A couple days ago, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Messiah’s Dean for the School of Humanities. I have the opportunity of sitting on his student advisory council, and sent him an email following our last meeting just discussing some ideas about recruiting for humanities.
It seems to me that the greatest reservation in being recruited in the humanities stems from the vagueness of the future for humanities majors. If you major in nursing, you know you will be a nurse. If you major in engineering, you know you will be an engineer. If you are a major in history/english/philosophy/etc., you have a blank canvas in front of you. While uncertainty scares some people, for those students who are well entrenched in the humanities, they see it as a door with endless potential.
Now comes the tricky part, communicating the blessings of a liberal arts degree to parents. Rightfully so, parents only want the best for their children. They want them to go to college to get a degree that will provide them a job. Unfortunately, society has recently adopted the policy of looking at the humanities and telling those students “Yes, I would like fries with that,” assuming that is the only direction we are headed in as we approach the future. They don’t realize that those of us within this school have learned skills — which I know I discuss frequently — that make us incredibly marketable candidates. We have the faculty of knowledge to learn and improve to provide employers what they need. We provide a moldable and teachable spirit.
People also need to know that studying the humanities is a lot of fun. Gone are the days of boring lectures, date memorization, dense reading with no discussion, and perpetually out of touch professors. At least at smaller schools, professors are getting more engaged with their students. They are trying to relate to them. They provide opportunities for students to spread their own scholarly thoughts on various issues. I can’t lie, sometimes the readings can be dull, but professors use those readings to build into a grand masterpiece of information — consider it like eating vegtables before you get your dessert.
I find it truly tragic that people are being discouraged from entering the humanities. As a student in them I realize I am bias, but I had consistent support from my family and I still do. They understand that the education I am getting will make me incredibly well rounded, due to the passion of my professors. I know that I can adapt to different job markets, and use my transferrable skills to make me a desirable candidate. This education is helping me reconcile and approach issues of humanity, thoughts, hopes, actions which at the end of the day I think will serve as one of the greatest benefits as I approach the future.
As a Junior in college, I am slowly approaching the canvas ahead of me. I have been coloring inside the lines the past few years, and now as I begin to make my way to “the real world” the lines are gone, the brush is in my hand. I know that the education I have been given will help me paint a great work, and I know that students who go into the humanities will develop skills to help them reach this point as well. Study the humanities, embrace the world.