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Why be a History Major?

As a history major, I am constantly asked why I chose it. Is it because I want to be a teacher? Do I want to work in a museum? blah, blah, blah. Not that I don’t think these are great career choices (I have considered both of them), but I feel that there many people who are not aware of the major positives that come with a history degree. Here are just a few!

It helps with your writing! Do you consider yourself a bad writer? Studying history can help! Learning how to write a history research paper helps to focus your ideas. Personally, I have a bad habit of talking myself in circles and it can take me a while to get to the main point. Writing research papers has helped me to tighten up my writing. This is very beneficial in the long run in pretty much any job, especially if you have to write an important report for the big boss. No one wants to read a long and repetitive report. Get to the point! (For more information on how to write a research paper, check out History Research Paper Series, Part One: Topic Exploration, History Research Paper Series, Part Two: Reading and Research, History Research Paper Series, Part Three: Faculty Support by Payton Howard!).

Another positive that goes along with the idea of writing is enhancing your critical thinking. I will admit, finding a sole career that only has to do with history can be very limited, but there are many careers that are looking for people who know how to think critically and have effective problem solving skills. This is especially true for careers in business. You have to have the ability to public speak, work with others and problem solve. Studying history gives you all these tools.

Last but not least, studying history is important and crucial to our thinking as human beings because it continues our memory of the past.* Memory allows us to not repeat the same mistakes. It allows us to improve on something that was done in the past. Even in their everyday lives people are always thinking of their past in order to make decisions. Studying history is the same concept. Also, if we know where we come from, then we know who we are and how to better ourselves to make a brighter future.

So sure the history major might not be for everyone, but it is important not to write it off as an unemployable degree. You don’t have to know the start date of the Hundred Years War in Europe in order to be successful in life. However, what you do have to know if you want a successful career is how to think critically and how to effectively work with others. Taking the steps to get this degree can lead you to these goals.

*Vanderbilt University, Why Major in History. Nashville: Vanderbilt University History Department, 10 April 2019.

For additional resources on this topic, check out these links!

https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/about-page.

https://liberalarts.oregonstate.edu/shpr/history/about-history/what-can-i-do-history-major.

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