These days, there’s been a lot of focus on the importance of earning a STEM degree if you plan on attending a college or university. After all, statistics do indicate that students who focus on STEM subjects are more likely to move on to lucrative careers than students who focus on the arts, literature, and similar subjects.
This blog isn’t trying to refute the idea that STEM degrees can be valuable. Along with boosting someone’s chances of earning a high income, they also provide the world with talented individuals who have the knowledge and skills necessary to innovate, treat illness, develop infrastructure, and much more.
However, it’s also important to remember that studying the arts and humanities is valuable as well. The following are key reasons why:
Why Studying the Arts and Humanities is Valuable
There’s a Demand for People with Broader Educations
The strengths of STEM degrees aren’t infinite. While focusing on STEM subjects in college can be valuable, it can also be limiting in certain respects. Specifically, STEM degree programs tend to focus on narrow subjects in substantial detail.
Liberal arts majors, on the other hand, have the opportunity to get a broader education. Consider the example of an English literature program. Because literature is naturally linked with society, history, religion, philosophy, critical thinking, and a wide range of other subjects, by studying English literature, a student would get the opportunity to acquire a very broad base of knowledge.
Economist David J. Deming actually points out that many employers are actively seeking people who have this type of broader perspective. The world still needs flexible employees who understand numerous subjects instead of specializing in just one area of expertise.
The World Still Needs Art
There’s no denying that the work STEM majors go on to do plays a very important role in virtually everyone’s life. STEM experts are the ones who keep both people and societies alive and healthy.
However, many find there’s little point to being alive if the experience itself isn’t enriching. A new technology may prevent an illness from taking your life, but it won’t make your life worth living.
That’s another key reason the study of arts and humanities is important. STEM majors facilitate our lives. Those who focus on the arts and humanities are the ones who make those lives feel meaningful.
Proficiency is Important
The insistence that all students should consider pursuing STEM degrees ignores what should be a fairly obvious reality: not everyone is proficient in STEM subjects.
For instance, you wouldn’t tell a short, non-athletic person with no interest in basketball to pursue a position on an NBA team. That would be a waste of their time.
The same basic principle applies here. A person is simply more likely to succeed in any given endeavor if they have at least some natural aptitude for (and interest in) the skills that success in said endeavor requires.
Once again, the point isn’t to argue that STEM degrees are worthless. No one could seriously believe that to be the case. However, basic critical thinking reveals that studying the arts and humanities is also worthwhile.