Life after SIUClassics: Where Do We Go from Here?
Who knew that learning so much about the past could prepare you so well for your future?
Classics is a versatile and broadly applicable field of study that prepares you for a satisfying career and a fully-engaged life.
In today’s ever-changing marketplace, many technical and technological skills will be obsolete within mere months of graduation. Employers seek to hire someone who can adapt quickly to the intellectual challenges of the job: someone who can not only pick up the practical skills to get things done, but also see the underlying theories and structures, and how to improve upon them.
Classics majors think clearly, read deeply, and balance a keen attention to detail with an understanding of larger trends and theories.
Fields of Employment
Classics majors can be found in every nearly every sector of the marketplace: medicine, business, education, civil service, engineering and tech... But Classics majors, bibliophiles that we are, tend to cluster in publishing, library science, and museum studies.
Whatever your interest, consider applying for an internship or even just volunteering in your area of interest to see if it’s really for you. You’ll learn what that career is all about (and what you’ll need to do to get your dream job) as well as build some connections with people in the field.
Don’t be afraid to take some time after your BA to figure out what you want to do. Explore different types of work, or spend a year doing AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps, or teaching English abroad.
Interested in teaching Latin? Public elementary and secondary schools will require you to have a professional educator’s license. Private and parochial schools may not require it, but it will be to your advantage to have one. And, it’ll make you a better teacher.
SIU does not have a standalone Latin Teacher Education program. There are a few options to get licensure:
1) You can add Latin as an endorsement to a pre-existing SIU program (Foreign Language, English, Social Sciences, etc.). You’ll enroll in the Teacher Education Program in the College of Education and Human Services in the pre-existing program, then take coursework in Latin (24 hours) and the Latin subject area test. Your teaching observation and student teaching will be in your primary area (Foreign Language, English, etc.).
2) Enroll in a Master of Arts in Teaching Latin program after graduation. These programs combine further coursework in Latin with a teaching licensure program. They typically require 1-2 years to complete, and may or may not offer tuition remission, a teaching assistantship, and a stipend. By the end you will have a better grasp of Latin and licensure to teach Latin in the state where the program is housed. Be warned, though, that you will need to have a good amount of Latin under your belt to be admitted to these programs. The geographically closest MAT program is the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
More School: Law School, Med School, and Grad School
Classics majors are incredibly successful at being accepted into and excelling at professional schools and grad schools. Take it from the Princeton Review:
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.
Need more proof? See Discovery Magazine: https://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2012/01/classicists-are-smart/#.UpQWimR4bqg
Classical Language majors average 619 on the GRE Verbal, 633 on GRE Math. Classics majors (the distinction is unclear to us, too) average 609 on Verbal, 616 on Math. These are based on pre-2011 scores, so are out of 800. The averages for all GRE-takers in 2009, by the way, are 456 Verbal and 590 Math.
The Professoriate: Be Just Like Us
Working in Classics at the post-secondary level is a combination of teaching and research. Some institutions are more focused on teaching (particularly of undergraduates), while others are more research-oriented. SIU is an example of a middle-ground: faculty members write papers and books that advance the field, but you’ll still see them teaching lower-division courses.
A PhD in Classics is all but required to teach Classics at a university. That means 6-10 additional years of schooling (after the BA) in which you’ll expand your knowledge of the ancient world and hone your skills at translating Latin and Greek (and French and German and Italian). The PhD culminates in the writing of the dissertation, a substantial work of original research that contributes new information or interpretations to the field.
Most graduate programs will offer a tuition waiver, a teaching or research assistantship or fellowship, and a stipend. This means that you should not have to pay to go to graduate school. The graduate stipend is never very glamorous, but it should be enough to get by if you’re frugal. Stay away from programs that will not offer you sufficient support. To prepare for graduate school, take as many Classics and ancient-related courses as you can. The GRE will be required, too.
Being a Classics professor is a pretty good gig: we have the freedom to design courses the way we think best, and to read books and write papers on whatever we find interesting. But you are hereby forewarned: these great gigs are few and far between, and there are always many, many more applicants than there are jobs. So if you choose to go this route, go to grad school in Classics because you love the material and are willing to devote years of your life to it—not because you want to get a job being a professor.