Here’s something you hear pretty often. “That guy majored in history – no wonder he’s at McDonald’s now!” “What do you expect from a humanities major?” There is a huge stigma against majoring in liberal arts and humanities in today’s society. Especially with the rise of advancements in technology and the rise of tuition across the nation, there’s undoubtedly more value given to majors that are more technical.
However, this has led to non-STEM majors feeling ridiculed by arrogant students in STEM thinking they’re guaranteed 6 figure salaries (spoiler: they’re not). The divide is, in my opinion, due to the lack of career information in colleges. A biology student may know they want to go to medical school and become a doctor. What kind of doctor, they can figure out later. An economics student (considered liberal arts by some, but a clear social science) on the other hand, is not given a clear straight path. They may work in the government or at a think tank continuing onto researching economics, or go into financial services and insurance. An art history student may become a researcher or a curator, yet those career options aren’t very recognized in our society because today’s value is in how much money you can bring in. People are quick to judge someone’s path without doing much research on what they criticize. In fact, I’m sure many of you did not realize that patent attorney’s need to acquire a science degree to take their exam.
While I will say there is a career path for every major, that doesn’t mean there is much demand. There are more tech internships than museum curator openings, and there are more jobs for pharmacists than full-time graphic designers. There is definitely much more of a struggle in finding a job in the humanities, so if you are not good at networking or very hardworking, it may not be wise to go into student debt to study. It is an unfortunate truth of America that getting a degree for fun may land you in permanent debt.
If you are passionate about a major in the humanities/liberal arts, do your research! Talk to alumni who majored in your area of interest, your professors, and graduate students. One of the best things you can do is actually do a mock job search. Go onto a site like Indeed and search up entry level jobs and internships. Are there internships for sophomores or juniors for you to gain experience in the field and build your resume? Are entry-level positions really entry level, or do they require a few years of experience? Can you start work after undergraduate school, or is this a field that wants a minimum of graduate school? How many options are in your area, compared to the number of students in your major class?
With the right preparation, a student can absolutely succeed in liberal arts and humanities. It is about the effort in doing your research and building your network.