Context Blog – The Wall Street Journal: Are Humanities Degrees Doomed? Experts Weigh In.

Out of all of the articles I found and posted to our class Pinterest board the one that stood out the most to me was from The Wall Street Journal. Although a lot of the articles I posted covered similar topics discussing why different degrees in the humanities can land you a job in an area that you may not realize would be looking for someone with a humanities degree and the different job options that individuals graduating with a humanities degree may not realize are out there, this article in particular, Are Humanities Degrees Doomed? Experts Weigh In, includes seven different perspectives from professionals in all different fields giving their honest opinion on the topic. I think what stood out to me as a common theme presented throughout this article was the idea that it isn’t always the title of the major that lands you the job, but the skills that you have learned and mastered within that major. Mark Bertonlini, CEO and president of Aetna, says it in his commentary when he states “the major I am less concerned about; it’s the set of skills that people come into work with.” This statement in particular and the theme of skill sets as a whole is incredibly eye opening to me. As a student studying English, it is easy to get lost in the notion that academia or publishing are the only routes to go after graduation. Although Education is my primary interest for my future career and the reason I made the decision to major in English, it is nice to realize that if that doesn’t work out, there are and will be other options. I feel that although as human beings we tend to put others into groups and identify ourselves in  particular groups that we may have trouble escaping, that we should not limit others to groups or limit ourselves to groups especially when we are entering the job force. This is something that I am now finally realizing. Just because you have a degree in business and I have a degree in English, doesn’t mean I am any less capable in the job force. We may have different qualifications and skill sets, but that doesn’t limit us to particular fields. And frankly, I am coming to realize that our degrees don’t always clearly define our skill sets. Just because my degree says a “BA in English”, doesn’t mean I am not secretly a math whiz. And vice versa. Just because someone majored in business, doesn’t mean that they lack the creativity and critical thinking that we tag onto humanities majors. They could be going home every night and reading classics!

Most of the experts that gave their opinions in this article followed the same theme, reiterating that our major doesn’t define us as much as our skills do. Many of them even stressed the importance of humanities majors in our society. Robert Matz, chair of the George Mason English Department sates that “if every student were to follow this advice (referring to getting a degree in STEM), there would be too few jobs in STEM to support them.” This is so true. Our country thrives off of it’s diversity. How could we ever survive as an economic system if we all had the same exact skills and pursued the same career? The stigma attached to the humanities degree being an unimportant one is just that, a stigma. The job market is tough no matter what you have a degree in. Reading this article has made me feel incredibly glad that I chose the degree path that I did and also has made me realize that I am not limited to my degree. Hearing professionals with experience in the job force speak out on this conversation was very helpful.

 

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