Your major defines you in college. As much as some try to defy the stereotype, the subject that you choose to study doesn't just consume your course list. It consumes your identity. If you study political science, you're argumentative and self-righteous. Psychology majors are trying to figure out themselves. Engineering majors are smart but have no social skills. However, at least people recognize that this isn't the whole story; they know that these are merely stereotypes.
The same cannot be said about the most pervasive college myth of today: that humanities majors are wasting their time.
The economy is not doing stellar. Millennials are projected to be the first generation to do worse than our parents since we earn 20% less than baby boomers did when they were our age. It's no wonder that our mentors are pressuring us to pick a major that has career stability. STEM skills are in high demand right now, whereas career prospects for many humanities majors are limited.
If you're anything like me, these pressures were constantly on your mind throughout college. I was lucky enough to be good at STEM subjects, but unfortunate enough that my passion lied in liberal arts. Looking back, I wish that I hadn't stressed so much about rejecting the STEM path. Yes, adjusting to life after college can be a little bumpy, but it would've been that way regardless. Trust me, if you're pursuing a liberal arts major and get a little queasy at the thought of graduation, you'll be okay. That's because…
You Clearly Don’t Want to Work in a STEM Field Anyway
Look, the vast thing about being a STEM major is that they provide you with a pretty set career path. Majoring in Chemistry? You can be a chemist, a lab researcher, a doctor, etc. How about Computer Science? You could work in IT, software development, or cyber security. And Engineering majors have it the easiest of all. Majoring in civil engineering qualifies you to become a civil engineer, structural engineering leads to becoming a structural engineer, and chemical engineering majors usually become chemical engineers. Sensing some repetition here?
This is great if you want to become one of those things. It provides you with an excellent pathway toward achieving your goals. However, if you don’t want to be an engineer, why would you major in engineering? If you don't want to work with numbers every day, why would you major in math? People who hate on humanities often see college as a place to prepare for the workforce, and nothing more. Well, why would you prepare for a workforce you don’t want to be a part of?
You Can Still Get a Job
First of all, you don’t have to have a STEM degree to get a job in many well-known rising fields: software development, medicine, and even green energy. So, in the worst-case scenario, you graduate with your medieval art history degree and fear that the only place that will hire you is McDonald's. However, you'll still be able to get a job in tech or healthcare without a specialized four-year degree. Your future is not doomed.
Second, even humanities majors have successful careers! The soft skills that they developed are most valued by employers. Skills like critical thinking, effective communication, and thorough researching are versatile tickets to many jobs. Soft skills are harder to teach, so if you don’t display them right out of the gate, potential employers don’t want to waste their time.
Consider that there aren’t even majors for many jobs. It’s not as if being an event planner, an administrative assistant, or an entrepreneur requires a degree, but all of these positions can certainly benefit from a humanities background.
Furthermore, several traditional humanities fields have major-relevant positions that are growing. Psychology, social work, and criminal justice all have jobs that are growing. Do your research, and you'll be able to find a job in your field. It might not be what you pictured, but you can find work doing some aspect of what you love.
You Pursued Your Passion!
You showed a bravery that not everyone is capable of. Facing an uncertain future isn't something that everyone can handle. But you recognized that college doesn't just have to be for vocational purposes. You can find yourself, set your priorities straight, and figure out what it is you want to do. Because let's be honest, most of us didn't know at 18 when we were picking our first major anyway.
The self-confidence required to pursue your passion when others are advising you otherwise is exactly the quality that successful entrepreneurs have. Starting your own business requires a high degree of risk-taking, and to ever make that a rational decision, you've got to believe that you have what it takes to be successful. And turning your passion into a business has never been easier—e-commerce has turned selling your art directly into a viable possibility so that artists can keep the 50 percent that is usually reserved for curators. Others have turned to self-publishing, whether it's novels, poetry, or even music. Turning your passion into a business is easier than it's ever been.
There are several reasons to select a liberal arts major, but the most important one is that you are interested in what you're studying. If you're going to spend all that time and money, you might as well enjoy the ride, right? What's more, you're not graduating empty-handed; soft skills are nothing to scoff. Humanities majors might not have a particular path in front of them, but that doesn't mean that they're on the wrong one.