University Education: On the So-Called “Useless” Majors

From reading the title of this blog post alone, you’ve probably already thought of a few majors, ones that seem to perennially suffer from a bad reputation characterized by low pay and lack of demand in the job market. Let’s not be coy about this one—I’m talking about the Humanities.

If you run a quick Google search on wages, you’ll find plenty of news and websites talking about the encounters of English, History, and Philosophy majors in the real world, and it isn’t all that pretty and encouraging. A little digging however unveiled that the bias against humanities majors is unfounded. In other words, while humanities majors aren’t paid as much as their STEM counterparts, they aren’t exactly at the bottom of the barrel either.

Of course, depending on where you are in the country, the commonly heard story about receiving low pay and always overworked will take on a bit more color. But if there’s one thing humanities majors can be proud about, it’s that they’ve proven themselves to be flexible enough to fit in a variety of career paths. While this sounds like a chicken and egg thing, trust me; there’s more to it than that.

Increasingly, tech companies are now finding that humanities majors have plenty to offer in the workplace. Apart from their stronger than average soft skills like writing and speaking, humanities majors are helping companies change the way they think about their products and services, adding that much needed social or human component to actually make products or design services that make a difference.

Case in point, one of the hottest “unicorn” startups in Silicon Valley right now, Slack Technologies, has a Philosophy major as its cofounder and CEO. What’s an app good for after all, if it doesn’t have any users and are as boring as talking to robots? That’s the argument of Slackbot’s human, Anna Pickard, who is trained in theater. Pickard is the creative mind responsible for Slackbot’s ludicrous replies which has found wide amusement among users. Indeed, an immersion in the liberal arts can pay off.