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College of Arts & Sciences

The X Majors

The X Majors

In the College of Arts & Sciences, choosing a major does not mean you are selecting a straight line toward a single career path. Liberal arts graduates develop a complex skill set that is highly valued in the job market and on graduate school applications. Life. Liberty. And the pursuit of happiness. Dr. Bill Owens describes how studying what you like—an X major—can make you more successful.

Why X?

Many of you are interested in X.

But you won't major in X because you don't see a career as an Xist. You will study Y because you want to be a Yist.

That's short-term thinking.

Consider a long game:

If you love X, as a student of X you will do well in X.

X will teach you skills and abilities such as A, B, C.

Skills A, B, C will make you a better Y.

X will have made you not only someone who knows X, but someone who can learn Y and be a Yist.

Because You Like X

Many of you are no doubt interested in the past: The story of the ancient civilizations of China, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Mexico. Or the more recent past: Why we fought the Civil War; the legacy of the New Deal; why the Soviet Union fell apart.

You are also likely to be interested in other cultures: their customs, religious beliefs, and languages.

Still others among you are probably interested in big questions: What does it mean to be a human being? What is happiness? What is a true friend?

All of these ideas and questions that you are interested in are studied in a set of disciplines known as the Humanities.

At Ohio University the Humanities disciplines are arranged in different departments:

OK—every single one of you is probably interested in at least one of the things I mentioned. But you don't see yourself as ever being an English major, or a Classics major, or a French major.

This seems like it might be surprising, that you won't consider majoring in something that interests you. But it really isn't.

You're thinking about what you'll do after you graduate from Ohio University: for very good reasons you may want to be a doctor, a lawyer, or go into business, or politics, or teaching.

And X Will Help You with Grad School and a Career

Sure, you're interested in the past, and different, cultures, and big important ideas—but how will that get you a job?

We wanted to suggest to you that that is short-term thinking. We suggest that you consider some long-term thinking.

Go back and consider what really interests you. If you are fascinated by the past, you should be a History major. If you love to read novels, major in English. If you are intrigued by the different ways that people worship God, major in World Religions—not because you'll become a historian, or an English teacher, or a professor of religion. Major in the discipline that interests you because you will do well in it.

And doing well as a History major or an English major or a World Religions major will help you be a better doctor, lawyer, or business professional.

That's because when you succeed in a discipline you love, you acquire skills that will enable you to learn and succeed in many other disciplines.

The admissions committees at professional schools know this. You are more likely to get into medical school with a 3.7 average and a Classics major than with a 2.7 average and a Biology major.

So, if you're interested in what the Humanities study, study the Humanities. Do well—and you will still be moving ahead on your career plans.

--Dr. William Owens, Chair of Classics & World Religions

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College of Arts & Sciences