"Philosophy has definitely helped me in my career... For one, I think that a philosophy major is the best possible preparation for law school. Law school is fairly unique among graduate schools in that it is primarily taught using the Socratic Method, which requires students to be able to think critically on their feet and defend their argument or point of view to the professor and other students."
Karl Mill graduated from Marist in 2007. Mr. Mill is a graduate of Columbia Law School at Columbia University, and he is working in the Trusts and Estates practice group of a large law firm in San Diego, CA. He also worked in the Mississippi Teacher Corps, and holds a Master's Degree in Teaching and Curriculum from the University of Mississippi.
Why did you major in philosophy at Marist?
I had been interested in and had read some philosophy in high school, but I was ultimately persuaded to major in philosophy by the exceptional quality of the faculty and the challenging nature of the classes. During my first year of college, at a different university, I was mostly going through the motions, not yet taking my classes seriously or inspired to work towards anything in particular . However, after taking classes with several Marist philosophy professors, each of whom had high expectations for students but were also readily accessible, I took a much greater interest in the assigned readings and on improving my own writing. The faculty were very helpful in providing feedback on my work and encouraging me to attend a couple undergraduate conferences and to try and publish some papers that I had written for their classes. That dedication of the faculty and the quality and variety of the classes they put together were what drew me to the philosophy major and made me glad that I chose it.
Has philosophy helped you in your career? How?
Philosophy has definitely helped me in my career, both directly and indirectly. For one, I think that a philosophy major is the best possible preparation for law school. Law school is fairly unique among graduate schools in that it is primarily taught using the Socratic Method, which requires students to be able to think critically on their feet and defend their argument or point of view to the professor and other students. Studying philosophy teaches students how to do just that and, at least for me, it helped eliminate the unproductive tendency to just spout personal opinions, without examining their foundation or considering the arguments of others. Even more importantly, I think philosophy has encouraged me to be thoughtful about the work I am doing or the career choices that I am making. Both in teaching and in law school, there were always strong temptations to conform to what others are doing and to take the path of least resistance, which often leads to unfortunate results. I think studying philosophy encouraged me to be conscious of that and at least try to resist those temptations so as to make decisions independently about what is right and wrong and what is worth doing.
Would you recommend the major to other students?
I would recommend philosophy as a major to other students, because of both its personal and professional benefits. While the cost of college is such that you shouldn't choose a major based only on intangible benefits while ignoring your post-graduation job prospects, I do think it matters that studying philosophy can be a very enriching and enjoyable experience on a personal level. Philosophy is still something I spend a lot of time reading, thinking about, and discussing and I do believe it has added to my life in a number of ways. As for the professional benefits, people sometimes joke about philosophy being an impractical major, but, in my experience, outside of a few majors and situations, most majors, especially liberal arts majors, are treated the same and one's major neither guarantees nor disqualifies him or her from a job. As a result, I think what matters is choosing a major is going with the subject that will inspire you to put forth the effort to make the most of the time and money you spend going to college. My philosophy major made my Marist degree more valuable, not because it had some word written on it that employers were looking for, but because I was fully invested academically and improved my skills significantly as a result. On top of that, for those students who want to go on to law school, I think a philosophy major stands out from others because it is great preparation for taking the test that law schools use for admission and for succeeding academically once you get there.