Did you know J.K. Rowling studied French and Classics? Wikipedia Founder Larry Sanger holds a PhD in philosophy? Or YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has a bachelor’s degree in History and Literature?
Contrary to popular belief, humanities students (that is philosophy, literature, language, religion, art, or history students) can become more than teachers. In fact, it’s possible for them to make a career in business and, as the cases above demonstrate, even shape whole industries (If you’re interested, here’s a full list of famous humanities graduates). But what is it that makes the humanities different? What are the benefits of studying in the disciplines and what skills can you acquire?
Here are 7 reasons why you should consider graduating in the humanities:
1. You Develop Analytical/ Critical Thinking Skills
Fact is, as humanities student you’ll spend an awful lot of time writing essays and conducting research. For every essay you write, you need to carefully analyse your primary sources, grapple with scholarly articles and books discussing your sources and, on that basis, develop a thesis statement and argumentation. In the end, you’ll be able to recognize the significance of any given text, critically weight up arguments and give reasons in support of your particular viewpoint.
This is certainly one of the biggest advantages humanities students have over students in other disciplines. I’ve talked to business and biology students who struggled immensely with writing their bachelor’s thesis as this has been the first longer paper they had to compose. As humanities student, writing and analyzing is your daily business, so it’ll naturally come easier to you.
2. You Become a Better Writer and Communicator
As humanities student, you’ll have to do a lot of persuasive writing, that is, writing meant to convince the reader of your particular viewpoint. To become a persuasive writer, you need to learn how to express yourself clearly, concisely and logically. You need to explain what your stance on an issue is and why it’s both justified and relevant. Whether it’s in a 500-word essay or 50-page dissertation, you’ll learn how to make every word count!
Did you know: According to a research on LinkedIn, the second most sought-after job skill for 2019 is persuasion. So, you should be perfectly prepared!
3. You Become a Better Reader
As humanities student, you’ll read a lot. And by “a lot” I mean not only fun literary texts, but a lot of complicated theoretical texts. Because you simply don’t have the time to re-read every text 10 times, you become a much more efficient reader. You learn how to read texts more critically, filter the most important information from them and summarize them cohesively. Isn’t that a valuable skill?
4. You Learn to Work Independently
In a lot of humanities subjects, you don’t have many contact hours. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to work as much as students of other disciplines. You’re expected to read your books and articles, write your essays and prepare presentations beyond your weekly lectures and seminars. No one’s going to remind you of your next submission date—you need to learn how to organize yourself well. Self-study is the key to success.
5. You Become More Open-Minded
If you’re studying literature or culture, you’ll begin to see things from different perspectives. You understand why people in different societies or cultures act a certain way in certain situations. In a world as globalized as ours, it’s important to possess such social and intercultural skills—the ability to understand and effectively communicate with people from various sociocultural backgrounds.
7. You’re Surrounded by People Who Are Keen to Learn
Most of the humanities students I meet are passionate about their subject. I find most of them are keen to learn, creative and highly motivated. In this atmosphere, you can’t help but feel motivated, inspired and creative yourself!
In the end, studying the humanities is more than reading Shakespeare, philosophize on life, or examine relics from the Stone Age. It’s the skills you acquire while you’re doing all of this that make the disciplines, at least for me, so attractive.
What are or have you been studying? If you’re studying in the humanities, would you agree with my points or add anything? Let me know in the comment section below!