Students of the humanities shouldn’t feel shame


Brian Bauer

Columnist Matt argues for the value of humanities in a world where the choice to pursue a degree in humanities is senselessly undervalued.

By Krystyna Serhijchuk, Columnist

recently did something I joked about doing when I was an 18-year-old senior in high school. With my then-newfound adult privilege, I was ready to get a stupid little tattoo as a rite of passage.

I decided against getting my original tattoo idea back then, and instead got an even dumber (easily concealed) tattoo. But that’s beside the point.

About three years later, I finally made my youthful, facetious tattoo idea a reality. I got the words “Times New Roman” tattooed on my inner upper arm, in the Times New Roman font.

At 18, I thought it would be sort of slick and ironic of me to get these words tattooed. I was finally graduating high school and moving on to college; I’d be paying homage to my education in a not-so-serious way. I was already committed to the University as an English major at this point, so I’d also be paying homage to my future focus on literature.

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At 21, I got this tattoo to solidify my choice to pursue the humanities, or more specifically, English literature. It pays homage to my love-hate relationship with writing, words and my major. It also connects me to a younger version of myself.

I’ve questioned my choice to study English countless times, which has lead me to consider switching majors often. Every humanities and arts major can relate to being interrogated about his or her future available career opportunities after college.

I’ve felt borderline shame and embarrassment announcing my major while introducing myself to people at parties and on-campus events. This is especially true when the person on the other side of the conversation proclaims to be an aerospace engineering major or something of that sort. I would secretly internally sulk in envy a bit every time.

Part of this embarrassment stems from attending such a research-intensive university with one of the top-ranked engineering colleges. And although it’s taken me a little while to come to terms with my educational choices, I no longer regret my major or mope around complaining about feelings of inadequacies.

In the past, I’ve felt selfish for studying something I enjoy — something sometimes deemed “easy” and an “unaffordable luxury.” But no one should think this way about his or her humanities education.

There are countless benefits, especially when you supplement your liberal arts major with in-demand skills. Many college students and graduates are surprisingly deficient in writing skills, cultural comprehension and historical knowledge.

As a humanities major, you have a leg up in these regards.

Other gains include learning to actually deal with people, or explain and sell complex ideas. Emotional intelligence and analytical skills are also benefits.

These majors are also flexible: Someone majoring in English could eventually end up working in technology or something seemingly unrelated. For example, former IBM CEO Sam Palmisano was an English major, while American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault was a history major. And there are countless other examples.

In addition, the unemployment rates for humanities majors aren’t as bad as they’re rumored to be.

According to Business Insider, “The average unemployment rate for new graduates across all of the humanities is 9 percent, right on par with computer science and math (9.1 percent) and not too far off all majors combined (7.9 percent).”

In reality, the world needs math and science-oriented minds as much as they need the minds of those majoring in the liberal arts. Humanities majors: You are still needed. The world would fall apart without you.

Krystyna is a junior in English.
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