UBC Philosophy BA ’11
Philosophy PhD student
It was an opportunity to continue doing philosophy, and to do so in a stimulating environment surrounded by brilliant and dedicated people. I felt that I’d learned so much as an undergraduate, but that there was still so much more to learn. I wanted to see how much more I could improve my thinking skills, and what progress I could make on the philosophical puzzles that interested me. I was also excited about teaching, as it was an opportunity to pass on some of what my most inspirational teachers had taught me.
It exposed me to a wide range of new ideas and genuinely absorbing problems. It challenged my most fundamental beliefs and assumptions, and made me more comfortable with uncertainty and more wary of dogma. Most importantly, it offered a method for clear thinking and for evaluating claims and arguments. It improved my analytical and interpersonal skills, and gave me a well-grounded confidence to think for myself, to defend my beliefs (or concede defeat when it was warranted), and to be creative in new ways.
If you’re considering graduate school in philosophy, be realistic and think carefully if it’s the right choice for you. It can be a great experience, but as I write this, competition for jobs in philosophy is as stiff as it’s ever been since I chose my major. So I’d only advise it if (a) you’d be fully funded and (b) you’d be happy with your decision even if you don’t get a job in philosophy after graduate school. If you do decide to apply, you can find a lot of advice online. But in short, where you go makes a big difference and it’s worth devoting a considerable amount of time to preparing the best application you can.
If you’re considering other careers but aren’t sure what to pursue, gather as much information as you can now. Undergrad is the best time to try stuff out. If you’re overwhelmed by the options but still really enjoy philosophy, I’d advise focusing most of your energy on doing well in your classes and getting as much as you can from your degree. Philosophy teaches you tons of useful (and hireable) skills. You’ll be in a better position at the end of your degree if you’ve learned a lot but don’t know what to do next than if you have an idea what you want to do but haven’t focused on anything seriously enough to develop many skills. And while you’re working on your degree, you can still pursue things that you think might interest you. If in doubt, pick up a few extra skills outside of philosophy and try to meet people who are doing other interesting things. Eventually you’ll find something that’s right for you.