By Cresonia Hsieh
Freshman, Journalism Major
It seems to be the trend in America to emphasize the importance of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) majors and devalue the significance of non-STEM/ humanities majors. These sentiments are being felt especially among Florida post-secondary institutions because of Governor Rick Scott’s recent proposal to raise the tuition of non-STEM majors while reducing the tuition of STEM majors.
Though majoring in STEM is certainly a well-regarded and fine concentration to pursue, students also need to know that it is okay to pursue their dreams – even if it means pursuing a liberal arts major. Here’s why:
You are smart.
According to a study by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, 95 percent of employers say a “candidate’s demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than their undergraduate major.” All of these skills are taught in the humanities.
As a liberal arts major, you can read and write well. Your comprehension skills allow you not only to understand others, but also to communicate with others well. You understand a lot about the world and about humanity in a way that many others do not. These skill sets allow you to relate and empathize in a manner that many companies value.
You will join the leagues of many successful people.
Regardless of what parents or peers tell you, a report from Business Insider notes that many successful leaders in business and technology studied a non-STEM major in college. This list includes, but is not limited to: former Massachusetts governor, presidential nominee, and businessman Mitt Romney (English); Michael Eisner of Disney (English and Theater); Peter Thiel of PayPal (Philosophy); Ken Chenault of American Express (History); Ted Turner of CNN (History); and former IBM CEO Sam Palmisano (History).
Businesses and graduate schools will want you.
Companies highly value a person who can persuade, comprehend, communicate, and think critically. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, values reading so much so that he begins all senior executive meetings by sitting in total silence for thirty minutes just to read memos. Bracken Darrel, CEO of Logitech, told one business magazine, “I love hiring English majors!” Steve Jobs, the late CEO of Apple, is also quoted with saying, “It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing.”
Even prestigious business schools are realizing the worth of a non-STEM major. In Stanford University’s School of Business, humanities majors made up a whopping forty-six percent of 2012-2013 incoming class enrollment.
You are irreplaceable.
Humanities-minded people are the hardest to replace. By studying art, history, literature, philosophy, and other fields in the liberal arts, you can interact, connect, and emphasize with people in a way that a computer can never do. These are invaluable skills that are difficult to outsource since liberal arts-minded people can relate to the local consumer. Additionally, their expertise allows them to think creatively, analytically, and deeply in ways that others cannot.
A company’s main target is the human consumer so logically, being able to understand your fellow human is critical to the success of a business. The Washington Post writes this of humanities majors in an application to David Foster Wallace’s writings: “His world of intricate, neurotic detail and societal critique says more about living as a young man in the 1990s than most market research graphs. But more importantly: The same skills involved in being a subtle reader of a text are involved in deeply understanding Chinese or Argentinian consumers of cars, soap or computers.”
Your future prospects aren’t that grim.
According to the 2013 study of college majors, unemployment, and earnings by Georgetown University, liberal arts majors are not too bad off with an average unemployment of 9.0 percent. Recent graduates in liberal arts actually fare better than computer and mathematics majors who have an unemployment rate of 9.1 percent.
In devaluing the worth of a liberal arts education by raising tuition for non-STEM majors, people cheapen the worth of a student majoring in a non-STEM field, underrate the value in critical thinking and communication skills, and give off a false impression that STEM majors are on the only path to success. Though society desperately needs brilliant biologists, engineers, and doctors, their successes should not be at the cost of soon-to-be lawyers, educators, journalists, or other professions.
Students should feel free to choose any major they want. They should have the freedom to study what they are interested in, pursue a career that excel in, and live the life they want. For all the reasons stated above, it really is okay to be who you are, even if it means being a non-STEM major.