Be an Academic

Your eyes ain’t lyin’—Writing Wednesday is back.

It’s been well over a year since my last installment and man, have I missed being bossy about words.

It’s not that I haven’t had anything to write about. I think about this stuff all the time. At the grocery store, sitting in church, listening to music (some lyrics fail at every aspect of grammar)—even at a nice dinner with my extended family!

Therein lies the inspiration for tonight’s topic.

Last week, my uncle was inducted into a local school district’s hall of fame. He’s a pretty amazing teacher and an even better baseball coach.

The induction ceremony was part of the district’s end-of-year banquet. Before they got to the honorees, they gave graduating seniors a sweet little sendoff.

Well, it was sweet until they began announcing college plans. And holy smokes, are a lot of kids going on to major in pre-med!

But here’s the thing…


If I had a dollar for every time a student told me their “major” was pre-med, I could probably put myself through medical school.

STOP ALLOWING THIS TO HAPPEN. The next time you ask a kid what they’re studying and they respond with “pre-med,” respond with excitement but also rephrase the question so they know that is not an answer.

“Awesome! So what’s your major?”
“Oh cool! But which degree?”
“Ah, that could mean so many subjects! Bachelor of Science? In what?”

Help me put an end to this madness.

And while we’re on the subject, let’s talk capitalization of those actual subjects!

Majors should not be capitalized unless they’re derived from a proper noun.

  • biology
  • chemistry
  • communications
  • history of Christianity
  • English
  • Spanish

The trick there is when you get specific with bachelor.

If you’re citing the full-blown Bachelor of Science, that’s all capitalized—same with Master of Arts or Bachelor of Journalism, etc.

The less formal “bachelor’s/master’s degree” calls for lowercase. And don’t forget those apostrophes! Unless you’re talking about an associate degree or doctorate (doctoral). Those stay just the way they are.

All pretty straightforward, yeah?

So what about abbreviations? Avoid them unless you’re listing a ton of very smart people. Stick to spelling things out for everyone’s sake—you won’t have to agonize over the correct truncation and the reader won’t stress deciphering.

  • Andrew Guiney, with his master’s in business administration…

If you do abbreviate, always put it at the end of a person’s full name, offset by a comma.

  • Allison A. Pane, B.J.

And for that extra smart someone with a PhD, don’t put Dr. at the beginning. That’s just redundant (not to mention braggadocious).

If you were wondering, I hope this helps. If you weren’t, I wish you would. Regardless of your camp, let’s just hope it makes sense sense.


Now update your LinkedIn to Blink!

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