My ‘worthless’ history degree is more valuable than you think

In the midst of this highly disputed geopolitical landscape, my history degree holds greater significance than ever before.

Sitting on the couch with my friends, I received a notification from CNN stating the “Doomsday Clock”—a timer indicating how close we are to the annihilation of humanity—was set at 90 seconds to midnight for the second year in a row.

Alarming my friends with the announcement, we pondered why experts had come to such an assessment.

I found myself able to understand historically and contemporarily why the world is in a state of disarray. From the war in Ukraine to political tensions at the American-Mexican border, I was able to discuss with my friends factors contributing to global challenges.

Had the notification popped up while I was a math major at the University of Waterloo, I would have been utterly confused.

Prior to becoming a history major at Queen’s University, I studied mathematics and business at Waterloo. There is a high return value on STEM degrees, often leading to fruitful job prospects in the world of business and data analytics.

In other words, business or math degrees pay the bills. Humanities, not so much.

The existence of this mindset among university students suggests going to university has become more about landing a good job than genuine learning.

The idea that history degrees are “worthless” further suggests an increase in careerism. Since a history degree doesn’t guarantee you a job after graduation, the value of the diploma has decreased.

However, from crunching numbers to reading the archives, I can say my history degree has provided me with a plethora of transferable, applicable skills.

Through small seminars I have learned to think critically and form my own opinions. From reading primary source documents I’ve learned empathy through understanding the voices of those who have been silenced.

I have met some of the smartest, most eloquent individuals in my history classes, who no doubt will end up being our future lawyers and politicians.

The next generation of university students is bound to inherit a fractured and chaotic geopolitical landscape, and with the help of history majors, a more stable and harmonious future is attainable.

Our world needs more than just builders; it needs peacemakers. History majors are equipped for the job.

Sofia is a third-year history student and one of The Journal’s Assistant News Editors.


careerism, history degree

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