What academic and career path might be best if these conditions apply to your teen?
Consider the Humanities!
Columbia, in the founding tradition of the oldest American colleges, requires that all students have a firm grounding in the Humanities. Columbia University’s Core Curriculum is a set of mandatory courses forming the foundation of the academic experience of every Columbia undergraduate. The University considers it essential to the education of all students regardless of their major.
The Humanities, as the term implies, is the study of the human condition from a number of perspectives. In the U.S., the academic fields that comprise the Humanities include:
Columbia’s Core Curriculum bucks a trend that began in the late 20th century in American education of reducing Humanities requirements to allow for more STEM courses since many people think that required courses in the Humanities, to the extent that they displace STEM courses, reduce the employability and income of graduates.
The factors that have driven students, often against their desire and best interests, away from the Humanities are exaggerated. In fact, the alleged abandonment of the Humanities is itself an exaggeration.
According to New York Times columnist Nate Silver, although the proportion of students graduating with degrees in the Humanities declined from 1970 to 1995, the percentage of all college-age Americans holding these degrees has actually increased—a discrepancy caused by the boom in college attendance after 1970.
Historically, the rationale for the founding of American colleges has not been to train students for a specialized career, but to expose undergraduates to a broad intellectual tradition necessary for leadership in the community, commerce, and the professions. Although this may now seem naïve and unrealistic in a society as technologically complex as ours, a major in the Humanities yields advantages.
The Humanities teach two vital competencies missing from a purely STEM or Business curriculum: precise communication and critical thinking, useful in jobs across multiple fields. In the Humanities, students learn to solve problems creatively and without bias, express themselves well, and adapt to new situations.
In our fast-changing economy, successful corporations don’t look for management candidates who know just one subject in great depth. They seek potential leaders who are innovative and creative, characteristics that closely fit Humanities graduates. The Association of American Colleges and Universities found that 93% of chief executives agreed that:
“… a demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than a job candidate’s undergraduate major.”
According to Time Magazine, over one-third of Fortune 500 CEOs are Humanities majors and the reason for this, even at high-tech companies, is that the liberal arts train students to see the forest, not just the trees, and that a big-picture orientation is vital to entrepreneurial and corporate leadership.
One measure often used against the Humanities compared to STEM fields is salary after graduation. According to the New York Times, however,
“…the top 25% of history and English majors earn more than the average major in science and math, while the bottom 25% of business majors make less than the bottom 25% of those majoring in government and public policy.”
The best jobs of the near future, some of which don’t even exist today, will go to those who can collaborate widely, think broadly, and challenge conventional wisdom – precisely the capacities developed through an education in the Humanities.
Conversations with a Blue Stars consultant will help teens recognize the right major for them!
We’re experts at what we do, and we can make choosing a major a much smoother and more productive process. Working with Blue Stars is an opportunity for you and your teen to get an expert opinion from an unbiased professional so you don’t need to rely entirely on family, friends, or an overburdened guidance counselor for advice.