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Considering the Practical Aspects of Your Major in College

Studying History in College

      Ever since I can remember, I have loved history.  As a small child, my parents would have to drag my out museums to my disapproval.  Every year when the time to decide to pick where the family would travel to for family vacation, my answer would always be along the lines of "Jamestown!, Williamsburg!, or Yorktown!"  The beach or amusement parks where of no interest to me.  So, when the time came to select a college to attend and field of study that wasn't as hard me as it was for some of my classmates.  History as my major was the obvious choice.  But where to study?  I had great grades, but the competition to get into colleges today is extremely, extremely competitive.  I didn't bother to apply to William and Mary which is where I really wanted to attend.  Instead, I settled my sights on either University of Richmond or Roanoke College.  After touring Roanoke College, I fell in love.  I like the idea of a small school with small classes.  My French 201 class had just five students and my largest class had 32 students in it.  I was always taught by a professor with a Ph. D or a M.D.  I enrolled in the school as a second semester freshman and began my studies.

     Before the end of my first semester,  I declared myself as History major and a French minor.  Second semester, I took my first Anthropology class.  Archaeology 201 which was half in the classroom and half working in the field.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and declared myself as an Anthropology concentration.  As my third semester at Roanoke College rolled around, I started looking at the prospect of graduating, careers, and graduate school.  That's when I realized as much I love history in today's economic times, it really isn't the most practical major.

      So, I was faced with a decision.  Either continue on with more schooling.  Which meant more student loans (the government does not offer any assistance to those in graduate school), and a tough job market once I got out of school.  I wanted a career in the museum field.  However, jobs in the market are limited.  They are few and far between.  Very rarely do they become available and you either have to know someone to be hired or be way over qualified.  I didn't want to teach unless it was at the college level which meant a Ph. D. and more schooling.  So,  I decided that as much as I loved history it was time to switch to a different field of study.

       I knew I liked working with people and helping others so Human Services felt like a natural choice.  I transferred to Virginia Western Community College where I could get my associate's degree within a year and start working in the field immediately.  From that point, I could go on and attain my bachelor's  in psychology or Human Services.  That remains to be seen.  The field of Human Services is filled with a wide variety of job opportunities and various directions I could go with.  It offers me the freedom to work anywhere in the country and have job security.  I don't have to give up history totally though.  I still pursue my love of history and Anthropology today.  I can even tie it with my current studies.  Right now, I'm reading a book on mental illness and the correlation of great leaders from history.

      My point in this blog is this:  be practical and realistic in what you choose to do with your studies and career.  While no one can take away knowledge from you, going the long way will only keep you from goals and dreams.  If I had listened to those older and wiser than me who told me that a history degree wasn't practical I would not have put myself a year behind in my current studies.  Think long and hard about what you want to do.  Then, write a list of how you want to get there.  Start with the first step and work your way up.  Don't get defeated if things get put on pause or you have to take a step back.  It's worth it in the end.