Today, please welcome Professor Marc Lange, chair of the Philosophy Department, who is here to tell us more about studying philosophy at Carolina:
Of the more than 150 philosophy majors at UNC, only a small handful had any acquaintance at all with philosophy before arriving in Chapel Hill. But having taken a philosophy class – perhaps on philosophy and sport, or philosophy of science, or morality and law – many students decide to take additional courses having the same level of excitement, intellectual vitality, and logical rigor that they enjoyed in their first philosophy course. Before they know it, they become philosophy majors (or minors). Then they have something in common with Steve Martin, Phil Jackson (the basketball coach), Susan Sarandon, Stephen Breyer (the Supreme Court justice), Ethan Coen, Aung San Suu Kyi (the Burmese dissident leader), George Soros (the billionaire), Alex Trebek (from TV’s Jeopardy), Bruce Lee, and Pearl Buck.
Did you know that in the past decade, the number of philosophy majors at four-year U.S. colleges and universities has grown 46 percent – a higher rate than history or psychology? Perhaps students tend to major in philosophy in uncertain times like ours. Did you know that philosophy majors are admitted to medical school at a higher rate than almost any other major (far outpacing biology majors, for instance)? That in every recent year, philosophy majors had higher average LSAT scores than political science majors? Of course, it doesn’t follow from any of these facts that you will improve your LSAT scores or your chances of admission to medical school by becoming a philosophy major. (You probably already had this thought. It involves drawing just the kind of important distinction that philosophers pounce upon!) Of course, the main reason that philosophy majors would give for majoring in philosophy is simply that they love it.
But there are other relevant considerations. UNC’s philosophy department has won more teaching awards for its size than any other UNC department. We have long been ranked as one of the top ten U.S. philosophy departments. We have lots of small classes and faculty who love to teach them. We also have an active undergraduate philosophy club, a popular minor in “PPE” (philosophy, politics, and economics), a variety of exciting courses (from “The Philosophy of Comedy” to “Reason, Religion, and Reality in the Copernican Revolution”), and the Parr Center for Ethics (which sponsors our award-winning interscholastic Ethics Bowl team) – as well as our “Take a Philosopher to Lunch” program.
I hope to see you around Caldwell Hall.
Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Professor
Philosophy Department Chair
Today’s Q&A is with Stephanie Cassell, a first-year from Mint Hill, NC who is a student in the Assured Admission program in the School of Education. Last year was our first year offering assured admission to the education program, so Stephanie is a part of the inaugural class. Assured Education students are able to start their education coursework early with a special first-year seminar and other classes. It’s just one of the nine special opportunities that we offer each year to enrolling first-year students.
What do you hope to do with your degree in education? What experiences have led you to this field?
With my degree in mathematics education, I plan to be a high school math teacher in North Carolina. Currently I am open to teaching any type of high school math once I become a teacher. Quite a few experiences led me to this field. I knew that I wanted to teach when I taught classes at my church, and I knew that I wanted to teach math because it was my favorite subject. I was also a tutor for a few years. I tutored students who were in the 3rd grade all the way up to 11th grade students. I loved tutoring. Many parents cosigned on my dream to be a teacher when they would tell me how their child’s success in math was partially my responsibility. I also took two years of Teacher Cadet. Teacher Cadet introduced me to the different forms of teaching and the many different types of teachers.
What are some of the benefits of being in the Assured Education program?
One of the benefits of being in the Assured Education Program is that I am able to take education courses during my freshman year. By being able to take education classes during my freshman year, I have more time to decide if education is truly the field for me. By taking education courses early, I am also able to network with those who have worked in the education field and I can possibly meet a future mentor.
Any study abroad, internship, extracurricular, or other interesting experiences you’ve had or plan to pursue?
In the near future, I plan to tutor students in nearby high schools in the subject of math. Also, here at Carolina, students are able to take some math courses abroad. It would be very interesting to take a class in my favorite subject while being in a country that I have never visited before.
What else would you tell prospective students who are considering Carolina?
I would tell future students that there is something for everyone here at Carolina. No matter what a student’s interests may be, there is a club or a group for it. If there is no group already formed, there is a great chance that there are a group of people who have the same interests as you. I would also tell prospective students that there are so many resources on campus to help students succeed. For example, there are resources ranging from a writing center to multiple tutoring services. Finally, there are many ways for students to improve themselves outside of the classroom. There are sessions that focus on improving study skills as well as improving reading speed. By taking one of the study skill sessions, I have gained multiple tips on how to take better notes and how to prepare for exams. Not only can students improve their minds but their bodies as well. There are multiple places to work out that offer a variety of group fitness classes. Some personal favorites of mine are Zumba and belly dancing. Here at Carolina, you can do it all!
What are the benefits for Honors students?
They get first crack at enrolling in Honors courses–about 120 courses across the spectrum of majors. The Johnston Center brings scholars, speakers, and performers to campus every year. Most Honors students develop the kind of relationships with professors that allow them to mold their own academic experience, whether by participating in research, writing a thesis, or even developing new courses.
How do I get admitted into the program?
As we read applications, we nominate those students who we believe have extraordinary promise. These applications are then sent to a panel of faculty, who make the final decisions about admission into the Honors Program.
What kind of students are you looking for?
Smart ones. Not necessarily the ones with the best standardized test scores–a high SAT alone will not get you into the program. We are looking for students who are taking control of their own education. They are constantly looking for ways to stretch the boundaries. Taking the toughest classes at their high school, and then going outside the school for more opportunities to learn. Becoming leaders within their schools or communities, and making contributions that will continue to enrich the community even after they have left. One faculty member described it to me as the “active learners”–students who are going to not just passively scrape through four years at Carolina, but those who will take charge of their experience here, and leave this campus changed because of their presence.
Do I have to be invited into the program as a first-year in order to participate?
No! That’s the best thing about the Honors Program at Carolina. It’s not an elitist club, but a thriving program whose aim is to enrich the experience of all students. If we can’t invite you to join as a first-year, you can apply to join as soon as your second semester on campus. Anyone can take Honors courses as space allows. Anyone can write an honors thesis and graduate with honors. It’s inclusive, not exclusive. That’s just how we roll here, as you’ll find out as you get to know our campus. The opportunities are here for the taking. We’re looking for the people who are going to step up, take those opportunities, and do things with them that we can’t even begin to imagine.
If you haven’t been reading the Tar Heel Blog, you might want to start. It’s a great way to get the current student perspective on everything Carolina – including puppies. Wait, who am I kidding?! Especially puppies!
Check out this recent Tar Heel Blog post by Ashley S.
So, to say I look happy in this picture would be considered an understatement, no? You see, this past couple of weeks have been crazy hectic and my idea of coping was watching Scrubs on Netflix until I understood medical lingo. Too bad I’m in Journalism. But I’m the kind of person that when I feel stressed, I need something that will make me happy and The Walking Dead only comes on once a week. But a fellow Tar Heel was carrying around Matilda (the adorable puppy in my arms) and allowed me to hold her. Believe me when I say I never wanted to let go. (I’m pretty sure kidnapping a puppy is frowned upon in society.) But you wanna know something even better than looking at a picture of me holding a puppy…
BAM! Our very own Ramses was out, sporting his spiffy suit, and can be seen holding little Matilda.
I wanted to share this experience with you because life at Carolina is made up of moments. I’m not trying to get philosophical on you (I haven’t taken that for my General Education requirements, you see) but it is true. But these little moments are what you will reflect back on after you’ve graduated from UNC and you’ve moved on to make your place in the world. I’ll never forget the puppy or the ram that put that smile on my face in the middle of midterms and meetings and work and cravings for Chipotle.
Sometimes, we get caught up in the big picture. Lately, I’ve been trying to balance obligations such as work, meetings, classes, deciding on housing, and other nonsense things that can really make you want to pull your hair out when you tend to over-analyze things like I do. You have to learn to take a step back, and no one can really tell you how to do that. For me, I used to read. I don’t really have time to do that, so I had to find a work around. But to be with friends out on Polk Place, chilling with our school’s mascot and a puppy on a b-e-a-utiful, warm, still February Wednesday, gave me the boost I needed to turn the week around. Everything just looks brighter when you do something that makes you smile.
And it has been busy for me. For those of you reading this that already know you’re coming to Carolina, I’m already excited to meet you at orientation this summer. In November (or was it December?) I found out I was going to be an Orientation Leader, working with first-year and transfer students. I was floored, honored, nervous, and excited. Meeting you, whoever you are reading this, is all I’ve been thinking about since I applied in October (or was it September…?) However my sense of time is skewered, one thing I do know is that everything I do now is turning me into the person who will help you transition to UNC. No pressure or anything.
It’s strange. I’m a rising junior, already reflecting back on what it felt like to be in your shoes. It probably doesn’t help that Imagine Dragons’ It’s Time is blasting through my headphones. Talk about a song that makes you feel nostalgic for the good ole days. I’m looking forward to study abroad, finding internships, and still craving Chipotle. Your time will fly while you’re here, that I can promise you. I didn’t believe it when I started here and yet, here I am telling you that that’s not the case at all.
Like I said: little moments. I have so many, I couldn’t possibly fit them all here. But those little moments are the ones I want to share with you (starting with Matilda because I just can’t resist that face), and I hope I get to do that with you this summer.
I hope you come to Carolina. I really do. Despite those moments where it feels overwhelming, I love being a Tar Heel because my campus knows how to brighten my day, whether it’s intentional or not. I hope you have tons of questions about UNC, because I’m prepared to answer them all. So find me on Facebook or Twitter or shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Hope to see you this summer!
The Daily Tar Heel has put together a list of 100 things that every student should do in their four years at Carolina. The list ranges from the scholarly (3. Explore Wilson Library’s Rare Book Collection) to the exuberant (41. Dance in a library flash mob). It’s a great compilation of UNC culture and traditions, and a fun read.