On my last post Andy commented, asking how my education at UMW has fit in with real life. I’ve learned many things since leaving but, one of the first things that came to mind when Andy asked this question was peoples’ perception of what a college degree means.
I’ve discovered most people don’t understand that having a liberal arts degree (specifically a B.A. in History) means that I can do more than teach history or work at a museum. I’m really *this* close to making a shirt that says, “Yes, I have a degree in history. No, I’m not going to be a teacher”. It has become clear to me that most people don’t understand how my degree has prepared me for than doing “history stuff”. One of the most important skills I gained while at school is the ability to think critically and apply those basic skills to fields outside of history. So while I may not have deeper knowledge of fields outside of the one I studied, I know how to get information I need and I am reasonably good at evaluating that information.
One of the things I was told all the time by people at school was that my degree would prepare me for a wide variety of jobs, careers and prepare me for life in general. While I still believe that these people are fundamentally right I’ve realized that this idea is not so widely understood (or maybe it is rejected, I’m not sure) and it is a bit frustrating to have to try to repeatedly explain to people that I am more than a history major, much more.
On a related note I have a post on critical thinking and skepticism in general in the works.