When I first made the decision to add a philosophy minor to my degree, I braced for the worst. I know the negative reactions that people with philosophy degrees often get from others. There are always the constant jokes that a philosophy degree is a degree before working as a Starbucks barista or Waffle House cook. I knew my family would be quick to scoff at the notion.

"College is already so expensive! Why are you adding something useless to your degree? Couldn't you go for, like, a business degree? Everyone is looking for someone with a degree in business management!"

In reality, nothing could be farther from the truth. My time in philosophy classes has taught me more than in any other student.

Sure, the practical knowledge that comes from considering the idea of simulation theory or Kantian ethics might be a little muddled. Sure, I might use the things I learn in a math class or in a computer programming class more explicitly in a future career. That point is easy to concede.

However, what really makes philosophy unique is the skills that it fosters. Philosophy instills so many vital skills that would be completely lost in any "normal" degree track.

Philosophy, at its core, is the use of critical thinking and critical reading skills. Philosophy is not a hobby for light readers. Getting through the voluminous prose of Charles Peirce, John Dewey, Descartes, Kant, or any other philosopher requires intense reading and the ability to truly comprehend the complex thoughts that they are putting on paper. Philosophy taught me how to truly read a text, weed out what an author is trying to say, and conceptualize what they are trying to communicate. That is useful in any environment.

Furthermore, philosophy is a great area to improve communication and debate skills. Philosophy is a constantly fluid body of ideas that is all a conglomerate of what practically everyone thinks about everything. For everything of interest in philosophy (which is pretty much everything that can be thought of), dozens of philosophers have said dozens of different things, including some views that are polar opposites of one another. In such a crowded space, to get your views out there and believed, you have to learn how to communicate your beliefs, analyze other people's arguments, and how to respond to their arguments to defend your position. Anywhere in life where you need to prove yourself right, philosophy is the perfect practice arena.

For those of you considering adding a philosophy minor or major, do not be discouraged by what anyone says. For all the reasons above and more, you know that it is useful.

For those that still doubt philosophy, give it a shot. Take an intro to philosophy course or an intro to ethics class. If you are out of school, try to do some independent research and understand more about philosophy. Once you get there, I promise you'll be hooked.