A High School Junior On The Importance Of The Humanities

by Genevieve Schweitzer

Choosing what to study in college is one of the biggest decisions of my life. At least, it feels that way. I’m drawn to the arts and humanities, and I’m the only person in my friend group who is. When I asked one friend about her college plans, she told me that she was entering into computer science. “I would major in Spanish or English,” she said, “but I don’t want to end up homeless.”

She was kidding about that last part, but her idea of which careers guarantee success is representative of many high school students. I’ve observed that most of my peers see humanities subjects like language and history as dying out compared to jobs in STEM fields — like science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It’s awesome that STEM is more welcoming of girls like my friend, as we’ve been underrepresented in the field for so long. But I wish the promotion of STEM didn’t come at the expense of other fields. 

Because to me, the humanities are just as valuable as STEM. Whether you’re a bus driver or an engineer, everyone needs the skills that come with humanities subjects, like communication, creativity, and critical thinking. The current pandemic seems like a perfect example of this. The ability to understand history is especially relevant with researchers looking back at the 1918 flu pandemic to better understand how we can fight the spread of Covid-19 today.

A degree in arts and humanities will equip me with skills that I can apply to learn from our past and make a difference in the world. Wherever my path takes me, I want to be encouraged to study what I am passionate about: language, history and social justice. And I hope other students can realize that if you do what you love, you will find a place where you are needed.