Since the fact that we don’t have majors is very unique, we get a lot of questions about it–particularly from parents! Since we get versions of this question so often, we thought it would be worth re-publishing an answer here. I’ve paraphrased an email I received, and posted the reply in full.
From: Prospective Student
Sent: Tuesday, March–
To: Conway, David <David.Conway@sjc.edu>
I’ve been eagerly discussing St. John’s in the past few months. My parents are excited, as well, but are concerned about the fact that St. John’s does not have majors. Specifically, they are worried about what that would mean in regards to my future career interest.
Why would going to St. John’s be more beneficial than a normal university? What would graduating from St. John’s with a Liberal Arts degree look like for my future?
I hear those sorts of worries a lot, and I absolutely understand. I think the St. John’s education is the opposite of limiting—one of the coolest thing about St. John’s is the sheer variety of fields we Johnnies end up in after graduating.
For instance, consider this:
Lydia Polgreen, current editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, didn’t get her bachelor’s in journalism.
John Johnson III, the co-founder of Buzzfeed, didn’t start out in computer science or business.
Jill Dahlburg, the Superintendent of the Naval Research Laboratory’s Space Science Division, didn’t get a bachelor’s in Astronomy.
William Nooter, who has served as a judge on the D.C. Superior Court since being nominated to the position by President Obama in 2013, didn’t go pre-law.
And Dr. Steven Holland, who is in charge of the NIAID intramural research division of the National Institutes of Health, didn’t go pre-med.
In fact, despite their disparate fields, each and every one of these people has the exact same undergraduate degree—a BA in Liberal Arts from St. John’s. And that’s just a handful of the many incredible careers our alumni go on to have.
There is a general misconception that majors define what you can and can’t do after college. There are a lot of articles that discuss this from different angles, like this piece from the New York Times, or this one from Forbes, or this report published by the Wall Street Journal.
Most of these articles emphasize that what employers look for is graduates who can think critically, work collaboratively, and communicate effectively—all skills that St. John’s students hone each and every day in each and every class.
There are many other colleges where students may and do learn these skills, but I can’t think of another place where they are as central and essential to the student experience as they are here.
Or to put it another way, someone who can learn to read, discuss, and write about everything from Maxwell to Aristotle, quantum theory to Greek, Einstein to Hobbes, moral philosophy to non-Euclidian geometry, can learn and be anything—and we do and are.
Featured Image: Meem Library, on our Santa Fe campus