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Scholar Opinion: Keep Your Options Open

This piece is part of a series focused on the ongoing debate about the relevance of humanities majors in today’s job market. See recent opinion pieces about this topic here and here.

One of the scariest parts about the college process/entering college is the major selection process. I didn’t know what my major was going to be until I left high school. There were a lot of reasons, like hearing about the difficulty of a certain major, the fun of a major, people’s experience within a major, or even how your high school courses prepared you for a major. I could have taken AP and IB courses in high school, but I saved myself the stress and stuck with Honors classes. Looking back at it now, I wish I had taken a couple of AP and/or IB courses because although they are stressful, they can prepare you for college extremely well. When I made friends in college, I always asked them what courses they took in high school and they all said that they took AP courses and classes that aligned perfectly with their major. I feel like not taking AP and IB courses kept me from knowing what I wanted to study in college. I had ideas about careers in healthcare, science, or tech, but I just could not put a finger on what I actually wanted to study for four years.

While choosing my major at Georgetown University, there wasn’t a wide range of major selections. Most were in the Humanities, which is something I never wanted to invest myself in. Humanities has a bad look in my eyes because of how my high school teachers taught the subjects. I had five Humanities-based Honors courses: English Survey; African American Literature; World Literature; British Literature; and Politics. Out of these courses, only English Survey allowed me to see just how complex the topic was. The others felt like I was just in a class for 50 minutes; I didn’t feel like I was genuinely learning anything, even if I tried. The classes felt dull and led me to see Humanities as boring, not creative, and too straightforward.

Because of this, I avoided Humanities majors. But I talked to my British Literature teacher, and she told me something that I never really thought about before: “People usually think Humanities is a boring thing, but it’s only a boring thing if you’re not creative or your teacher isn’t creative. If you can find joy in the realm of Humanities, then Humanities might be the place where you want to study because it brings out your creativity. It’s not just reading books and underlining sentences, it’s another world of art and creativity.”

This conversation made me think back to when I took my English Survey class. I felt like I was able to learn a lot more by simply being allowed to create. This made me dive deeper into the realm of Humanities majors, even if my comfortability within other subjects made me choose a science major (Kinesiology) over a Humanities major.

If you’re in high school and thinking about a major to pursue in college, please take the proper courses for it and allow yourself to think outside of the box about what major you might want to pursue. Humanities is a great area of major selections, because of its creativity and how deep and complex some of the majors are. If you have a chance to take a high-level course in something, take the risk and try it out. You never know how it can shape your view on what you want to study in the future. If I had another chance to choose a major in my college process, it would be Humanities.