Are you considering a major in Anthropology? The following are some frequently asked questions about choosing anthropology as your major, with answers from students and alumni saying why anthropology was the right choice for them.
- Why do students decide to study anthropology?
- What leads people to anthropology?
- What can anthropology provide?
- How do majors use their knowledge and training?
- How are acquired skills used?
- Where can anthropology take you?
Current majors and recent University of Rochester graduates reflected on their reasons for studying anthropology. Several discovered that anthropology complemented another concentration of study. Many times, students tried a different major, no longer found it stimulating, and chose to pursue something new and more intriguing. A general curiosity leads many students to anthropology. Majors and graduates often recall the class or professor that inspired them to learn more about anthropology. Most commonly, anthropology majors took one course, usually 101 ? Cultural Anthropology, where they learned what the field is all about, how anthropologists conduct field work, and what anthropologists write. Students read various ethnographies and actually enjoy readings for courses. Anthropology provides students with exciting material resulting in personal reflection that is then brought to a group forum and discussed, through an exchange of individual ideas.
Anthropology, when combined with other things such as studying other languages, cultures, or religions, really gives you a good sense of what matters in the world. What is significant about human interaction, why we do what we do. That's what matters to me. -Abby '01
The more Classes I took, the more I became interested in it. And so I was able to fit it in with Health and Society, and they really go together so well. -Krista '00
My first major was in psychology and it is based on the individual. I felt that it was important to get a broader view of humanity as well. Majoring in anthropology was one of the best decisions I have ever made. -Megan '97, Multi-Cultural Education
I had never really known about anthropology in high school, so I was pretty much introduced to it. I'm sure every other college student doesn't really know until they get to college what anthropology really is. -Leigh '00
I majored in anthropology because I wanted a broad education. Anthropology covers history, politics, gender studies, geography. -Graciela '96, Program Coordinator
Motivation to study anthropology is driven by a desire to understand people and their cultures. Students fear studying anthropology because they are afraid of how their parents will respond or they think they will be unable to find a job. But, a degree in anthropology can open countless doors to many careers. Majors can continue their studies and pursue advanced degrees, conduct research, write ethnographies, and become professors. Majors can also apply anthropology to numerous fields. observation and analytical skills prove to be useful in almost any situation. The ethnographic method intrigues students. If anthropology interests you, negative views and assumptions should not discourage you. A liberal arts education of any kind does not necessarily have to relate in any way to your future career; it is simply a way of teaching you to think critically and gain knowledge of an area of study in depth.
I always had a strong desire to learn about cultures other than my own and I wanted to gain an understanding of the world that might help me teach others. -Emily '97 Museum Education
Anthropology, I know, is not a field that's going to get me any money, but that's not really what I'm after anyways. It's definitely going to give me interpersonal skills that I wouldn't be able to get otherwise. -Nate '00
Attention to detail, record-keeping, observation, interviewing, transcribing, critical analysis, and writing skills are all offered in anthropology. Majors also find that on a personal level, it makes you less ethnocentric, deconstructs your cultural assumptions, opens your mind, and provides social ease in new and different situations.
You understand yourself better. You understand others better. You open yourself. You interact with others more. It brings you closer to other people. -Aimee '0l
Anthropology made me more aware and sensitive to people and art. It's an "ethical" major and I'm proud of that! -Katherine '64, Art Therapist
Anthropology has provided a certain insight that I believe is important to being an understanding physician. -Louis '83, Cardiac Surgeon
Anthropology helped me decide to pursue a law degree and concentrate on family law. -Kristen '95, Law School
It teaches you to think a certain way, to look at the whole picture. That can help you in life and in any kind of organization to understand how it's designed and how people interact. -Seth '99
When I graduate, I have a lot behind me in terms of real, time consuming research that you really get a lot out of in the end. -Leigh '00It gave me the tools toproblern solve using an integrated, comprehensive approach not found in any other discipline. -Emily '96, Enterprise Development
Students conduct independent research, get internships, are research assistants, receive grants and fellowships, study abroad, and complete ethnographic projects. The sky is the limit to where anthropology can take you.
I'm planning to complement it with Economics and focus on how economics affects people's cultures. -Aimee '01
My focus is on women and HIV. -Krista '00
In Honduras, I did independent study on the role of women in grassroots organizations. - Amanda '98
When you're interviewing and taking notes, you have to be places that you wouldn't normally be. -Leigh '00
Alumni are a great source of information. Their careers can show, instead of tell, how anthropological skills are used on the job.
My job performance has benefitted from having studied anthropology. The analytical and comparative thinking skills from pursuing the major have been a tremendous asset. -Matt '96, Social Worker
Being an astute participant observer is part of what makes an effective diplomat. -Abby '94, Program Specialist
I use anthropology by trying to build consensus among disparate sectors of the community regarding development issues. -Carolyn '89, Urban Planner
I deal with ethnically diverse patients. My background in anthropology prepared me for a unique understanding of these differences. -Robert '83, Pediatrician
I find the skills I learned in anthropology to be very useful on my job, when you look at individual institutions and large companies as societies within themselves, complete with cultural norms. -Peter'75, Social Service Consultant
Much of my fiction and poetry has been inspired by experiences I've had, sights I've seen, and stories I've heard during fieldwork. -Margaret '85, Writer
After graduating from the U of R, not all majors become anthropologists. However, almost 311 agree that study of anthropology prepared them for their careers. They list observation, interpretation, and interpersonal skills among the most useful tools. Take a look at the variety of careers of alumni: Cardiac Surgeon, Court Stenographer, Custom Woodworker, Museum Assistant Curator, Child Care Counselor, Sales and Marketing Director, Medical Geneticist, Insurance Managing Director, International Supervisor, Social Service Consultant, Watercolor Artist, Urban Planner, Environmental Consultant, Occupational Health Consultant, International Communication Program Specialist, Independent Management Consultant, Journalist, Archaeologist, Pediatrician, Park Ranger, Art Therapist, Editor, Systems Analyst, Legal Advisor, Educator, Dentist, Freelance Writer, Translator, Livestock BuyerRecent graduates are using anthropology in: Non-Governmental Organizations, Community Service Networking, Museum, Education, International Development, Non-Profit Organizations, Graphic Design, Americorps, Service Learning, Graduate Studies, Web DesignContinued study of anthropology involves conducting field work. Past majors have done ethnographic research throughout the world:
New Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Poland, Japan, Malawi, Namibia, Western New York, Indonesia, Germany, Bosnia-Herzegovina, United Kingdom, Trinidad