered, but instead I am going to tell you my personal experience of switching from science to the humanities to show why it important to look at all your options instead of just the “practical” majors.

My High School Experience

Throughout school I was always good at my English classes. They came naturally to me, and I was always interested in what we were learning. Even though it was something I was interested in and liked doing, it was something I never looked into because I thought it wasn’t a practical degree, and I wouldn’t automatically have a job after I graduated college. My school did not offer any other literature or English classes, but heavily focused on the science department. This caused me take every science class I could to try to find one I would want to study once I graduated and moved on to college. I even took forensic classes online and honors chemistry because they were part of the science based classes my school didn’t have. I wouldn’t have even thought about exploring humanity based classes to take online because I always thought I should go to college for something practical, like a medical field based degree, instead of something in the humanities.

Later on, I got accepted into college for medical laboratory science and decided this would be where I would attend without researching any other colleges or degrees. I figured it was my best option because I was always told it was a smart choice to go for something medical and scientific. When I decided I wanted to pursue a degree in medical lab science, I remember how happy my family was and they told me how proud they were that I was doing something so hard yet rewarding. This pushed me even farther from wanting to do something in the humanities.

The College Years

Once college rolled around and I started my classes, I slowly started to realize that medical lab wasn’t the right degree for me. I was struggling in my classes and blamed it on the fact that it was my first semester at college. In all actuality, it was because I wasn’t enjoying what I was learning and I couldn’t realistically see myself being in a lab my whole life. I began to worry because I had no idea what else I would study in school. I desperately wanted to stay in a science degree because of the hype and how happy my family was for me.

I took the time to look at my college’s website to explore the different options of degrees and programs I had. When I saw the description for the English program, it started to click in my head. I loved everything that was listed in the description and could see myself pursuing a degree that allowed me to explore writing and literature more. I researched the classes offered and made an appointment with the adviser.

I have been in my major now since the second semester of my freshman year, and I know it is a perfect match for me. I have learned not only about writing and the basic things of literature, but also how to be creative and explore why our world is the way it is. The humanities aren’t practical and don’t teach you exactly how to solve a problem or how things work. Instead, you get to try different approaches to problems and understand things better. I wish I would have started off with an English degree instead of being pushed away from it because I believed it wouldn’t benefit me in any way. I was wrong because I have learned so much about literature, myself, people, and our society.

Give Humanities a Chance

To sum everything up, I fully recommend researching other majors, minors or programs that aren’t your typical choice. I am an advocate for the humanities, but I think you should research all of your options. Make a list of the things you like and what you’re good at, not just in school. Take as many different classes you can while still in high school because it will help you get an idea of what works for you. If you haven’t started looking at colleges and degree programs yet, this advice will help when choosing the right school.

I recommend looking at a lot of different colleges that necessarily don’t have to be close to your hometown or in state. Most colleges require you to apply with a degree in mind already, so it’s best to know already what you would like to do. Research if the schools you are applying to have a humanities program so you could have a minor in it. At my school, every major is required to take a set amount of humanity based classes to become better rounded. I fully agree with this and believe it will help you in the long run. The humanities help you learn to write, communicate, present your ideas, become better at public speaking and understand people better. They say that the best bosses are the ones who majored in the humanities because of everything they learned about people and the world around us.

Give humanities a chance while looking at what you want your major to be in college. If you’re like me and it is one of the things you’ve always wanted to do but have been too afraid because of the negative reputation it has, give it a chance. Even if you don’t want to only be in the humanities, take a few classes to test if it is what you would like to do. There’s nothing that can go wrong because those classes will benefit you in any degree you are majoring in. You will become well rounded and I promise you’ll learn more than you thought you would. Don’t be afraid to follow your true dream if it is in the humanities and don’t worry about the hate that the department gets. Trust me, in the end it is definitely worth it, and I am the happiest I could be because of my switch from science to English.

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