Humanities subjects are ideally studied through an extensive and sustained engagement with the written texts that you’re given (whether books, magazines, newspapers or paintings); it is not something that you can cram in at the end of the semester. You should read systematically, ask plenty of questions, and discuss them openly with your colleagues, instructors, fellow students and family members. The only way you can learn to think deeply about a topic is by actually thinking about it. This makes it a good fit for anyone who likes reading and writing, and who enjoys getting into difficult philosophical and historical questions.
All humanities courses involve some level of debate. This is normal and expected, but you should keep in mind that you will be engaged in these discussions for the duration of your degree program. It’s okay to stray a little from the main discussion if you feel uncomfortable. In fact, humanities professors often encourage students to have a little bit of “spontaneous” discussions so they can get a feel for how this type of learning works.
Think about how your professor interacts with other students. Some of them don’t always seem to listen when they’re talking, and you’ll find that most humanities professors are really interested in what you have to say. If you don’t hear comments like these, be polite, but don’t hold back; don’t let someone intimidate you.
Most of the time you’ll be doing humanities class together with other students. You’ll be studying together in the same room, sharing lectures and other assignments, and discussing ideas, essays, and problems with one another. Some professors even make their students read aloud from the texts they have assigned.
Sometimes humanities professors will give you a short assignment during the first couple weeks of your program. These assignments can be as simple as reading a section of a book or just answering a question or two, or you can write an essay to present something new to the class. Whatever the case, these assignments are usually very brief and don’t require any homework.
Most humanities classes include at least one class discussion. You may be required to write a research paper at the end of each semester, or you might be asked to contribute to a group project. However, you should expect to take part in at least one class discussion, as long as you want to take part in the discussions, and you feel comfortable participating in the conversations.
If you feel that you may be overwhelmed by the rigors of a humanities program, or if you want to know more about a particular subject you’re interested in, talk to your professor before you start. He or she can answer any questions you have, and guide you in the right direction. You might also be able to find a group of other students who are in the same position as you; you may be able to help them find the right humanities professor for their needs.
As mentioned above, there are several types of humanities programs. Some of them are residential, while others are campus-based. Whether you’re looking for a program in the humanities to complete as an independent student, or whether you’re looking for a community college, vocational school, or even an online college, it’s important to find the right program for you.
You will need to complete coursework in each class you complete, and you may be required to write your own research papers. In some cases you will be required to do both. It’s important to research the various different courses you can take and decide which ones you want to pursue, and which ones will help you in your future career. The humanities degree is a major that helps you get a job in the field you are interested in and build a foundation for your future.
Finding the right school for your needs is very important. Your future depends on it, so don’t put it off.