Humanities majors are not confined to the ivory tower

Marley Parish, Staff Writer

People whose academic field is outside of the humanities do not realize the value and skills that come with majoring in a humanity.

English teaches us about understanding people all while experiencing adventures that expose us to the many complexities of the human world, about which we would otherwise have no idea.

Students who major in English are frequently subjected to the question of whether they are planning on becoming a teacher. They are warned and encouraged to have a backup plan and constantly reminded that they are not going to make much money if they simply major in a language.

As an English major, I have grown numb to the series of questions and lectures that follow after I confess what I am studying. I have come to expect the negative attitude that surrounds my major.

Sometimes, it is so easy to feel the projected stereotypes: English majors are not good at math and have it so easy in school. English majors want nothing more than to be published and become the next John Green or E.L. James.

The skills acquired by studying English are endless and extremely useful, not only in the workplace, but in everyday life.

Take the time to seriously consider what the mental exercises of analyzing a sentence and interpreting a five second encounter entail. These capabilities may seem useless, but the real life skills that are taught in the process of literary analysis bring a lot to the table.

Communication skills are acquired through humanity majors. English majors learn to speak well; they are well-read and have a highly extensive vocabulary. They have learned how to present a thesis, how to construct an argument and are able to defend their point of views logically and coherently.

A Metlife survey showed that 97 percent of business executives rate writing skills as very important. English majors are trained to write well. Gaining clients is a crucial part of a successful business. Whether through advertisements or marketing brochures, writing is a valuable skill to have in every workplace.

English majors are trained in conducting extensive and accurate research. Business owners need to keep up to date on changes and developments in their field, and having someone who excels in conducting research is a key asset to have on any staff.

English majors are trained to analyze others and understand how they think and feel. A study conducted by the University of Toronto shows that people who read fiction frequently have higher levels of cognitive empathy. Being able to empathize with customers, business associates and all people in general helps enhance relationships. English majors are able to understand people in a way that not many others can.

I am never amazed at how many people ask how I plan to use my English degree, why I want to be an English major or how many times people have asked if I am pre-law, as if that will somehow justify “what” I am. I do not have to be set on a pre-law track to gain valuable skills.

I did not settle for English. I love what I study. I boast and take pride in the fact that I genuinely know what my passion is. In a world where instant gratification is all the rage and ladder-climbing is seen as an absolute necessity in order to be successful, many students do not consider pursuing a career in a field that they genuinely love.

No major endows one with superiority and the right to make judgements. There is true value in a humanities major, and the bad rap that surrounds them needs to end.