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Are English Majors Doomed?

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student asleep at computer

With the economy still sluggish and computer science majors in demand, some college students are rethinking that humanities major they’d hoped to earn, says The Wall Street Journal:

Humanities majors at Harvard fell to 20% in 2012 from 36% in 1954. And the trends are similar at colleges across the country. Meanwhile, more incoming freshman are opting out of so-called softer subjects, placing their bets on STEM (science-technology-engineering-math) majors instead.

Harvard sophomore Shannon Lytle considered majoring in history but will opt for computer science instead. “We do have to worry about living after graduation. I don’t want to be doing what I love and be homeless,” he told the Journal.

But is his fear warranted?

Certainly the numbers aren’t encouraging. Among recent college graduates nationwide, who majored in English, the unemployment rate was 9.8%. By comparison, recent chemistry graduates were unemployed at a rate of just 5.8%, according to a June report from the Georgetown Public Policy Institute which used data from 2010 and 2011.

The cool thing about this piece is the Journal didn’t stop there. Rather than write one article about how some students are rethinking humanities majors — and others are wondering whether they should be — the Journal offers an entire series of opinion pieces on this topic, including Education Isn’t Just About Getting a Job and Choose a Humanities Major, But Minor in Math.

Whether you’re a college student trying to choose your own major or a recent graduate who’s wondering whether you made the right decision, this is an interesting conversation. Here’s where you can browse all of the Journal’s recent articles on Debating the English Major.

And if you still want more, here are a few Brazen posts on this topic:

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  • Jacques Rigaut

    The humanities teach you how to think and reason. Unfortunately, employers do not want thinking/reasoning beings to fill their jobs. They want robots. So, yes: doomed.

    • Daniel

      Hahaha. Think? Humanities is just history and common sense. You can learn that at home, but can you do chemistry, bio, physics labs at home……. Answer is NO

      • truefaith00

        Something tells me that you’ve never taken an advanced humanities course.