Are humanity subjects genuinely useless?

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username5634758
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I'm aware this is probably going to get quite heated, but it needs to be asked.

I've been looking around TSR, and there seems to be a lot of STEM superiority / badmouthing about humanity subjects. One thing I've noticed being said quite a lot is that non-STEM graduates are not employable or will end up at McDonald's. I don't think it's true, but I was wondering why people say that. What about those who genuinely work hard, go to good universities and end up in high positions?

As somebody who's currently deciding their A level options, it's significantly impacted my thought process behind the subjects I choose. I'm debating between going down a full humanitarian route or splitting half and half between STEM and non-STEM, for fear of being "unemployed" in the future.

I want a career that's fulfilling and rewarding, not one that gives me bucket loads of money but makes me unhappy. I don't know what to do anymore, I'm so fed up of seeing threads about "useless" humanity degrees.
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something_orphic
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Thats certainty not true. Its just some toxic people on TSR. A lot of people on TSR do STEM subjects and for some reason they just like to feel superior. Yes obviously going down STEM means that you are probably 'more' employable than a lot of humanities subjects and you probably get more money however, if it was true that only STEM people get jobs then logically half the population, maybe more would be unemployed.
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Joleee
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just fyi if you're even mildly interested in a career in STEM i think you should check out some university entry requirements cuz you might need more than just half-science-half-humanities at A levels, so may be limiting yourself anyway.

regarding 'useless degree' advice, tbh you need to take it with a grain of salt on here and be mindful that chances are just as good it's coming from someone who hasn't even had a career before and have based their opinion on rumours and hearsay. there are just as many jobs - if not more - that you can do with a humanities degree including anything to do with law, social work, policing, civil service, politics, teaching, journalism, economics, marketing, banking and entrepreneurship to name a few.
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username5634758
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(Original post by Joleee)
just fyi if you're even mildly interested in a career in STEM i think you should check out some university entry requirements cuz you might need more than just half-science-half-humanities at A levels, so may be limiting yourself anyway.

regarding 'useless degree' advice, tbh you need to take it with a grain of salt on here and be mindful that chances are just as good it's coming from someone who hasn't even had a career before and have based their opinion on rumours and hearsay. there are just as many jobs - if not more - that you can do with a humanities degree including anything to do with law, social work, policing, civil service, politics, teaching, journalism, economics, marketing, banking and entrepreneurship to name a few.
Thank you for the advice. I've had a look at some university requirements for Biological Sciences, as I've been interested in a Marine Biology career, and so far they've stated Biology + one other science (or Maths). I'm taking bother Biology and Chemistry, however I'm worried that I'll somehow be disadvantaged without Maths.

That is reassuring. Tbh I'd never even heard of STEM superiority before I came to TSR
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artful_lounger
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"It needs to be asked" - no, it doesn't, and it still gets asked once every three months or so anyway...Graduates from humanities (and social sciences) are no better or worse off than STEM grads in the job market; in fact the myth of "better prospects for STEM degrees" is incredibly out of touch with reality, since the job prospects of grads in CS, earth and environmental sciences, and bioscience subjects were so poor that the government had to commission an inquiry into the matter.

Most graduates don't go into a job directly related to what they study in university, including many STEM degree grads, and for those jobs that don't require a particular background, employers don't care what subject you study. The degree is just a tick box for those kinds of grad jobs and grad schemes (which are the majority of them), and they care much more about what relevant work experience you've gotten during your degree to prepare you for graduate work. This is also true of STEM specific fields (perhaps even more so actually).

As noted above though, taking a token science subject at A-level isn't actually going to make any differnece, because most STEM degrees require at least two, the most commonly required pairs being biology/chemistry (most bioscience degrees), physics/maths (most physics and engineering degrees) chemistry/maths (some chemistry, engineering, and earth sciences courses) or maths/FM (CS and maths degrees). So having just one science subject doesn't really open many if any doors in terms of subject options. You would be just as well off doing all humanities or social sciences subjects, and then doing a STEM degree with a foundation year if you really felt you wanted to go in that direction.

But, trust me, the graduate prospects will not be magically better because you did a STEM degree or whatever. The kinds of people who would be successful in the graduate job market would be successful no matter what degree they did, because they are the kinds of people who are proactive in seeking out and undertaking relevant work experience opportunities (e.g. internships, placements, vacation schemes, etc).
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Napp
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No, the idea that they are is useless and only propagated by ignorant young students who have either yet to even go to university or experience any aspect of life.
STEM subjects are undoubtedly helpful but given we live in a world that requires me than simply an army of biochemists and engineers obviously the idea that humanities are "useless" is completely idiotic. Unless someone honestly takes the opinion that our history, culture, languages, politics, policies, reading, writing etc. etc. etc. are actually useless - in which case that person probably has no business even looking at a STEM subject let alone a humanities one.
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valentinefem
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No, some people just think that people who do them are taking ''the easy way out''. Although I have mixed feelings about the arts, humanities help to develop critical thinking skills and the ability to look at matters from different perspectives. History, politics, languages (MFL or ancient), English and philosophy are all very well respected within academia. I'm doing a mixture of STEM and humanities for A level and I want to do medicine- it's just I'd prefer to polish my Spanish skills than do graphs that nobody ever uses outside of the classroom or learn how to calculate how fast Mercury is moving. Do whatever the **** you want, and don't be pressured into closing yourself off from either. You could do 2 sciences and maths with a humanity/language A level or AS, perhaps? It depends what you need the science for.
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Gent2324
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STEM degrees open up more opportunities, but if the job you want doesn't fall into that category then it doesn't matter if you do stem or not.
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Roseygirl1234
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Humanity subjects are definitely not useless because they teach you a lot of things STEM subjects cannot.

In terms of picking A levels, I would probably recommend having a variety of subjects rather than just STEM or humanities because the amount of university courses available will be less constricting and there will be a lot more variety.
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hotpud
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(Original post by Gent2324)
STEM degrees open up more opportunities, but if the job you want doesn't fall into that category then it doesn't matter if you do stem or not.
Agreed. But if the goal is to understand the world around us, humanities are essential. Plus - if we are looking at the skills you develop, critical thinking, analysis of ideas, team working and self-motivation are all achieved through study of the humanities.
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Gent2324
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(Original post by hotpud)
Agreed. But if the goal is to understand the world around us, humanities are essential. Plus - if we are looking at the skills you develop, critical thinking, analysis of ideas, team working and self-motivation are all achieved through study of the humanities.
i think youre overestimating what a degree actually teaches you thats useful in real life
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hotpud
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(Original post by Gent2324)
i think youre overestimating what a degree actually teaches you thats useful in real life
I think you equally underestimate the employability skills people gain at university. The trouble is, no one bothers to tell students that they are learning said skills and as a result their CVs do not do them good service. Even in school, students gain all manner of useful skills. For example, in my classes, I actively encourage problem solving, collaborative working, resilience, initiative etc etc. The "stuff" they learn is kind of irrelevant. It is the fact they can learn it and their ability to recognise the skills they have used in order to learn it that matters.

But regardless, having a rounded knowledge of the world around us is essential to being part of a civilised society. To dismiss the social sciences as irrelevant is to be ignorant to the extreme.
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Gent2324
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(Original post by hotpud)
I think you equally underestimate the employability skills people gain at university. The trouble is, no one bothers to tell students that they are learning said skills and as a result their CVs do not do them good service. Even in school, students gain all manner of useful skills. For example, in my classes, I actively encourage problem solving, collaborative working, resilience, initiative etc etc. The "stuff" they learn is kind of irrelevant. It is the fact they can learn it and their ability to recognise the skills they have used in order to learn it that matters.

But regardless, having a rounded knowledge of the world around us is essential to being part of a civilised society. To dismiss the social sciences as irrelevant is to be ignorant to the extreme.
I knew something was off when you said that humanity degrees are essential to understand the world... now it all makes sense, you're a teacher, and probably in humanities.
no student would ever say what you have just said.

the skills you listed that are learnt in humanities, like team working, critical thinking etc.. are learnt much better doing an actual job.
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emileeeei
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(Original post by username5634758)
I'm aware this is probably going to get quite heated, but it needs to be asked.

I've been looking around TSR, and there seems to be a lot of STEM superiority / badmouthing about humanity subjects. One thing I've noticed being said quite a lot is that non-STEM graduates are not employable or will end up at McDonald's. I don't think it's true, but I was wondering why people say that. What about those who genuinely work hard, go to good universities and end up in high positions?

As somebody who's currently deciding their A level options, it's significantly impacted my thought process behind the subjects I choose. I'm debating between going down a full humanitarian route or splitting half and half between STEM and non-STEM, for fear of being "unemployed" in the future.

I want a career that's fulfilling and rewarding, not one that gives me bucket loads of money but makes me unhappy. I don't know what to do anymore, I'm so fed up of seeing threads about "useless" humanity degrees.
i would honestly disagree with what most people have said and say that a STEM degree is more restrictive than a humanities - stem degrees work on knowledge whereas humanities degrees have far more transferable skills within humanities. with a stem degree your career route is often clearer - eg take biology and go work in a lab which may make it seem like there are more job opportunities - you rarely go from "philosophy" to "philosopher", instead you can do literally _anything_ in the humanities still and there is often a wider range of opportunities- journalism, think tank work, researcher etc so you have the whole world open to you, it just takes a little more work to find what you like a little later down the line. in terms of pay tho, I think stem wins. do what you love, but look at uni course requirements when making your decision. also, you will probably be pretty disadvantaged with no maths in STEM (and most stem has a lot of maths, which isn't great if you dont enjoy it), so you may be able to get further with humanities
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hotpud
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(Original post by Gent2324)
I knew something was off when you said that humanity degrees are essential to understand the world... now it all makes sense, you're a teacher, and probably in humanities.
no student would ever say what you have just said.

the skills you listed that are learnt in humanities, like team working, critical thinking etc.. are learnt much better doing an actual job.
Yes, I am a teacher, but not of the humanities. I am right at the heart of STEM thank you very much.

But I recognise that life isn't just about doing stuff. It is about thinking and understanding and the humanities play their part, just as language, music, drama, PE, art, food tech and any other "non-essential" subject does. It is called being a rounded individual.

I find it sad that we having this discussion. The working class of yesteryear recognised the importance of the world around them, expressing it through brass bands, art clubs, poetry, debating and philosophy clubs. It isn't STEM vs. humanities. It is STEM and humanities that are important. STEM gets you a job. Humanities and the arts make you human.
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Gent2324
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(Original post by hotpud)
Yes, I am a teacher, but not of the humanities. I am right at the heart of STEM thank you very much.

But I recognise that life isn't just about doing stuff. It is about thinking and understanding and the humanities play their part, just as language, music, drama, PE, art, food tech and any other "non-essential" subject does. It is called being a rounded individual.

I find it sad that we having this discussion. The working class of yesteryear recognised the importance of the world around them, expressing it through brass bands, art clubs, poetry, debating and philosophy clubs. It isn't STEM vs. humanities. It is STEM and humanities that are important. STEM gets you a job. Humanities and the arts make you human.
you're talking about humanities in real life with clubs, bands etc, you can still go to those clubs if you did or are doing a stem degree. I agree that humanities in terms of what it actually represents is very useful, but I was talking about humanities as a degree. I don't think a humanities degree is necessary to have any of those qualities you mentioned. an understanding of humanities, yes, but you don't need a degree for that and id go as far to say that a lot of the time you don't get a proper understanding of humanities with some humanities degrees.
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hotpud
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(Original post by Gent2324)
you're talking about humanities in real life with clubs, bands etc, you can still go to those clubs if you did or are doing a stem degree. I agree that humanities in terms of what it actually represents is very useful, but I was talking about humanities as a degree. I don't think a humanities degree is necessary to have any of those qualities you mentioned. an understanding of humanities, yes, but you don't need a degree for that and id go as far to say that a lot of the time you don't get a proper understanding of humanities with some humanities degrees.
I get you. Well, I suppose you could argue that for all subjects. Why does anyone need a degree in anything when if you are intelligent, you can pretty much learn whatever on the job? Does that mean universities or the studies you appear to be deaming as pointless are worthless? I think if you only see university as a means to serve a future career I think you don't understand university or the value of education for education's sake. University is not and never was primarily about getting a job.

But equally, what about all the academics, geologists, historians, sociologists, meteorologists, oceanographers, artists, musicians and more besides who make massive contributions to society having studied the humanities.
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Gent2324
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(Original post by hotpud)
I get you. Well, I suppose you could argue that for all subjects. Why does anyone need a degree in anything when if you are intelligent, you can pretty much learn whatever on the job? Does that mean universities or the studies you appear to be deaming as pointless are worthless? I think if you only see university as a means to serve a future career I think you don't understand university or the value of education for education's sake. University is not and never was primarily about getting a job.

But equally, what about all the academics, geologists, historians, sociologists, meteorologists, oceanographers, artists, musicians and more besides who make massive contributions to society having studied the humanities.
well, thats what apprenticeships are trying to solve, I think the qualities you learn on the job are 10x more valuable than the skills you learn at university. personally I think in 10-30 years apprenticeships will overtake uni admissions, but that will be in a while.

I'm not sure what your last point is about, those people who made big contributions had access to a range of resources and then invented their own. 20-30 years ago you needed to be in university to get access to that information, but nowadays, thanks to the internet, you don't need to be in a university to access particular resources, and most is freely available.
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