December 11, 2004

Nothing Minor About a Major

by Armen

Going through the NY Times today, I noticed several letters reacting to this article by David Koeppel on college kids choosing a major.

A little context: To summarize, the article talks about the marketability of majors and how college kids choose majors blah blah blah. This has been a recent topic of news stories because of some research about average salary by major.

When I first heard of the research, I wondered (don't bother clicking link, it's all reproduced here, just another shameless self-advertisement): "what the (reverse) correlation is to the major's starting salary and its frequency among the law school ranks. This history and psychology major makes no prejudgments." To my (shock, dismay, joy, whatever), the second letter was the following:

To the Editor:

I can live with your sweeping assertion that philosophy majors like me are in for a lifetime of financial duress. But I must take exception to your portrayal of the discipline as somehow unconnected with the practical world of business.

The study of philosophy is not some quixotic, abstract escapade for lovers and dreamers. More than ever, it's about the study of logical systems and the development and defense of argument. Upon graduation, philosophy majors possess top-flight writing skills and may have even used a spreadsheet. Each year, pre-law students flock to logic classes because the class provides a solid foundation and background for the LSAT.

I'm glad that I didn't fritter away my college years worrying about how my choice of major would affect my ability to stockpile disposable income over the duration of my life. I have to say I feel prepared if ever I should aspire to the task.

Seth Barnes

Old Orchard Beach, Me.

Dec. 5, 2004

Crap! It sounds like my hunch was right. I have a lot of thoughts on this matter but not the time to lay them out. My concerns in general are the following: Why do people presume that one's major plays more of a role in one's career path than skills acquired outside the major, networking, etc.? More specifically, how many people begin the law school process because they don't know what to do with their degree (see Seth Barnes)? Related to this, I don't know how many different versions of "_______ is the best major for law school" have passed me by. At latest count the following have filled the blank ("Poli Sci because judiciary is part of government," "Philosophy because of how you think," "Engineering/Math/CS because of how you think," "Journalism because someone said it's something about how lawyers think," and last but not least, "Everyone knows the best major for law is English." Much like my personal palm reader, I don't think any of these statements have any credibility to them. Here's a thought: Maybe the secret to law school is how YOU think!

Oh and if you're an engineer and in law school, GET OUT, us liberal arts majors need the space.

[Update: For those of you interested in money and college, you might want to consider this obligatory BCS reference when choosing a school]

December 11, 2004 05:29 AM | TrackBack

There is one categorically correct answer to the question "What major is best if I want to go to law school?":

Whichever one will give you the highest GPA.

Posted by: wingsandvodka at December 12, 2004 01:35 AM


Posted by: Armen at December 12, 2004 01:38 AM

Engineering, accounting, or nursing (if you like those things.) Because then you can get a job and make enough to pay for law school rather than mortgage your soul.

Posted by: arbitraryaardvark at January 4, 2005 01:46 PM
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