I study humanities and I’m tired of people making fun of my degree

I work just as hard as somebody in STEM


I don’t spend all my time in a lab, and I don’t live in the science library. But just because my degree involves, reading, writing, and creative critical thinking doesn’t mean it isn’t valid or worthy.

You’re not smarter than me just because you do STEM

When I attended an offer holder’s day for the University of Edinburgh, one lecturer started his introduction by saying: “If you want to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you, and who will challenge you every day, this is the place to do it.” I was so excited for my future course, English Language and Literature. While I have certainly found myself challenged over my first year, I didn’t realise that it wouldn’t be my course mates who thought themselves smarter.

Having just finished my first year, I’ve been exposed to a variety of opinions on my course choice. The negative responses often come from my friends in STEM, the majority of whom have made jokes about the difficulty of my course or even about my overall intelligence. While the idea of studying English or any arts or humanities subject is easy to some people, I struggle to see how this idea has become so common.

I worked extremely hard to get into Edinburgh Uni, which happens to be one of the best universities in the world, specifically for my chosen subject. Despite how hard I worked to achieve what I did, I still find my intelligence and the value of my degree coming into question. Why do so many people think humanities degrees are worth less than STEM?

Stop telling me I won’t have a job

While people seem to think that there are no job opportunities for non-STEM degrees, this simply isn’ t the case. There are many influential people who have chosen to study English literature, including Stephen Fry, Martin Scorsese, Stephen King, and Barbara Walters, to name a few. Studying English Literature allows for a wide range of future possibilities for students, ranging from politics, journalism, writing or even in comedy. I’ll admit the image of the starving writer is maybe a little funny, but degrees based in the arts and humanities such can be incredibly versatile and lead to any number of future career possibilities. STEM degrees, on the other hand, can limit what you go on to do.

While the majority of my friends study STEM degrees, we are still able to come together despite our differences.

Even still, it’s not fair to act as though the only reason to choose a degree is to find a well paying career. Not everyone who studies an arts degree finds success, but the same can be said for anyone studying a STEM subject. Not everyone is going to end up in a successful job or doing what they set out to do at the beginning of their degree, but that’s just the luck of life. There is much more to life than earning money. A high salary isn’t a driving force for everyone; doing something you are passionate about is just as worthy as doing something for money. The opinion that the humanities can’t lead to a fulfilling career is invalid. We have just as much chance at finding success, whatever this may be.

“I’m sure I could do it too!”

A lot of the same STEM friends who make fun of my degree seems to think they could do it with their eyes closed. This kind of comment belittles my degree and to a certain extent my place at university.  I’ve read several of the essays of my STEM peers. I can confidently say that this is not the case. The level of critical analysis and writing skill expected from my course is high and not something to be laughed about.

In the same way that I wouldn’t be much good in a biology lab or taking a chemistry exam, many of my science-studying friends aren’t very good at writing essays. On top of that, my workload is just as heavy as a STEM one, if not heavier. Each lecture is based on a new text, or in some cases several texts. With three or four literature lectures a week, this is no small feat to keep up with. This doesn’t even include the reading and work I have to do for my elective courses. Working with numbers doesn’t mean that you work harder than I do.

Where would we be without artists?

It’s in times of crisis like these that we turn to artists. With all the spare time we suddenly have, it’s films, books, music and other creative pursuits that keep us going. Creative degrees give us this outlet. It may be easy to make jokes about degrees that don’t align with your own interests, but we need to remember just how important these degrees are. I love my degree and I work just as hard as the next student, even if my friends in STEM might not think so.