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Author Topic: History Undergrad Major...and more  (Read 8844 times)

jayknoesbest

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History Undergrad Major...and more
« on: April 12, 2008, 09:49:43 PM »
Hi. I am a junior in high school and have been looking around the internet for some college advice for law-school bound students, and I came across these message boards. I'm hoping to get some questions answered so here goes nothing...

I currently plan on going into law and practicing for a certain amount of time before possibly going into politics. With this being the case, my question is which undergraduate major would be the best idea for me? I assume political science, but I guess you never know.

Furthermore, what is the advice on double-majoring while getting an undergraduate degree with the plan to go into law school? I ask this because I have a keen interest in history (primarily U.S.) as well as politics, and if the legal field did not work out I would highly consider going into teaching at the high school level and history would be the most likely course. I have a feeling you guys are going to suggest not double majoring so that I have time to study for the LSAT, and if that's the case, then it brings me to my next question...

In my situation, would you suggest majoring in history or political science? I am as sure as I can be (at this point, anyway) that I want to go into politics at some point. Also, if not a double major what would your opinion be on major/minor combo? Same feeling about the time-constraint on this one?...

I am very highly ranked in an extremely competitive and deep high school class but will probably not get as high of a score on the ACT to get into one of the upper-tier undergraduate schools. Right now my considerations are  DePaul (for a more moderate workload and better chance of finishing high on the GPA and class rank scale) and Loyola Chicago (which, if I'm not mistaken, has a highly acclaimed history program correct?).

I have hopes of getting into a top-tier law school which is why I want to ensure that I will do well in my four-year school. By top-tier I was thinking along the lines of Colombia, Georgetown, and possibly some lower-tier ivy league schools as my "dream." That is my goal, although I would settle for some more realistic possibilities as well for law school.

Anyways, now that you know my life plan, I'm interested to see some of the answers to my question, and thanks for reading this post (sorry for the length).

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Re: History Undergrad Major...and more
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2008, 10:15:22 PM »
This is just speculation, but I think that a degree in political science would be acceptable to teach history at the high school level. 

You should study whatever interests you the most because you are probably more likely to excel in that field.  When it comes down to it, as an applicant, you will be primarily judged on your LSAT and GPA unless you have earth shattering soft factors. 

I would also avoid going into significant debt for anything less than a highly prestigious undergraduate institution such as Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, etc.  You probably don't want to be forced to take an ultra-grueling position with a soulless law firm for ten years just to pay off your student loan debt.

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Re: History Undergrad Major...and more
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2008, 10:22:37 PM »
Also, if you have a rough start in school, a double major sounds like a good way to improve your GPA.  I'm not sure if history and political science will give you the "interdisciplinary flair" that law schools seem to like, but it won't hurt you.

It's good you are at a strong school that will advise you on things like this, at my school most of the career counseling was for people who wanted to pursue vocational careers.  When I was taking the ACT, I thought it was more of an IQ test for which one could not study.  Knowing what I know now, I would have busted my butt to prepare for the test, taking timed practice exams in a similar environment.  A few points on the ACT, much like the LSAT, can pay off significantly in scholarships, as I'm sure you are aware. 

jayknoesbest

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Re: History Undergrad Major...and more
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2008, 10:26:55 PM »
Quote
Also, if you have a rough start in school, a double major sounds like a good way to improve your GPA.  I'm not sure if history and political science will give you the "interdisciplinary flair" that law schools seem to like, but it won't hurt you.

What do you mean by "interdisciplinary flair"?

rekopter

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Re: History Undergrad Major...and more
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2008, 10:35:32 PM »
You're a junior in High School and you've already planned out a political career. I'm not sure whether I should be scared or sad.

Go to college and take a variety of courses from well-regarded professors. See what you like and major in it. Law school will come, and so will politics, if you're still interested at that time...

Cabra

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Re: History Undergrad Major...and more
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2008, 10:49:16 PM »
Hey there,
I think the best thing you can do right now is get into a college you'll love and do well there. There's a nice little book called "Making the Most of College" that you should check out: http://www.amazon.com/Making-Most-College-Students-Speak/dp/067401359X/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1208053599&sr=8-1
There's also plenty of books and advice out there on how to choose the right school for you.
And in the mean time you should study and practice for the SAT/ACT (take both, you'll do better on one) because, just like with law school, good numbers will help you get into a good college and/or to get a good scholarship.
Major in whatever you like, just take substantial classes with plenty of reading and writing and make a point to get to know a few professors--this will improve your college experience and it helps with recommendations down the line. Do a big research project or two--again, it's about getting a quality academic experience.
Have fun too.
A second major is fine--it's a great move if you end up at a big undergrad where you can only take certain classes if you are majoring in the subject. Interesting combos are always fun--like Biology/Anthropology majors or Math/Theater majors. A second major or a minor in a language is not a bad idea.
Also, apply to a wide variety of schools that you might like, especially if the financial side is an issue.
A public school is no bar to getting into a great law school (I went to a mediocre public school and now I'm headed to Columbia). But some private schools give fantastic aid packages, so it's worth seeing what you can get.
And definitely think about the kind of extracurriculars you want to be involved in. Don't wait to dive into something. Who knows if you'll stick with the Earth Group or the co-ed A Capella group, but you'll make friends and will lead you interesting places.
:)
CLS 2011

jayknoesbest

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Re: History Undergrad Major...and more
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2008, 10:51:06 PM »
You're a junior in High School and you've already planned out a political career. I'm not sure whether I should be scared or sad.

Go to college and take a variety of courses from well-regarded professors. See what you like and major in it. Law school will come, and so will politics, if you're still interested at that time...

In regards to the first comment, it's just something I'm interested in right now. I guess you could say I've been somewhat inspired to give something back to my country and to make some kind of impact, and currently that's the way I feel I can do that. It might sound kind of clicheish, but it's true.

As for well-regarded professors, I guess the problem I have is finding those well-regarded professors you speak of. Also, I'm not too crazy about being undecided in my first year, but I guess it could be a way to find out what I do like.

jayknoesbest

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Re: History Undergrad Major...and more
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2008, 10:53:54 PM »
Hey there,
I think the best thing you can do right now is get into a college you'll love and do well there. There's a nice little book called "Making the Most of College" that you should check out: http://www.amazon.com/Making-Most-College-Students-Speak/dp/067401359X/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1208053599&sr=8-1
There's also plenty of books and advice out there on how to choose the right school for you.
And in the mean time you should study and practice for the SAT/ACT (take both, you'll do better on one) because, just like with law school, good numbers will help you get into a good college and/or to get a good scholarship.
Major in whatever you like, just take substantial classes with plenty of reading and writing and make a point to get to know a few professors--this will improve your college experience and it helps with recommendations down the line. Do a big research project or two--again, it's about getting a quality academic experience.
Have fun too.
A second major is fine--it's a great move if you end up at a big undergrad where you can only take certain classes if you are majoring in the subject. Interesting combos are always fun--like Biology/Anthropology majors or Math/Theater majors. A second major or a minor in a language is not a bad idea.
Also, apply to a wide variety of schools that you might like, especially if the financial side is an issue.
A public school is no bar to getting into a great law school (I went to a mediocre public school and now I'm headed to Columbia). But some private schools give fantastic aid packages, so it's worth seeing what you can get.
And definitely think about the kind of extracurriculars you want to be involved in. Don't wait to dive into something. Who knows if you'll stick with the Earth Group or the co-ed A Capella group, but you'll make friends and will lead you interesting places.
:)

Thanks for the response, it's definitely got some helpful advice. If you don't mind me asking, which public school did you go to, and what did you do for undergrad?

Cabra

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Re: History Undergrad Major...and more
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2008, 10:55:45 PM »

As for well-regarded professors, I guess the problem I have is finding those well-regarded professors you speak of. Also, I'm not too crazy about being undecided in my first year, but I guess it could be a way to find out what I do like.

I decided to major in History right away because it would help me get preference for History classes and I had this really great history teacher in high school. Turns out that virtually all my college history classes were duds and I would have been much better off waiting a year to find out that history didn't have a lot of good teachers, but Economics, Anthropology and English really did. Lesson? Don't pigeonhole yourself too soon.
CLS 2011

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Re: History Undergrad Major...and more
« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2008, 11:11:15 PM »
Quote
Also, if you have a rough start in school, a double major sounds like a good way to improve your GPA.  I'm not sure if history and political science will give you the "interdisciplinary flair" that law schools seem to like, but it won't hurt you.

What do you mean by "interdisciplinary flair"?

Having multiple intellectual, artistic, and practical foci while avoiding being labeled a "tourist."  Someone who wants to develop multiple aspects of their person, a "Renaissance Man."  Top law schools seem to be more interested in people who are accomplished in multiple areas. 

Of course, these are soft factors and will pale in comparison to the importance of your LSAT and GPA.