Who designed the water faucet? How did a Caesarean section get its name? Was Homer really blind? Why should you beware of Greeks bearing gifts? The answers to these and many other questions are yours for the knowing if you major in Classics – the study of the languages, literatures, and cultures of ancient Greece and Rome. 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). Be forewarned, though: reading the Odyssey in the original Greek is a little on the demanding side. You’ll also read the great literary and philosophical works composed in these languages. 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 overestimate the value of a Classics major. Check this out: according to Association of American Medical Colleges, students who major or 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. Even furthermore, Classics majors consistently have some of the highest scores on GREs 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.
In a word: Latin. Take as much high school Latin as possible. If you don’t want to take Latin, or it’s too late for you to start, take some foreign language class, so you can become familiar with grammatical structure and translating from one language to another. History and literature courses are important as well.