Program Criticisms: Why You Shouldn’t Underestimate Your Humanities Major

In an assembly in grade 9, one guidance counsellor said that finding your career should be as simple as:

your passions + your abilities = your career

So why isn’t it that easy?  When did it become just about my abilities?

Every so often, the memories of my grade 12 year and the university application process come flooding back into my brain: aggressively and unannounced.

Around early December 2014, the criticism I received from my peers and teachers towards my options for post- secondary study seemed endless.

Them: “What are you going to do with that degree?”

Me: “Hopefully write one day, or maybe teach.”

Them: “No, but like, actually what do you plan on doing with that degree???”

Criticisms that Come with Choosing a Humanities Major

The common misconception among students new to university is that entering the world of engineering and medicine will guarantee you a job and hefty pay. Well… I mean that could be true but recent studies reveal that employers are looking to hire graduates who show high proficiency in SOFT SKILLS – that means us, humanities students!

I remember having this conversation with my chemistry teacher, a look of disappointment washing over his face as I told him that I wasn’t planning on continuing chemistry after high school. He told me my program selection for university was “putting my intelligence to misuse” and it would have been “wiser” if I had chosen the path to becoming an engineer, a doctor or a businesswoman. Soon, it became clear to me that he was speaking on behalf of the majority opinion – it was undisputed!  To them, I just made the awful decision that would undoubtedly lead to my fatal downfall! Oh the horror! I had chosen to study, nothing other than…

Wait for it…

Literature and writing!

My face when people hate on ~ENGLISH CLASS~

Eventually, it got to the point where I began avoiding the topic of my education. I told my friends that I “didn’t know” what program I was applying for just so I would escape hearing the negative backlash that automatically became associated with “English”. As the deadline for university applications inched closer, my unresolved answer started worrying my friends and began raising new questions…

Them: “Is she even going to apply to university at all?”

Potential employers have a lot to think about. Did you know for 68% of the time, they say that finding the ideal candidate for the job is a problem?

I had a lot to think about too…

Engineering? Sure, I enjoyed learning about light refraction and electromagnetic fields and Newton’s Law of Inertia. But the five foot monster rollercoaster from hell that we had to build in grade 12 was enough to make me realize that this was not a career I could picture myself doing FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.


Medicine? I have never heard of a doctor or nurse fainting at the sight of blood. Have you? I think I’d be one of the first.

Business? Debit means assets increasing and credits mean assets decreasing? Or is it the other way around…

My passions lie in reading and writing, why was that so hard to understand?

When did my program of study (POSt) correlate with how “intelligent” I was and how “employable” I was going to be?

Employment Myths …. Busted?

In 2015, Global News published an article revealing that a new study conducted by Workopolis showed that potential employers ranked communication skills and writing skills as #1 and #2 among the top ten skills they requested in employees. The report stated that “soft skills outweigh[ed] the technical [skills]” according to the surveyed employers.

The same news can be found in the United States! The Graduate Management Admission Test official website posted an article in 2014 revealing the same findings among our neighbouring American employers. Shockingly, simple communication skills are in high demand among employers.The article quotes one recruiter saying,

Communication is KEY. You can have all the financial tools, but if you can’t communicate your point clearly, none of it will matter.

The GMAT Staff, The Official GMAT Blog

And what do we learn while analyzing English, historical, and philosophical texts?

 …How to communicate arguments effectively and proficiently!

Having the ability to articulate thoughts skillfully has proven to set potential employees apart from their competition. This skill signals to employers which individual has the capacity to step into leadership positions.

The American survey results stated that,

employers ranked communications skills, on average, twice as important as managerial skills


Embrace the Benefits that Come with Your Program!

So next time you find yourself complaining about your seven page essay, or your 24 slide oral presentation, I challenge you to think about the employable skills you’re building! I know I will.

Whether you’re in the sciences, or the arts: LOVE. YOUR. POSt!

Your passions do not diminish your talents.

Your program of study does not diminish your intelligence.

Have you ever received criticism towards your program of study? Have you ever received support? Leave a comment or message me to share your story!

And remember, there is life beyond the textbooks too,



One thought on “Program Criticisms: Why You Shouldn’t Underestimate Your Humanities Major

  1. Really inspirational, Jessica! I totally relate with the backlash I received when I told my friends and family I would be studying Professional Writing and English. It got even worse when I told them I wasn’t planning on teaching after I finished my degree. But I totally agree with your mathematical equation, both my passion and abilities lie in the humanities field, so why would I wasn’t my time and money studying something I know I’m not good at, and will end up hating? I’m so glad that there are other humanities major out there that can relate! Thanks for sharing your story!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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