This is an interesting piece on the decline of the humanities major at the undergraduate level in the USA. The reason I am sharing it here is because I have heard many MBA admissions officers comment over the years about how some of those ‘English major’ applicants from Yale, Oxford, Amherst (or other highly reputable undergraduate institutions) are often standouts in the business school classroom – outshining the engineers and business undergraduates by a substantial margin.
In fact, the truth is that an English (or other humanities) major who has professional experience and has a grasp of basic quantitative skills (e.g. has scored competitively on the GMAT and had some exposure to economics or statistics) is often very well equipped for success in business. Beyond that, humanities majors add a dimension to the MBA classroom by often employing more creative ‘outsider’ approaches than their peers from more traditional backgrounds.
The teaching of the humanities has fallen on hard times. So says a new report on the state of the humanities by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and so says the experience of nearly everyone who teaches at a college or university. Undergraduates will tell you that they’re under pressure — from their parents, from the burden of debt they incur, from society at large — to choose majors they believe will lead as directly as possible to good jobs. Too often, that means skipping the humanities.