Here is what you should do:
I. Make absolutely sure graduate study in Classics is for you
An academic career in Classics can bring wonderful rewards, but you should not undertake it unless you are very motivated and you feel that graduate study in Classics is the only way you can fulfill your personal and academic goals. Be sure that you consider the following:
1. It is hard to get into graduate school in Classics.
2. PhD programs in Classics are difficult and often take six or more years.
3. The job market for university professors of Classics is exceedingly tight. There is a good possibility that you will never obtain a permanent position teaching Classics at a college or university, even if you successfully complete a PhD in Classics in a first-rate program.
4. If you would like a career in Classics but would rather not face the uncertainties of the academic job market, remember that there is still demand for teachers of Latin at the secondary level in various parts of the country.
5. Remember that your undergraduate Classics degree brings you skills that will be valuable in countless professions besides academia: graduate school is only one of many, many options.
II. Study lots of language
A. A good knowledge of both Latin and Ancient Greek is essential. Start the languages as early as you can, take as many courses in them as you can, and give yourself to the languages heart and soul. If you are starting your languages late, accelerated summer programs are probably a good idea. Two things to remember:
1. The language requirement for the Wash.U. Classics major is not adequate preparation for graduate school in Classics: you need to reach the advanced level of both Greek and Latin.
2. Languages are required not only for those planning to specialize in language and literature. All respectable PhD programs in ancient history, and most programs in Classical archaeology as well, require both Greek and Latin.
B. You will need a reading knowledge of German, French, and Italian in order to succeed in a Classics PhD program. Starting at least one of these languages now will boost your chances of admission to graduate school and save you much trouble when you get there.
III. Learn to research and practice your writing
All graduate programs look for applicants with a demonstrated aptitude for research in Classics. Almost all of them require a personal statement and a writing sample as part of the application, and writing will be an essential part of your graduate work. Hone your writing skills as much as you can. Take as many courses with significant writing requirements as you can, especially those that require research and writing in Classics. Read lots of modern scholarship in Classics and work hard at the research projects assigned in your 400-level courses. If you can, write an honors thesis and start it early so that you can use part of it as your writing sample.
IV. Get to know your professors in Classics
Letters of recommendation will carry much weight: make sure you have several faculty members in Classics who can recommend you enthusiastically. Talk to as many as possible about graduate study and the profession. If you are interested in specializing in ancient history or archaeology, be sure to talk with faculty in those areas.
V. Study for the GRE
A high score in the verbal and writing sections of the GRE will increase your chances of acceptance, and many schools count the total score (including math) when they make decisions regarding financial aid.
Because of the competitive job market, you will want to be sure you get your degree from a program with a good reputation. Just as important, however, is that the program suits your interests and needs. Consult with several members of the Classics faculty for advice on what programs would be best for you. You may also find the following web sites useful:
1. The Classical Society of the Middle West and South’s Website on Classics Graduate Programs (http://camws.org/directories/study_classics_surveys.php)
As you compare schools, be sure to consider such factors as the time it takes students to finish their degrees, the program's record of placing its graduate students, the types of financial aid available, and the courses offered, as well as the program's overall reputation.
VII. Other options
A. A Master’s Degree at Washington University. Students graduating with a BA in Classics from Washington University can complete an MA (=AM) in Classics at Washington University in 1 year (plus 1 summer, unless they already can demonstrate reading knowledge in German, French, or Italian), provided they have taken appropriate courses during their undergraduate career. Talk to your advisor early about whether this might be a good option.
B. A Terminal Master's Degree elsewhere: Several other universities offer good graduate programs in Classics terminating in a Master's Degree. This might be a good way to start if you feel you are not ready to jump into a PhD program yet.
C. Post-baccalaureate programs. Several universities, including the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Iowa, the University of North Carolina, UCLA, William and Mary, and Georgetown, offer post-baccalaureate programs in Classics, where you can study Latin and Greek intensively as you prepare to apply for a PhD program.