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Humanities remain essential to education

By Michelle CannizzoColumnist

One of the best things about attending college is the fact that students are given as many options as possible. They are offered an abundance of majors and minors, but what types of degrees are students choosing to pursue as of late?

According to an Oct. 30 article published by Tamar Lewin of The New York Times, some college students are forgoing degrees in humanities and opting to pursue degrees in science and business because they feel that such an education will lead to more and better career options post graduation.

The article states that at Stanford University, which is said to have a strong humanities program, “…some 45 percent of the faculty members in [the] main undergraduate division are clustered in the humanities – but only 15 percent of the students.”

Similar can be said for Harvard University and Princeton University, both worried by the decline in the number of students wishing to enroll in humanity-based majors. Lewin shares that Harvard had a 20 percent decline in humanities majors in the past ten years, and Princeton is creating humanity-based high school programs in the hopes of luring prospective students into humanities studies.

These universities are using their resources to create new programs and generate larger student interest in the humanities, but for universities that do not have the luxury of being part of the Ivy League, such as our own Hofstra University, there may be insufficient funds for doing so.

Despite this, no universities should remove the humanities from their academic programs. Who are they to decide what students may choose to study?

As institutions aimed toward academic achievement, universities must look at achievement in every light. Is achievement measured by who gets the highest grade on the bar exam after graduating from law school? Or is it measured by who writes a New York Times best seller? A person’s success should not be judged upon whether they have a humanity-based degree or a science-based degree, but rather, on what that person does with the degree in the future.

The humanities are essential because they bring us all together: the biology majors with the film majors, the international business majors with the English majors. People well versed in the humanities are vital to our society, and it is worth spending the time and money required to educate them.

Fortunately, Hofstra does not seem to have any reason to even consider eliminating degrees in the humanities – not yet, anyway. According to the University’s USNews Education profile page, the five most popular majors for 2012 graduates were marketing, psychology, public relations, business management and English – a nearly fair split between the humanities and the sciences.

We are lucky to attend a university at which the student body wishes to pursue majors of all categories, and it is because of this that Hofstra is likely to continue to offer a wide variety of degree options in the future.

 

 

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