Humanities vs Science

By: Lindsay Mathieson
Port Hardy Secondary School
Port Hardy, BC

Is it better to be an art freak, a science weenie or one of those fence sitters? This is a major question faced by young people today. Many students struggle with trying to decide what courses they should take in high school, not to mention the problems they face trying to pick classes for post-secondary school.

Copyright of Canada's SchoolNet

Some people will tell you that sciences and math are more difficult than humanities-based courses, and therefore people should focus on becoming a scientist, preferably a doctor. This is not true. There is not a winner in this contest between humanities and sciences. The two areas are very different, but it is impossible to have one without the other.

When choosing to concentrate your studies on one area, make sure you look at your interests and skills first. And remember, there are advantages to being in both, so don’t worry about what you are missing out on.

According to science teacher, Mr. Coote, "People in sciences are looking for precise answers to questions." So, if you tend to focus on fine details, and you always want your questions answered, the sciences may be the right choice for you. One definite advantage is that, "there are possibly more jobs in the sciences," says science teacher Mr. Farkas. The sciences are more specific, and you often graduate with a degree or diploma that is particular to a certain job. For example if you graduate with a degree in electronic engineering, you will probably end up working as an electronic engineer. For this reason, the sciences are believed to be more job-ready.

Humanities, on the other hand, are much more liberal. Usually your degree does not fit simply one specific job but a diverse group of occupations. A person majoring in the arts may end up working as executive for high-tech companies, as they need "creative thinkers for developing marketing strategies, analysts to make sense of all those statistics, team leaders to coordinate projects and sales representatives to service clients," according to Jenny Lass, a geography major who writes for schoolfinder.com. According to Misao Dean, an English professor at UVic, one major advantage to focussing on the arts is, "Humanities teaches many skills which the Education Ministry and BC employers have identified as the most important for long-term success in the work world." Mr. Kneisz also believes that there are definite advantages to being in humanities. "Universities are looking for people who think that this is better developed in humanities."

If you don’t see yourself as falling into either the science or humanities category, don’t panic. Margery Fee, the Associate Dean of Arts at UBC, says that some students choose to take a science minor in arts or an arts minor in science. Comments Fee, "I think it’s unfortunate that science and arts faculties have become so separate and we are really working here to bring them closer together."

It may be assuring for you to know that you can change your mind even after you finish your degree. Someone with a Bachelor of Science may want to receive a Masters in Journalism and work for a science journal. Another person might decide to go into medicine after completing their Bachelor of Arts. It basically boils down to your personal interests, and who’s to say these won’t change.

So if you can’t decide what to do, don’t fret. Both choices can be rewarding, so you win either way you pick. And if you don’t want to choose between the two, combine them. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you must only pick one or the other. Do what you like to do and you will succeed.