Social Question

TexasDude's avatar

Have I already committed economic suicide?

Asked by TexasDude (25244points) April 12th, 2010

Alright Fluther, I’m having a bit of an existential crisis, so bear with me.

It seems, according to my random ambling about on various discussion forums, that my history degree that I will have obtained in 2 years is completely useless. The disdain with which people mention history degrees is astounding. Many have even gone so far as to, tongue firmly planted in cheek I hope say that it’s better to have no degree at all than a history degree.

What is the best option, according to these various forums I’ve stumbled across? Engineering. Yep. Apparently engineering of any type is a magical gateway into guaranteed perpetual wealth, bliss, and all the ass meaningful relationships you could ever want. The problem is, the good lord in his infinite wisdom decided to outfit me with excellent reading comprehension skills, a knack for historical trivia, and great research skills, but I am lacking in the math and data skills like Glenn Beck is lacking in advertisers. Thus, I am rendered a permanent shut-out from the fields of chemistry, math, engineering, medicine, or any other useful and financially stable field.

I really love history. In fact, I wanted to be a history professor for the longest time. I talked with one of my history professors, and she basically told me I’d be better off collecting garbage. Many history students go on to get law degrees, but I don’t see myself as a lawyer. I thought a PhD in history would totally be my bag, but I’m guessing that the market for history professors in the next ten or so years will be close to nonexistent, leaving me useless and obsolete. There is always the military, I guess. And there will always be foreign businessmen in the need of uhh… services so I guess I have some hope. And besides, society always needs ditch diggers, right?

What do you say, Fluther? Am I a hopeless case? Or am I missing some glaring detail that will ease my troubled mind?

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47 Answers

bob_'s avatar

Anybody with talent can make it out there, with or without any kind of degree. If you like what you do, and you’re good at it, you’ll find a way to at least survive. Carpe diem!

talljasperman's avatar

Your prof prob is just suffering with depression…do what your passions call you to do…maybe you will get a job with the history channel

nimarka1's avatar

I think your perfect job is writing history textbooks! your great at both and you love them too. btw I’m still waiting on a story that will move me to tears.

TexasDude's avatar

Thanks @bob_, that’s a belief that I’ve always valued. I hope there is truth to it.

@talljasperman, all of them are. I very tactfully asked her what her salary is. Turns out my mom who works in a daycare and barely can make ends meet makes more money and has better benefits. Go figure. I’m having a bit of an issue figuring out what exactly my passion is. I’m trying to be a pragmatist. I know that passion and doing what you love and all is important, but that doesn’t always pay the bills. Thanks for the tips though, I still appreciate your input.

@nimarka1, I’m working on it. I’m curious as to what the textbook-writer field looks like. You probably have to be a professor to do that.

jrpowell's avatar

You could teach high school. It won’t make you rich but you will be able to get by.

nimarka1's avatar

yes probably, but if you love it, and your good at it, then your lucky because i am horrible at history, and wish i was a better writer. you probably do have to be a professor but those who probably write textbooks make bank! and if you dream big than maybe you could start your own publishing company that comes out with the next best history book. you know, one of those that are expensive and are basic in every high school in the country! just saying your not hopeless!

susanc's avatar

Stringently limit your romantic pursuits to young ladies majoring in economics, pre-law, and, yes, engineering. Women have made this kind of decision for a long time, and so can you.
No shame in it. An ambitious woman who’s honest with herself might very well yearn to find a kind, honest, handy man with a good critical mind and sense of the sweep of history whose mother knew everything about children.

TexasDude's avatar

@johnpowell, I’ve considered that as a fall waaaayyy back plan. I loathe highschool, highschoolers, highschool politics, and everything about highschools and the public school system, so I’d probably be miserable. I suppose there are always private schools?

@nimarka1, thanks for the encouragement. Every bit helps.

@susanc, I like the way you think.

I may go to bed now. I have to talk about the Platonic Golden Mean in lit class tomorrow and explain the role of gunpowder in the Hundred Years war in another class. I’ll be eagerly anticipating further comments from more jellies when I get back online.

Oh, @squidcake, you are saying something….

squidcake's avatar

A history degree can get you further than something like sociology, English, or psychology. That’s not to insult any of those fields, though. It doesn’t matter what field of study you’re in, you’re getting an education, and that’s what’s important. It bothers me when people become elitist about their field (I would know, my sister is the Engineer and I’m the aspiring artist).

That’s all I wanted to say. Get some sleep. :)

augustlan's avatar

Get the degree of your dreams, and you’ll find some way to support yourself. My husband has a degree in History and Parks Management, and he’s been a landscape designer guy all his life. He’s a happy guy. :)

TexasDude's avatar

@squidcake, thank goodness. I started out as a double major in English and Psychology until I fell completely out of love with both. In addition to all the crap I’ve heard, I have heard a few people tell me just what you told me, that any education is still an education and is valuable. I find that very encouraging. Thanks :-)

@augustlan, that’s true. I just have to be creative. I can do that. Thank you dear.

Bedtime now… For real this time. @WestRiverrat, and @hiphoospshohdohshodhodh, I eagerly await reading your responses.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Well, your choice isn’t any worse than my nephew’s. He graduates with a BS in Biblical Archaeology in May.

Your history degree will help if you want to work in the national park system. Money is not the greatest, but you get to work in some of the most spectacular scenery in the country.

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

The hallowed “science and technology” jobs are in the process of getting packed off permanently to China and India. It’s already begun and I don’t see anything really stopping it. An engineering degree is no fool-proof defense.

Look for a career that requires physical presence at the scene where service is rendered. That’s all the advice I can really think will hold up in the coming times.

ShiningToast's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard It all depends on your area. Engineers are a hot commodity out here in CA, but maybe not so in other parts of the country.

I kinda agree with @bob_ . Maybe right now you’ll have trouble finding work, but once the economy gets back into the swing of things you should be fine, a History degree is nothing to sneeze at.

Oh, I’m an engineer, or am going to be if it pans out. Damn you Calculus and Calculus based Physics!

Jeruba's avatar

I agree with those who say to study what you love. Your education is not just for your job but for your life. If you have a passion for your field, you will starve your soul if you don’t satisfy that appetite. There is nothing whatsoever that can substitute for passion.

Many people don’t end up working in their fields. But there are also many spinoffs, overlaps, and unexpected links yet to be explored. My advice would be to cultivate some secondary interest. It doesn’t matter what. Some other field that you can pursue avocationally, pick up as a minor, do directed study in, focus on in a dissertation, whatever. You don’t have to think ahead and figure out how it could translate into a career; for example, you don’t have to say “history + art = creating dioramas for museums” or “history + music = restoring antique instruments.” Just add something to your specialty. Then see where that leads you.

susanc's avatar

Tou write really well and have a nice gentle sense of humor. You think like a grownup. The world is starving for people like you.
I hear you can mow lawns, too. Excellent.

bob_'s avatar

@susanc Psst… you made a typo before “write really well” XD

JeffVader's avatar

Your forgetting that while a History degree may not have the most number of practical applications it does teach you various skills that are highly prized in business. The ability to critically analyse, to investigate & form an argument….. so stop being so harsh on History degrees, you made an excellent choice…... incidentally, I’ve got one myself :)

LuckyGuy's avatar

Look into being a Foreign Services Officer for the US Dept of State and take the aptitude test. That job is perfect for you. It will change your life.
PM me if you are interested or need information. Link I can fill in details.

janbb's avatar

I love the way you write! Hey, if you want to be doubly useless, why not get a Master’s in Print Journalism when you’re finished your BA? =P Seriously, I say study what you like and figure out a way to make it work as your life goes on. I do know some PhDs in humanities who are hurting for jobs but who knows how the worlds will swing? (However, a PhD is a long, hard slog.) We do need more librarians and it is a great field; you might consider combining an M.L.S. with a Master’s in History and become an academic librarian.

TexasDude's avatar

@WestRiverrat, lol, I am a big fan of the outdoors. I’m just glad I didn’t major in something like Global Peace Studies with a minor in Postmodern art methods (I know someone who did that)

@hiphiphopflipflapflop, you raise an excellent point. Thank you.

@ShiningToast, thank you. I never really thought it was something to sneeze at. I mean hell, the world would be such a better place if people were actually historically aware. I just can’t fathom why there is so much derision towards history majors. Good luck with your engineering though!

Thanks, @Jeruba. I“ve always told myself that no matter what, I’m going to get a PhD. My college I am in right now really emphasizes research, so it’s pretty much a given. I actually have to write a 100 or so page mini-dissertation based on original research before I can graduate. My college is the only undergrad school left in the nation that requires that.

@susanc, I am great in the classroom and in the library, but I don’t shy away from good old fashioned manual work. I can also change my own oil, tires, and I know how to use most hand tools

@JeffVader, I wouldn’t be opposed to working in business. I think I have a knack for persuasion, as well as economics. It’s not really that I feel animosity towards history degrees. I love history. It’s my passion. It’s just all the dumbass snarky comments that I have been inundated with while searching the internet that have me discouraged. Thanks for the support though. What did you specialize in, if you don’t mind my asking? I’m specializing in middle eastern and asian history, government, religion, and military.

@worriedguy, that actually sounds right up my alley. Shoot me an IM if you will.

@janbb, thank you! My writing skills are actually what got me my awesome scholarships at my crazy liberal arts college. I love writing, and I also used to work in a library, but I think of writing and library-ing as hobbies more than career options. Thanks anyway though!

JeffVader's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard No worries at all, always happy to chat about History. I specialised in the two World Wars, the Russian Empire & Revolution…. did my dissertation on the causes of World War 1. Yeh, people do seem to get overly cheeky when it comes to History…. I guess they don’t realise its the most important subject there is :)
I’d have loved to be able to do some Asian History, the only foray into that area my University did was China, mostly around the Communist visctory over the Kuomintang.

janbb's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard I see on your profile that you are studying Middle Eastern history. I would think that if you combine that with taking Arabic (maybe you already are), there would be academic or other job opportunities for you. In any case, I would say “follow your bliss” and try to make it work.

susanc's avatar

@bob_ omg thanks (hangs head in shame)

TexasDude's avatar

@JeffVader, World War One is actually my true historical passion. I am totally fascinated by everything to do with the Great War, especially the technology and the weird clash between modernity and the old world concepts of chivalry and aristocracy that still existed at the time. Great stuff!

@janbb, Arabic isn’t offered at any nearby school that I’m aware of, but I really would like to learn Arabic particularly Pashto

Jeruba's avatar

Also, my friend, don’t attach too much importance to what you read while wandering about in online forums. Those folks don’t know anything about you.

The more people who are discouraged from studying history, the wider your opportunities in the field.

sjmc1989's avatar

@Jeruba made a very good point. Also, you have to decide if being passionate about your career is worth more to you than having money and being in a position that you are miserable in. You seem incredibly talented as well as unique don’t follow the path everyone else would take, create your own. Good luck! (Sometimes just pure passion can create success within yourself.)

TexasDude's avatar

@Jeruba that is wisdom for the ages. The internet is filled with morons. I should know that by now.

@sjmc1989, Thank you kindly darling. I’m plenty passionate. Just very economically aware… unfortunately.

bob_'s avatar

@Jeruba Though, conversely, the more people who stay because they believe others are discouraged from studying history, the narrower your opportunities in the field XD

Just sayin’...

lloydbird's avatar

I bet that this Historian makes a nice Living.

TexasDude's avatar

@lloydbird, I bet! Thanks for the video. I’m a pretty decent writer. I think I could always try and write books.

lloydbird's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard Why not do TV, then “write”?

sjmc1989's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard Anytime and it’s unfortunate that we have to think about the economy before making all of our major decisions, but I understand where you’re coming from I am completely satisfied with where I am at in my job, but in order to survive I will have to continue with my education and be in a position where I won’t be as connected and close with my patients. I hope you are able to find a happy medium.

TexasDude's avatar

@sjmc1989, do you mind if I ask what you do for a living?

sjmc1989's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard Of course not. I work as a Nursing Assistant at the hospital and if I could get paid what I would for being a nurse I would love it. I am so afraid that once I become a RN I will miss the connection I have with my patients. They trust me and I get to spend time with them and not just shove pills down their throats before I’m off to the next. I can console them and on a good day even make them happy even if it is just for the small and insignificant things, but it’s an imperfect world.

sjmc1989's avatar

Oh and before there is an outlash, I am not putting down the nurses out there (Both my parents and numerous other members of my family are RN’ and I am in Nursing school presently). I just wish that there wasn’t so much pressure for the charting and thousands of other things RN’s have to do besides patient to nurse contact. I have great respect for all the nurses I work with as well as nurses in general. I just wish there wasn’t so much emphasis on the charting and technical side of medicine and more about the patient.

TexasDude's avatar

I agree with your position on bed side manner (oh, that sounds more exciting than it really is!)

I remember when I was still a psych major and there was zero emphasis placed on actual people skills. I was on the psychotherapy track too.

sjmc1989's avatar

That sounded fun ;)... I thought about going that track for a couple of years, I about took a position in a behavioral health center. It is a shame that even hospitals, behavioral centers, ect. are ultimately just big corporations that look at the patients as products not people, but hopefully I can personally try my best to view them as what they truly are people that need my help not someone I have to help in order to get my paycheck.

sjmc1989's avatar

How far are you into your degree?

TexasDude's avatar

I’m finishing my sophomore year. I started as a psych major and then switched to history. At the rate I’m going, I’ll graduate on time.

JeffVader's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard It really was a stagering conflict wasn’t it… Like yourself it’s that clash of the old & the new, in the technology, the tactics, the philosophies that makes it so engaging….. I was only watching a show on the History Chanel the other day where it had film of a cavalry charge against fortified German lines….. There is something about that last throw of the dice of the old empires that captures the imagination.

TexasDude's avatar

@JeffVader, that about sums it up beautifully for me.

sjmc1989's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard So it is still early, but if you really feel this strongly about history I would stick with it. There isn’t many people that love what they do, don’t give that up!

TexasDude's avatar

Thanks hon, I’ll do my best.

Coloma's avatar

Your purpose and passion will change many times over in your life.

Not bad to secure extreme knowledge in a certain area, but….remember… life is all about CHANGE.

What fits at 25 may not fit at 45 or 65.

Your best education is to remember that shift happens and go boldly into new frontiers! ;-)

TexasDude's avatar

@Coloma, thank you kindly, I like that advice.

Coloma's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard

My pleasure.

Yep, I think the biggest roadblock to happiness and ‘success’ is attaching the ‘forever’ word to anything.

Nothing lasts forever, not a career, a house, a car, a relationship, ( even if it does last ‘forever’ all that means is it still will end in death, hence NOT FOREVER! ) haha

People get so stuck on believing that they they must find one thing, one person, one job and thats that.

I am not talking about being a flake or a commitment phobe, I am talking about being flexable and watching how you create your own pain by believing anything is a forever deal. ;-)

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