Finding value in the humanities

April 2, 2013

Careful financial planning for college is a smart approach to higher education. Prospective students, with either financial aid or a scholarship for college, will want a degree that will also have financial value in the future.

Technical majors, such as engineering and computer science, have the highest success rates amongst graduates, according to a 2011 Georgetown University study. In light of this trend, career-minded students may wonder if success is still possible when studying in the humanities. 

Advantages to a technical degree
Statistics show that those who major in a technical field are more likely to get a high paying job after college. For some, especially those concerned about money for college, this fact alone is enough to invest in such degrees.

A recent Time Magazine report discussed the struggle humanities studies face. In addition to the job market success possible with a technical degree, financial advantages are popping up for students who decide to study in these fields.

Florida, according to Time, has asked its state schools to charge students choosing technical fields less tuition than those who pick a humanities degree.

Despite this, there may still be advantages to getting a degree in English, history or another humanities-based field.

Humanities have value
Studies may suggest that technical areas of study are best for finding a job after school. However, according to many education experts, there is still a lot of value in getting a degree such as English or philosophy. 

"Being able to read things critically and then being able to articulate how you can change things going forward and assess things, the ability to work in teams - those skills are important everywhere," said Ed Ray, president of Oregon State University, as quoted by Time.

Those hoping to be successful may gain skills through studying the humanities that technical fields do not emphasize. For example, math and science degree programs often lack extensive training in analytical writing.

"If you talk to people who run companies that hire engineers, they will tell you, 'I need an engineer who can write,'" said Ray. 

Besides these skills, according to University of Michigan-Dearborn philosophy professor Daniel Little, a degree in the humanities provides a certain grounding for the social dimension of the workplace.

"[The study of humanities] helps students gain the intellectual and emotional skills they need to understand the human realities they engage with," Little wrote in a 2012 Huffington Post blog post. 

Though pursuing a degree in engineering may give a students better prospects career-wise, the value of humanities should not be entirely overlooked. 

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