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Monday, April 07, 2008

“My Mother Was Like, What Are You Going to Do With That?”

According to an article in yesterday’s New York Times, the number of philosophy majors at various college campuses around the country, as well as the number of colleges offering a major in philosophy, has been “ballooning.”  Apparently, students are discovering that the analytical skills one develops studying philosophy prove useful in any number of different fields, including law.  For law professors, this is good news: in my experience, there really is no better preparation for law school than an undergraduate degree in philosophy. 

Of course, the prospective philosophy major needs to get past the dreaded moment in which she gives her parents notice of her fateful decision.  The Times article relates the story of Ms. Didi Onejeme, now a senior at Rutgers, applying to law school, who changed her major from pre-med to philosophy. “My mother was like, what are you going to do with that?” said Ms. Onejeme. “She wanted me to be a pharmacy major, but I persuaded her with my argumentative skills.”

I remember a similar conversation with my own father many years ago. He was a practical man, raised in the Depression; he made it through Temple University as a pre-med in a little over two years.  He thought I was nuts, but in the end he was supportive.  Now my older son Sam is a freshman at Swarthmore, where he's taking his first course in philosophy.  He says he loves it, but he’s leaning more towards a major in history. 

Posted by Stuart Green on April 7, 2008 at 11:32 AM in Life of Law Schools | Permalink


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I agree, philosophy is excellent training for law school. Particularly logic, but any class where you pick apart arguments analytically is likely to be good preparation.

I also think history was pretty good preparation too, but the payoff is less direct.

Posted by: Bruce Boyden | Apr 7, 2008 10:07:58 PM

Perhaps Ms. Onejeme should become an English major instead: her "argumentative" skills?!?

Posted by: kay | Apr 7, 2008 1:24:15 PM

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