Confessions of a Philosophy Major

philosophy readings
philosophy readings
I’m not as inclined to sell back these books at the end of the school year. | Photo by Yasmin Gentry

Second to our first names, it seems to me that the most impending question we college students desire to know about one another is what we study. This standard practice isn’t surprising, given our subconscious nature of comparing and contrasting ourselves in order to deduce compatibility.

While I never have any hesitation in telling others what I study, I brace myself for the response I often receive in return when I say I study philosophy:

“So, uh, what are you going to do with that?”

Others are more direct:

“How are you going to get a job after college?”

As young Americans are increasingly encouraged to seek STEM-derived (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) degrees, liberal arts and humanities majors are surely tired of being asked the aforementioned question. There is nothing more insulting than even the mild suggestion that your field of study is quickly becoming obsolete.

I raise this issue with emphasis on one of my own fields of study– philosophy –because I think it may be one of the more misunderstood liberal arts majors. I don’t believe philosophy is disrespected, but rather, undervalued.

We read Plato and Immanuel Kant and Adam Smith, among others. Off of their writings, we both analyze and refute their claims in open discussion. It is this exploration of ideas, that propels me to feel more prepared for whatever I eventually do in the professional world than others would believe.

Don’t believe me? Then believe the statistics to back it up:

  • Results from the 2013 GRE indicate that philosophy students scored highest among all majors on both the verbal and analytical writing sections.
  • Philosophy majors furthermore have the highest law school acceptance rate of all majors (82.4 percent), probably in part because they also rank first in LSAT scores.
  • And, just so my parents stop worrying, this chart on salary increases by major is somewhat reassuring.

It’s nice to know that the philosophy majors who came before me turned out alright, too. (Studs Terkel, Dostoevsky, Carl Icahn, and Ricky Gervais, for example.)

Hopefully, those reading this now know that philosophy isn’t quite as useless as it has been portrayed. But what is philosophy, anyhow?

As my best friend and fellow philosophy major puts it, “We’re naturally inclined to be philosophers.”

Philosophy is all-encompassing in the most simple terms, starting with the familiar question: why?

You can philosophize about anything, really– science, art, religion, government (my personal favorite)– anything society and culture throw at us. Philosophy is the questioning and reasoning of human nature.

Most importantly, philosophy is a search for a deeper understanding of the the world around us– and that’s why I truly appreciate it. I value seeking the root of the issue or observation at hand to satisfy what I believe is a natural human curiosity.

I would encourage any student to take at least one philosophy course within their four collegiate years. I had zero expectations my freshman year when I walked into my Politics and Philosophy lecture. Soon, a general requirement class turned into a passion, and eventually a dead-on pursuit I have little desire to walk away from.

 Do what you love, love what you do. Feel like you’re also studying something others don’t take seriously? Proudly drop a comment below! 

About Yasmin Gentry

Yasmin Gentry (COM, CAS '16) hails from Chicagoland and studies communications and philosophy at BU. Aside from her love of writing about nothing at all in particular for the Quad, Yasmin appreciates a good cup of Earl Grey, cheers on the Chicago Blackhawks, and loves running around the Charles.

View all posts by Yasmin Gentry →

3 Comments on “Confessions of a Philosophy Major”

  1. Interesting article, but I think your statistics for the LSAT are wrong (check your data again). I believe physics/math comes in first score-wise and it is philosophy that comes in second. Still pretty good.

    1. Hi! Thanks for the read. I did go back and check my resources, and I believe I am correct with the LSAT statistics! Check out my hyperlinks in the article! I believe physics and math majors do rank higher on quantitative reasoning on the GRE, though, and perhaps overall on the GRE. Again, I appreciate the read! -Yasmin

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