I attended Maynooth University as a mature student whose life-long hobby had been reading Roman (and a little Greek) history. While I was pleased to discover my previous reading had indeed given me a good grasp of the historical facts, I was surprised to discover how little I had really understood of what I read. The Classics department taught me how to read ancient sources – how to understand that my favourite ancient writers were not Ancient Wise Men, but just people with their own prejudices and blind spots, who needed to be interpreted just like any modern spin doctor. I was also surprised to see how much the Classics department improved my intellectual skills. Even though I had been working for many years as a professional business writer, the Classics department taught me how to structure in more detail and my writing as a result has noticeably improved (much to the joy of my editors).
In short, while I got the education in the classics I expected, I got an education in scholarship beyond my expectations. Furthermore, I found the staff in the department to be accessible, friendly and genuinely interested in helping their students to do well – something not always present in every university department. As a direct result of my time in the Classics department I find myself better able to tackle all aspects of research and writing, no matter what the topic, business or academic. In the broader context, I have learned one cannot really understand modern culture without a knowledge of the classical works upon which it is based – their influence is everywhere.
I am now undertaking a PhD in the Philosophy of Online Identity, something which I could never have dreamed of without the support of the Classics department.