Majoring in the Humanities?!!

Somehow going into this section of the “Senior Seminar” course when we would be talking about the state of the Humanities, the problems with these “diminishing” majors, the value they have, career paths, etc. I guessed I’d come out with a fresh sense of what I’m going to do once I walk off that stage, diploma in hand.

That was not the case. But I learned something far more valuable. Something I knew all along but could never really put into words. Something I could never fully explain to people who respond to “I’m an English major” with any sort of negative response that sounds a lot more like “What the hell are you gonna do with that degree?”

… my years in college have cultivated me, my character, my personal growth, and I have placed the value of my time and tuition in deeper meaning, in empathy, in hearing the stories of world to better understand LIFE.

When I first applied to Eastern Michigan, I declared Creative Writing as my major and later changed it to the Language, Literature, and Writing program. I found that even though I couldn’t put so much focus on exploratory, creative kinds of writing, I couldn’t get away from the English major. And why? I always explained it by saying, “Oh well I love to read–you know how much I love books–but I also love to write and I’m pretty good at it.” It’s true. I might have caved in a long time ago and turned to a more “sensible” degree if I had not had several fantastic professors encourage me the way they did.

Still the same question haunts me everywhere except in the safety of my English classes and the confidence of a few friends and family: “Are you going to read books for a living? What job will you have?” If the past couple weeks have taught me anything about the beauty of the Humanities it is this: my years in college have cultivated me, my character, my personal growth, and I have placed the value of my time and tuition in deeper meaning, in empathy, in hearing the stories of world to better understand LIFE.

I sit here wondering, how many people would read that and say “I’d never spend all that time and money just for that.” Maybe a lot of you wouldn’t. But I am here to say that I have absolutely no regrets.

I applaud the people out there who know exactly what they want to do, chase after it, and step from the university to their specific job. But I know that for me, it is the exact opposite. I am not going to school with a one-tract mind. I am a writer. And a writer can be everything. It doesn’t matter what I do when I first get out of school, or five, ten, thirty years afterwards. I will be making the world a better place, contributing to my community, advocating for justice, transforming all the theory I’ve learned, all the books I’ve read, all the papers I’ve written into defining and demonstrating the multi-faceted lens with which I see the world. If you think about it, it really boils down to empathy, and somehow I thought that I wasn’t special for possessing such a large store of it. But now I’ve realized that it is a gift I have, one that my journey as a Humanities major has only broadened and strengthened.

… they say that the Humanities have been “under attack” since the 16th century and we’ve not disappeared yet so there must be a reason why.

My colleagues in their presentations have pooled together a large store of doubts, questions, stats, and in the end these are the truths: STEM majors’ unemployment rates are not as significantly lower than Humanities’s as people make it out to be; not learning specific skills for specific fields broadens the range of possible employment opportunities; believing in the values of Humanities and persevering through the doubts of others will keep this kind of knowledge going; because last but not least, they say that the Humanities have been “under attack” since the 16th century and we’ve not disappeared yet so there must be a reason why.

However economically “worthless” they may seem, Humanities programs remind the rest of the world that there is so much more to life (and education!) than working yourself to the grave. I’ve realized that I’m not going to school to get a job. I’m going to school to round myself out in a way I couldn’t have otherwise, doing the things I love, learning about the world, and growing into the person I am and continually evolving to be.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Majoring in the Humanities?!!

  1. I study English Lit and Creative Writing and get this question all the bloody time. Why don’t people understand that by reading you learn everything? And that by reading you gain a standard of English incomparable to any other major? And that you become a kind of God when it comes to spellchecking and proofreading and those are skills required in every job so as to not sound like an idiot. And that with English as your background you can do basically anything? It’s so infuriating that people don’t understand the merits of studying Humanities subjects.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s so true. We can just read to learn about the civil war in the Balkans, about immigrants in America, about the realities of Native Americans, and on and on!! And you’re so right, if attentive enough, a lot of us do become fantastic proofreaders and editors. One thing my professor also said was that we should never have to feel like we have to apologize for our major or even have to explain ourselves, though certainly we should demonstrate our pride in what we do. The Humanities are invaluable.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s