I’m the first person to yell, “Shut the hell up!” to people who say any form of learning is useless because there really isn’t such a thing. Learning everything from how to tie your shoes to calculus to the rules of beer pong shape your outlook on life. Don’t get it twisted: learning is one of the greatest demonstrations of self-respect because you improve yourself and the effect you have on the world. However, in the realm of moneymaking and “life experience necessary” jobs, most of your majors probably are very useless.
Some of the majors that come to mind are Philosophy, English, Political Science, Languages, Journalism… the list goes on and on. These majors all have one thing in common: they are theory based. If you’re an English major, your profs are discussing Shakespeare with you. Can you quote Shakespeare during a job interview? Not unless you are interviewing for a position as a Shakespeare teacher. If you major in one of the “useless” topics, you are not directly being taught the hands-on realities of the workforce: how to properly converse with clients, or how to create an invoice. Some people finish their undergrad without ever having seen a spreadsheet – which is both amazing but also slightly fearful (spreadsheets are pretty important in the world of business).
Don’t despair, Classics majors and History majors alike! I have good news! First off, you get to have the best time ever at school. You have the opportunity to become a cultured, worldly individual at the hands of academia’s elite by reading, writing and talking. When you aren’t discussing sociological theories of crime, you can join a club (or four), you can play sports and you can meet people. With your seemingly abstract class subjects, it is easy for you to slide in and out of social life. Sometimes the topic of lecture that day is also the topic of conversation that night on your drunken cab ride home.
Not only this, but you will leave your undergraduate degree with so much more than a degree, even if it isn’t immediately reflected in your starting salary or your difficulty finding employment. The notion of “doing what makes you happy” that is so rarely associated with the traditional motives for getting a college degree actually leave you with a huge toolbox of abilities. Critical thinking and problem solving are arguably two of the most invaluable benefits of a humanities degree.
Regardless of the fact that when you apply for that summer internship in your second year you will have absolutely zero experience, you are entirely qualified for the position. Forget about what you put down on paper – it’s the person you are and the work that you do that counts. Once one person takes a chance on you, your resume will build and you will thrive. You will most likely not become a perma-Starbucks barista who lives off of ramen, though there is nothing wrong with that either.
Remember, a “useless” college major does not mean you’re going to grow up to be a “useless” individual. For some proof that money does not accurately represent professional success, here are some very successful people with humanities degrees: J.k. Rowling (French and Classics), Steven Spielberg (English) and the co-founder of Flickr Steward Butterfield (Philosophy).
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