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This Stanford talk makes the case for the humanities (why philosophy is important). Partway through, he describes a period of intense personal growth and transformation of perspective. His experiences have some similarity to mine.

"I see a humanities degree as a rite of passage into intellectual adulthood. A way of evolving from sophomoric wanderer and critic, into a rounded, open, engaged intellectual citizen."

I don't think the degree is so important, but the exploration is.