OPINION: Man frowns upon huMANities

Shayla Lee Colon

At a time when society is turning its tide, some old-fashioned values are fading and art is slowly losing its prestige. Today, the idea of having a humanities major is a laughing stock to some. But go ahead and laugh, because the joke is on you.

In recent years, the liberal arts degree has been under the microscope as critics say the humanities are in crisis and that it has fallen out of favor.

Critics have been wrongly led to believe this because of significant budget cuts to liberal arts programs all across the country and because of the idea that a profession in any of these fields will sentence someone to an impoverished life.

On several occasions, I have found myself face to face with a critic of the liberal arts degree. This person outright told me that a liberal arts major is useless.

However, I myself am in the midst of my liberal arts degree pursuit and have to say it is extremely valuable. Majoring in English, I’ve been able to cultivate a skill set that allows me to persevere in any other classes I take outside of my major.

In my business courses, I am able to apply the critical thinking skills I have developed to solve problems. In addition to that, having a better knowledge of language and words takes me even further.

But, what sense does it make to argue that a lack of funding means that humanities is no longer important? And, for those who idolize money, well, news flash: money doesn’t make the world go around.

What makes the world go round and always has, are the arts of communication and teaching, two things that would not even exist without the liberal arts degree. The truth of the matter is that a humanities major is needed now more than ever.

Here is some clarification for all those out there who frown upon a liberal arts degree. Fact number one, liberal arts graduates have a long track record of long-lived success.

Studies from the Association of American Colleges and Universities have shown that earnings gaps have been closed by liberal arts majors. What’s more, on average, liberal arts professions make approximately $2,000 more annually at their peak earning ages compared to the overall average. That also goes without mentioning that unemployment rates are low and decline over time for those graduates.

And why is it that liberal arts graduates get to indulge in long-term success?

Pursuing a humanities discipline supplies graduates with a practical and versatile skill set that employers love.

Having a liberal arts degree provides one with qualities like being adaptable, detail-oriented, as well as a strong work ethic, according to a 2006 survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Furthermore, it builds character, communication skills, a better awareness of society and critical thinking skills.

As a matter of fact, some of the nation’s top CEOs graduated college with a liberal arts degree. Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube, has a bachelor’s in history and literature. Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks has a communications degree.

Let’s not forget the CEO who brought thousands happiness at the Walt Disney Company, Michael Eisner. Guess what, folks? Eisner has a degree in English literature and theatre. And the list just goes on and on.

If you can remember a teacher who taught you how to spell, or a quote that you have chosen to live by, then recognize the human in humanities.