Should you study history in college? Is it worth your time and money being a history student? In this post, we’ll go over the benefits of studying history and show you why it might be right for you. Whether you’re still undecided or just starting to think about your choice of study, here’s some advice on studying history!
What’s History and What Do Historians Study?
In the broadest sense, history is the study of the human past. Historians try to understand why and how people behaved in the past and how events shaped their lives. To do this, historians draw on a variety of sources, including written documents, archeological finds, and oral testimony.
When studying history, historians ask a variety of questions. They ask what happened, why it happened, and what effect it had on people at the time. They may also ask if there were any long-term effects of the event.
For example, historians might study the American Revolution to understand its causes and consequences. They might also study how the Revolution affected the development of the United States in the years that followed. In general, historians try to answer questions about change over time. They want to know how things changed and why they changed.
Historians generally fall into two camps: those who study the “big picture” of history (social or public historians) and those who focus on specific individuals or events (biographers or micro historians). Regardless of their approach, all historians share a common goal: to piece together the puzzle of the past and better understand the present.
What Historians Actually Do
A typical day in the life of a historian may involve reading primary sources in an archive, conducting interviews, sifting through secondary sources in a library, teaching a class, writing an article or book, or giving a public lecture.
Primary sources are first-hand accounts, such as diaries, letters, and eyewitness accounts. Secondary sources are second-hand accounts, such as textbooks and journal articles.
As you can see, there are a variety of activities in historical study. However, the focus is on research: without evidence, there would be no history.
The Advantages of Studying History
Learning about history can be beneficial in many ways.
- For one, it can contribute to a better understanding of the present. Understanding the events and trends that have shaped our world can help us better appreciate the world we live in today. It helps us better understand ourselves as people and our place in society.
- In addition, history can serve as a valuable guide to the future. If we understand the mistakes of the past, we can work to avoid them in the future.
- Finally, the study of history can help train critical thinking skills. The ability to examine evidence and draw well-reasoned conclusions is an important life skill that can be developed through the study of history.
In summary, there are many good reasons to study history. Those who do can develop a better understanding of the world around them, learn from past mistakes, and sharpen their critical thinking skills.
The Challenges of Studying History
There are many reasons why someone chooses to study history. For some, it’s a way to better understand the world around them. Others may be interested in learning about specific historical periods or events.
However, there are also some challenges that come with studying history.
One of the most common challenges is the sheer amount of information that’s out there. It can be difficult to know where to start or what to focus on.
In addition, much of the material available is biased or the opinions of people who weren’t there. This can make it difficult to get an accurate picture of what really happened.
When you study history, you’re trying to piece together information from a variety of sources, many of which were created a long time ago and may not be entirely reliable. Another challenge is that history is often presented in a linear fashion, but in reality, it’s much more complex than that. There are often multiple causes for historical events, and it can be difficult to decipher them all.
Another challenge is that history often repeats itself. This can be frustrating when trying to learn from past mistakes, but it can also provide valuable lessons about human nature.
Despite these challenges, studying history can be a very rewarding experience. It offers insights into the past and can help us make better decisions in the present.
How to Get Started Studying History
Many people choose to study history because they want to learn about the past and understand how it’s shaped the present. But getting started in the study of history can be daunting. There are thousands of years of history to choose from, and it can be difficult to know where to start.
Here are a few tips for getting started in historical scholarship:
- Choose a time period that interests you: Whether you’re interested in ancient civilizations, medieval Europe, or the 20th century, there’s a time period that fits you. Once you decide on a time period, you can focus on specific events or topics.
- Read primary sources: One of the best ways to learn about history is to read first-hand accounts of the events that took place. You can find primary sources in libraries, archives, and on the Internet.
- Use secondary sources: In addition to primary sources, historians also use secondary sources, such as books and articles written by other historians. These can be helpful in providing context and background information.
- Ask questions: When studying history, it’s important to ask questions and seek answers. Don’t be afraid to ask your professor questions or search for answers online.
- Consider your options: The study of history can take many forms, from the “big picture” to the “small details.” It may mean that you study the history of a country, a region, a city, or even a neighborhood. It can mean that you focus on a specific time period or event, or that you study the lives and experiences of individuals.
- Expect to be challenged: No matter what type of history you study, it’ll likely take some time to gain a deeper understanding of the material. It takes time to figure out what questions you want to ask and how to approach historical evidence. This will likely be a difficult process, but that’s an important part of learning.
The Different Types of Historical Research
When you’re considering whether to study history, it’s important to know the different types of historical research.
One of the most common types of research is primary source research, which involves examining original documents from the time period being studied. This type of research can be very valuable in understanding the events of the past, but it can also be time-consuming and difficult to find primary sources that are relevant to your topic.
Another type of historical research is secondary source research, in which you study sources written about the time period you’re studying. This type of research can be easier than primary source research, but it’s important to remember that secondary sources are often biased or incomplete.
You may consider oral research, which involves interviewing people who’ve personal experience with the event or time period you’re researching. This type of research can provide a unique perspective on the story, but it’s important to ensure that your interviewees are reliable and trustworthy sources.
When considering whether to study history, it’s important to understand the different types of historical research in order to make a good decision about which path to take.
The Different Types of History Degrees
There’s a wide range of options when it comes to history degrees, both in terms of content and emphasis.
For example, some programs emphasize political history, while others focus on social or economic history. There are also areas of study in art history, international relations, and political science.
There are also differences in terms of geographic scope: some programs focus on a specific region or country, while others take a more global perspective. For example, you might study African History, or Native American history, or choose alternatively a degree in the study of western civilization or European History.
In addition, some programs offer specializations in specific time periods, such as ancient history or modern history. Therefore, it’s important to research the different types of history majors carefully before deciding on a major.
A bachelor’s degree in history provides students with a broad overview of historical events, eras, and people. Students pursuing a master’s degree in history often specialize in a particular area, such as American history or world history. Those who earn a doctorate in history typically teach at the college level or conduct research.
The content of the degree is obviously an important consideration, but it’s also worth thinking about the practical applications of a history degree.
For example, many students choose to study history to prepare for careers in education or law. Others use their degrees to pursue careers in fields such as museum curation or historic preservation.
However, many people also choose to study history in a history course via distance learning, or online, simply because they’re passionate about the subject and want to learn more about the past.
Career Opportunities for Historians
A career in history can be a very rewarding experience. There are many different opportunities as a history graduate, and each offers its own challenges and rewards.
Here are just a few of the most popular career paths for history graduates:
- Museums: one popular option for historians is to work in a museum. Museums offer the opportunity to share your love of history with the public and help preserve important artifacts and historic sites. Museum jobs range from working as a curator to giving tours to working in education or marketing.
- Academics: another option for historians is a career in academia. Academia offers the opportunity to conduct research, teach at universities, and write books and articles about your field. Jobs in higher education can be very competitive, but they also offer a lot of freedom and flexibility.
- History Clubs: History clubs are another option for those interested in a career in history. Historical societies typically focus on preserving local history and providing educational resources to the community. The responsibilities of historical societies include research, writing, administration, and education.
- Government: there are also many opportunities for historians to work in government. A government job can range from working as an archivist to working as a policy analyst. Government jobs are often very stable, but also very challenging.
- Historic preservation: another option for as a professional historian is to work in a field related to historic preservation, such as museum curation or historic preservation. Historic preservation jobs can require travel, but they also allow you to work with some of the most important historic resources. Digital history is becoming increasingly important, as we move into the next generations of technology.
- Historians can also work freelance, such as in the media, which means they can choose to work on their own or for various employers. Freelance careers can be very rewarding, but also very difficult, especially for those who don’t have much experience. Personally, after studying Russia and Soviet Studies at degree level (which included several papers on various aspects of Russian history and politics), I ended up directing documentary films for twenty years!
- In addition, many historians accept one- or two-year fellowships that give them the opportunity to conduct research at a prestigious institution. These fellowships are an excellent way to distinguish yourself academically and make valuable contacts.
Here’s How to Decide if Studying History Is Right for You
There are many factors to consider when choosing your major. Some people find the decision easy – they’ve always been interested in a particular subject or they know exactly what they want to do with their lives.
But for others, the decision is much more difficult. If you’re struggling with the decision of whether to major in history, there are a few things you should consider.
- Ask yourself why you want to study history. Is it because you’re interested in the past, or because you want to learn more about the world around you? There’s no wrong answer – both reasons are perfectly valid. However, your answer will help you narrow down your options and choose a focus for your studies.
- Think about what you want to get out of studying history. Do you want to improve your writing skills? Develop a better understanding of the world? Advance in your career? Again, there’s no right or wrong answer – it’s just important to know what you want so you can choose a major that will help you achieve your goals.
- Consider what kind of history interests you. Do you want to study recent history or a specific time period? Are you interested in politics or economics? Are you interested in the big picture or do you want to focus on the lives of specific individuals? Again, there’s no right or wrong answer – it’s just important that you have a basic understanding of what you want to study.
- You should think about what you want to do with your history degree. Do you want to teach? Write? Work in a museum? Work in government? Work in historic preservation? Or do you just want to learn more about the past? Again, there’s no right or wrong answer, but thinking about your goals will help you narrow down your options and explore the different paths you can take.
What Skills Will I Gain if I Study History?
Many people believe that studying history is a waste of time because it’s no direct impact on their lives. However, that’s far from the truth!
By studying history, you can develop a number of skills that will be invaluable in both your personal and professional life.
First of all, history as a subject helps you develop critical thinking skills. To truly understand historical events, you must be able to question assumptions and examine the evidence. This process of questioning and analyzing will help you see the world in a different way and make better-informed decisions.
In addition, being a history major will help you develop your research skills. To be a good historian, you must be able to find and evaluate sources of information. This skill is useful not only for historians but also for anyone who needs to do research for work or school.
Finally, studying history can also improve your writing skills. A good historian must be able to communicate his or her ideas clearly and concisely. If you want to improve your writing skills, studying history is a great way to do so!
How History Can Help Us in the Future
Many people believe that history is nothing more than a collection of facts and figures. However, the study of history can actually give us a better understanding of the world we live in and the forces that shape it.
By studying the past, and our collective memory, we can see how different cultures and civilizations have developed over time. We can also learn about the major events that shaped our world, such as the Industrial Revolution or the two world wars.
In addition, we can learn valuable lessons from history about what works and what doesn’t in society. For example, we can learn how attempts were made in the past to create utopian societies and how they ultimately failed.
So studying history can help us make more informed decisions about the future.
Why People Find History Boring
One of the most common complaints about history is that it’s boring. This is often because people feel they already know what happened, or because they find the details of past events in the Roman Empire, etc, dry and uninteresting.
However, there are many good reasons to study history, even if you find the history class boring at first.
For one thing, history can help you understand the present. If we know where we come from, we can better understand why things are the way they are today.
Also, history can provide valuable lessons about human behavior. It can show us what worked and what didn’t in the past and help us make better decisions in the future.
Finally, studying history can give us a new perspective. It can remind us that our problems are often not as big as we think and that we’ve faced and overcome such challenges before.
For many people, the study of history is boring because it seems like a never-ending list of dates and names. But history is so much more than that! It’s the story of human experience, full of drama, conflict, heroism, and tragedy. It helps us understand who we’re and where we come from.
That’s why the study of history has always been associated with kings and emperors: it’s one of the primary skills you need to lead and govern well!