Monday, February 22, 2016

History: The Underrated Major

Of all the majors at UVA one that doesn't get a lot of love, like commerce or anything in engineering, is the history major. Part of the College of Arts and Sciences history is an interesting and valuable major that UVA offers. So, without further ado, here are some things that future wahoos should know about history at UVA.

1. The incredible variety of courses
When thinking of history what might come to mind are high school classes that simply give overviews of history, from important names that you have heard of a million times to lists of dates of battles and the posting of Martin Luther's 95 theses. However, history has so much more to offer and at UVA you can take courses in African, Latin American, East Asian, European, Middle Eastern, and American history, among others. The courses range from general introductory classes to very small major seminars on specific topics or themes in history. 

2. You can take really random, weird classes
One of my favorite courses so far in my three years at UVA was in the history department called Supernatural Europe. In this class we discussed the history of supernatural beliefs and practices throughout early modern Europe. That meant that while studying for the final I got to talk about witches, vampires, werewolves, and possession by the devil, all in the name of academics. 

3. The major offers flexibility to study what interests you
To complete the major you must complete 11 history courses, though what exactly those courses will be is up to you. You must take one class in pre-1700 Europe, one in post-1700 Europe, one in U.S. History, one in African, East Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American, or South Asian history, and a major seminar, as well as 5 classes in any area you choose. Within those broad guidelines you can tailor your schedule to what you want to learn about. 

4. The professors are amazing
To list all the various awards that the professors have you take up way too much time and space but suffice it to say that they are incredibly smart, accomplished people who always have time to talk to you during their office hours and are really passionate about what they teach. Not to mention that when you declare the history major you will get the opportunity to choose which professor you would like to have as your advisor.

5. You will read a lot
But fortunately that reading is rarely in standard textbooks. Instead you will read a variety of primary and secondary sources that is more than just names and dates on a page.

6. You will learn valuable, marketable skills
Not only will you learn how to large volumes of a variety of materials and synthesize that down into the most relevant and important parts, you will also hone your writing skills, talk intelligently about disparate ideas, communicate effectively, plan and organize your time effectively, and be able to sell your major and skills with fancy and desirable language like I did here. 

If you want to learn more about the history major (or minor) check out the department website here.

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