Why Study Classics

Encompassing language (Latin/Greek), ancient history, mythology, literature, philosophy, and cultural studies, the life-enhancing knowledge of a Classics major is rooted in history and timeless. The knowledge attained through studying ancient Greece and Rome, far from being obscure or irrelevant, is part of our everyday experience-- whether it's understanding the foundation of our government and constitution, translating the language on our currency, knowing what an "alibi" is on "Law & Order," or understanding that a Pyrrhic victory isn't much of a victory after all.

The bottom line: Classics majors are intelligent people. Colleges know this-- high school students who study Latin generally score higher on the SAT, and Classics majors score higher on the GRE.  Intelligent people end up in all sorts of careers-- and usually as leaders. You will find doctors, lawyers, corporate CEO's, bankers, consultants, etc., with Classics degrees. Some Classics majors, of course, become teachers and professors.

Classics majors have taken on a rigorous course of study which requires mental discipline and hard work. Students must not only pay strong attention to detail, but also develop a worldly outlook and a fascination with history. Studying the Classics can produce stronger vocabulary skills, an understanding of phonetic principles, logical thinking, problem solving skills, critical analysis of complex information and situations, understanding and appreciating other perspectives, and critical listening skills. A Classics major provides a unique perspective on life, culture, the arts, philosophy, literature, and leadership.

But how do you deal with that dreaded moment when someone learns you are a Classics major and asks: "What are you going to do with that?!?"

Well, first of all, your major is not a hammer. You're not going to "do" anything with it. Your major is a body of knowledge, a way of thinking-- the mindsets and skills you have acquired. The more relevant question is: How are you going to apply your knowledge, mindsets and skills in the workplace? In other words, how will your Classics major help you THINK and ACT in whatever career you select? After all, you will have several careers and many jobs over a lifetime and the Classics major in your head will follow you everywhere.

Above excerpts are adapted from "Classics Majors Find Their Future in the Past" by Katharine Brooks, Ed.D. Used with permission

The American Classical League