Why Study Classics? Why not?

This one’s been lurking in my email box for a while … tip o’ the pileus to Dr Stephen Glass (emeritus, Pitzer College) who sent this along fom The Princeton Review: Guide to College Majors: 2004

“A classics major offers the opportunity to explore the beliefs and achievements of antiquity, and to learn just how profoundly they still affect contemporary civilization.

If you major in classics, you’ll learn Greek or Latin (or both). You’ll also read the great literary and philosophical works composed in these languages. Be forewarned, though: reading The Odyssey in the original Greek is a little on the demanding side. You’ll study ancient art, architecture, and technology too, and you’ll learn about Greek and Roman legal systems, social institutions, religious practices, and class distinctions.

We can’t overstate the value of a classics major. Check this out: According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, students who have a major or a double major in classics have a better success rate getting into medical school than do students who concentrate solely in biology, microbiology, and other branches of science. Crazy huh? Furthermore, according to Harvard Magazine, classics majors (and math majors) have the highest success rates of any majors in law school. Believe it or not, political science, economics and pre-law majors lag fairly far behind. Furthermore, classics majors consistently have some of the highest scores on the GRE of all undergraduates.

Shocked? Don’t be. One reason classics majors are so successful is that they completely master grammar. Medical terminology, legal terminology, and all those ridiculously worthless vocabulary words on the GRE (and the SAT) have their roots in Greek and Latin. Ultimately, though, classics majors get on well in life because they develop intellectual rigor, communications skills, analytical skills, the ability to handle complex information, and above all, a breadth of view which few other disciplines can provide.

… I think this (or something similar) is what was causing a kerfuffle back in December: Why Study Classics? Does It Get You Into Med School?. Whatever the case, I tend to think that last sentence is probably the best summing up of the benefits of Classics for the so-called ‘real world’ that I’ve read in a long time.

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