My roommate is a political science major and I’ve realized that even in his senior year there’s really nothing he’s being asked to do that he couldn’t have four years ago. He’s a really smart guy who’s going to a t14 law school next fall but virtually none of that has to do with the curriculum. He could’ve showed up to his senior thesis day one and pumped out a respectable product.
If you asked me to do the econ thesis four years ago there are skills, computer programs, and procedures that I didn’t know about and would have had a very difficult time learning outside a classroom. For me, college was a human-capital-building experience where I learned things that I will do.
For the humanities, the focus is not on the things but the process of reading and writing about the things. These are important skills but they are far more common than statistical skills or nursing skills and so to stand out you need to be excellent (like my roommate). In this sense, humanities education works as a signal of ability while technical education develops it.
The result is a lot of people overrating their own skills and complaining about the value of college. I think a lot of the variance in people’s experiences in college and their career outcomes probably has to do with this distinction.