College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Dear Parent(s) of Prospective Students,

At this stage, your son or daughter has suggested that they want to study Classics in college. You may be skeptical about sending your child off to spend four years studying ancient Greece and Rome. I hope that this letter will help assuage some of your worries.

The most pressing question you may have in your mind is what your child will do with a B.A. in Classical Studies. How will studying Latin, Greek, or the history and culture of the ancients help your child be gainfully employed in an ever changing and increasingly technological world?

Some students of Classics naturally see themselves as future teachers, whether at the college level or at the elementary, middle school, or high school levels. Our world will always need dedicated educators who can inspire future generations to life-long learning, that stamina that will enable students to meet the demands of uncertain futures. Though language programs of all sorts have seen decline in public schools, recent research suggests that Latin is fairing better than other languages, and we have seen an increased interest in Latin particularly from alternatives to public schools. As the public schools are cutting Latin, others interested in education are insisting on the opportunity for their children to experience the ancient world through its language.

Yet this makes only a small portion of students who will major in Classics. Gregory Petsko, Professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry at Brandeis University, who majored as an undergraduate in Classics, recently wrote, "Of all the courses I took in college and graduate school, the ones that have benefited me the most in my career as a scientist are the courses in Classics, art history, sociology, and English literature. These courses didn't just give me a much better appreciation for my own culture; they taught me how to think, to analyze, and to write clearly. None of my sciences courses did any of that."

The person who majors in Classics brings a broadly-based, interdisciplinary perspective on the world to whatever career path they choose. Classics students have thought about their place in the world and their own personal values by reading history, literature, and philosophy. They have developed a mental flexibility that will not only enable them to earn a job upon graduation, but also adapt as the job itself changes.

Some Classics students will go on to law school, applying their knowledge of ancient oratory and philosophy to their studies. Others take their passion for Latin and Greek to seminaries to pursue church ministries. Some turn their creative attention to movies and television, whether creating modern versions of ancient stories (Troy, HBOs Rome) or stories deeply rooted in Classical themes. Still others will take into the business world the skills they have acquired in analyzing texts, processing data, and formulating their own ideas.

I hope this letter has helped calm your anxieties about your child's future. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions about our Classics program here at Butler. My email address is

Good luck as you work with your child to determine the best place for them to develop into the adults they will become.


Christopher Bungard, Assistant Professor of Classical Studies