This archived article was written by: Nathan J. Pena
As the new semester arrives, most returning college students might be wondering what major to pick. Most would decide on majors with the most potential such as engineering or accounting. However, while most of these majors produce prosperous careers, there are other majors with lesser-known opportunities.
According to forbes.com, history is the ninth out of the 10-worst college majors. Listing the major with an unemployment rate of 10.2 percent and a median earning for recent grads at $32,000.
However, according to Nathaniel Woodward, a USU Eastern student close to completing his history major says, “Students don’t realize what type of careers they can get. They think that with a history major you can teach.”
One of the many things that a history major can give you is the different opportunity. Woodward said, “They don’t realize that with a history major they can go on to work in civil-service government jobs. People like me are majoring in history because it gives us a foundation for our professional graduate programs as we go on to law school, history can give me the understanding of the constitution of this country and the beliefs and foundations of law in other countries. So this gives me a great deal of knowledge.”
“Another unique part of the history program at USU Eastern is that you require a minor, almost like a second degree. You become very proficient in a different degree, and it gives you breadth and a lot of options. History is unique and progressive, and it gives you an understanding on how the world is, was, and how it will be.”
Though this major includes interesting opportunities for the future, it is not so easy to grab the major. Woodward warns that, “history requires original research, and that’s hard to do an original research thesis on figures like George Washington, who’s been researched to death.
Trying to discover something new and unique is something difficult, so there is a lot of original thinking that goes into it. You have to be creative and sometimes you cannot go online and look at Wikipedia. You have to learn to search databases and become really good at investigating research and investigative reporting.”
With history, one also has to go far into older documents. “You need more than one source. Because someone said something does not mean it is right. Historical perspectives are difficult, it’s hard to tell who is good or bad without looking at several resources.”
Majoring in history can be challenging, and the thought of not finding a career in it may derail many students on the track to completing the degree.
While history cannot give you the more popular careers, there are different and unique opportunities that a major in history can open. There are many significant individuals that bear the degree such as politicians, CEOs and entertainers.
Former President George W. Bush graduated from Yale with a bachelor of arts degree in history. Martha Stewart, a prominent businesswoman, writer, and television personality, graduated from Barnard University with a double major in history and architectural history.
The famous TV show host and comedian Conan O’Brien concentrated on literature and history during his years at Harvard University.
These individuals not only graduated with a degree in a major that has been listed as a bad college major, but they did something with it by becoming a famous entrepreneur, a comedian and TV show personality, and lastly the president of the United States. According to USU Easern associate professor of history, Dr. Susan Neel, “A history degree doesn’t prepare us to be something, it prepares us to do something.”