According to a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, the number of History majors in the U.S. is sinking faster than a ball bearing in a toilet bowl — from 34,642 in 2008 to 24,255 in 2017. At this pace, the last History major will put down the toilet seat and flush shortly before 2040.
Over the past two months, reporters from University Life have interviewed dozens of undergraduates across the country in an attempt to pinpoint the causes of this precipitous decline. Here’s a sampling of what students told us:
Melanie Z., Providence College: “Hey, I’m all about the future, not the past. There’s nothing I can do about what’s already happened. I mean, what’s the point? Geez!”
Gregory B., University of Wyoming: “Studying history is way too much like talking with my girlfriend. She always wants to focus on what I said to her last week, and how she felt about what I said, and how she reacted to how she felt, and how I didn’t listen to her when she told me how she felt about what I said, and how my not listening to her has hurt our relationship, and what it all means.
“For the love of God, would you please shut the ____ up! Can’t we just have some sex this afternoon and move on? Do we have to relive every freakin’ moment of our lives?
“Excuse me, what was your question again?”
Barry L., College of Charleston: “Sorry, but there’s no way I’m going to major in something that requires me to read about dead people I never knew, who lived in countries I’ll never visit and can’t even pronounce. ‘Kyrgyzstan’? ‘Namibia’? Are you kidding me?”
Hannah J., Emory University: “My roommate Gina and I took a U.S. History course last semester and learned all about how there was slavery and stuff way back in the 1800s in the South. Now Gina won’t talk to me because I’m white, and she’s black. That class totally screwed up our friendship. She won’t even let me borrow her sweaters any more, and we’re the same size! I am so done with History!”
Tim G., University of Rochester: “You ever try to pick up a girl at a party by saying something witty about the Code of Hammurabi or the Franco-Prussian War? It’s hopeless. They just stop drinking and stare at you, neither of which is good. Psychology courses are way better at giving you material to work with. My favorite Psych concept is cognitive-behavioral therapy. Females absolutely love it. Just make sure to maintain eye contact when talking about the feelings component. Works every time. Well, almost every time.”
History professors, the clock is ticking. Act soon, or your discipline will soon become history.