What are you even going to do with your degree? You’re going to law school after college, right? Do your parents actually support you?
These, and more, are questions that I hear almost daily once I tell people that I study English and Religion. And to be honest, they’re all questions that I’ve asked myself during a nervous breakdown or two. But after two and a half years of college, I can confidently say that I would not trade my Humanities degree for anything!
At a school like Emory, it can feel like the world is simply divided into pre-med and business, and the rest of us are just what’s left. This divide is made clear even in the buildings themselves; compare the New Psych Building to Callaway and you’ll see where the money at Emory goes. Sometimes it feels as if our institution is dividing us into lunchroom cliques and making us argue over who’s better. But something that we all need to remind ourselves is that no degree is inherently better or worse; there’s no food chain that says Chem is at the top and History is at the bottom. And it wasn’t pre-destination that made you a QSS major, you chose it for yourself. So why do we then place so much value and meaning into this one choice?
Every major comes with it’s own list of assumptions and generalizations that are made the second we hear someone mention it. You might think that being a Humanities major is easy simply because we don’t have 3-hour labs every week. But in the Humanities, we are literally learning about what makes us human and what it means to have humanity. It may seem easy to read and write, but once you have to read a 600-page novel while simultaneously writing a 15-page paper you’ll realize it’s not a skill that everyone has. And not everyone can work in a lab or learn computer programming either! People forget that the whole purpose of college is to find what you’re good at and passionate about, and it’s not going to be the same for everyone.
People like to devalue my degree because there’s not necessarily a clear career path. But guess what? My English degree has value simply from that fact that I’ve worked my ass off to get it! The problem with our society, and especially with college, is that we determine value based solely on the things we can measure. What was your GPA? What internship did you get? What was your starting salary? All of these things may be important, but they aren’t everything. If every single person only aimed for the careers where they could make the most money, we would really be lacking in diversity and happiness. Sometimes I question whether I should have gone to the Business School or Nursing School, but I know myself, and I know that I would’ve hated it. And it might sound naïve to say we should all do the thing we love, but I think passion should definitely be a factor, and an important one!
So, whether you get a BA, BS, BBA, BSN, or any other combination of letters, your degree is valuable! I may not know what the Dow Jones is on any given day, but I can explain to you how Reformation England redefined British theater. And while one of those may seem more applicable to daily life, both are pieces of knowledge that have value. So next time someone asks what your major is, be sure to say it with pride, because we’ve all worked too hard to be anything less than proud!
Delaney Sheldon 21C
Peachtree City, GA
This article was originally published on the Odyssey website. It has been republished here in-full with the author’s permission. Read the original article by visiting: https://www.hercampus.com/school/emory/my-humanities-degree-valid
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