Humanities ≠ Jobs… what?

When I was choosing my major I figured I should major in something that would help me land a job.

I was pretty short-sighted and didn’t quite understand what that meant but I figured there were some majors that either didn’t get jobs or that got very low-paying jobs.

I ultimately chose to get a degree in business with an emphasis in Computer Information Systems.  The only other alternative I seriously considered was an emphasis in accounting, but I had ZERO intention of going that route.

Armed with my BA in CIS I was ready to meet the professional world.  Of course, I had an education complex so I eventually got my MBA also, and was sure I was on the path to serious job security!!

I would look at other majors, namely humanities, and think “good luck, but seriously, didn’t you realize you were putting yourself at a disadvantage?”

Yes, short-sighted, I know.  I realize different, now, but back then that’s what I thought.

Okay, that’s a long intro for such a short point… I recently came across an awesome, amazing blog for humanities majors. This is written by Scott Sprenger, the Associate Dean at BYU, and is called Humanities+ (or, Humanities Plus).  Here’s the description on what the PLUS means:

To provide ideas and resources for bridging the traditional humanities major to the professional work world.

Which is different if you put the PLUS before Humanities, like this:

To provide students in business, social science, engineering, pre-law, etc., with reasons and strategies for enriching vocational training with skills provided by the Humanities.

Summing it up:

Whether it’s H+ or +H, the Humanities should play an important role in everybody’s education.

I LOVE that… very clever, very thoughtful. Beyond that, though, I’ve skimmed through a number of Scott’s posts and they are very high-value for a Humanities type.

Go check it out – and Scott, excellent job!

5 thoughts on “Humanities ≠ Jobs… what?”

  1. I remember asking my adviser in my first semester if I should major in something useful, like economics. And he told me, if you don’t love it, don’t waste four years of your life being miserable. So I majored in History. Humanities, whatever your topic, give you a great set of skills: research, organization, communication, and best of all, critical thinking. Very few people have ever asked me in a job interview about whether I learned anything job-related for my history degree.

  2. thanks for the comment Kate. Looking back on it now I kind of wish I would have gotten a degree in history or writing (enjoy both), or maybe math for the challenge (would have been hard).

    The thing about humanities is it gives you such an interesting perspective on things, as well as research and writing abilities that perhaps you don’t get from other degrees.

    I’ve realized that education should be lifelong. I learned about 5% of what I think I should have learned from my CIS degree which means I can spend the rest of my life reading and learning about it… just the same as I can read and learn from classics, etc. Education shouldn’t stop when the degree is earned, right?

    Anyway, I’m getting off-topic on something but my main point is, I now think a humanities degree is a great option… and thanks to Scott for developing this blog to help it tie more tangibly into career options.

  3. Hi Jason, since I just finished a Law School Admission resume this morning with a delightful 21 year old client who is getting her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, this was interesting. My own major – was Sociology, Pre-Law but I never quite finished and life took me in a totally different direction. I think many traditional students have no clue where they are going or end up changing majors many times. Life takes you on a different journey often or you follow a career path and realize years later that you hate it.

    Non-traditional students who know what path they might like because of life experience often benefit more from college, so humanities would have value for the traditional college student who is looking for a direction and strategies from which they can continue learning.

    If that makes any sense.

  4. Hi, Jason — Thanks for posting that link!

    When I was still in academia, I had many conversations with students and my fellow professors about exactly this topic. I always wished that more humanities departments (as distinct from the humanities) were better about making these connections.

    A great number of my students were ahead of the faculty curve on this — I worked with many who were double-majoring, and who had the idea of combining the kinds of conceptual and analytical strengths of the humanities with the more specific subject matter expertise of a professional or technical major. English/Political Science, English/Math, English/Business…


  5. In my career, I’ve noticed a trend of Humanities majors going on to get a Masters in Library Science (or Information Science). Unfortunately, a huge discussion in the profession at this time is the glut of just-out-of-grad-school applicants for every Library position requiring that degree.

    On the other hand, over a decade ago a friend’s college graduating class put the following on their tshirts – “I just earned a Bachelors Degree from the College of Liberal Arts – would you like fries with that?”

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