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8 Typical Responses You Get When You Tell Someone You’re An English Major

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There is such a stigma about pursuing a career in the arts, especially with the rise in more “practical” majors like business or engineering. But for people like me who dreaded going to calculus every day in high school, studying anything but English always felt wrong. While I’ve fortunately been blessed with parents that support my decision to study English, others are not as accepting of this. From family members making jabs at my future plans, to society’s general stigma, here are the most common responses to telling someone that you’re an English major.

1. “Oh, so you want to be a teacher!”

While this response can seem friendly and harmless, it gets annoying to explain that you don’t want to be a teacher and to constantly fend off the “Why nots” and “You’d make a great teacher.” Sorry I’d rather not spend the rest of my life in a school, surrounded by kids. High school was not fun and I’d rather not go back. Ever.

2. “What kind of job can you get with that?”

Tons, tons, tons! An English degree teaches you how to analyze and look further into texts, whether they’re works of literature or a sheet of stats. It also teaches strong writing skills, which can be helpful when writing cover letters, acquisitions, speeches and so much more. No one has ever been criticized for being too good of a writer.

3. “You’re wasting your money.”

Yeah, well, that pair of man UGGs you bought last winter was a waste of money, too, Uncle Bob.

4. “Your parents are really going to let you study that?”

Yes, my parents really are going to let me study that. They understand the value of my happiness and know that I would be even less successful as a business or STEM major because I would absolutely HATE my job. They’d rather see me happy and thriving in a career I love even if I will struggle financially at first, instead of making 80k right out of college.

5. “Why not just be a communications major? You’ll make more money that way.”

Insert literally any other major. I’ve heard it all before. I’m not a communication major because I don’t want to be. Plain and simple.

6. “Have fun paying off your student loans.”

Thank you! Any school I go to and any degree I get will result in a mountain of student loans. If I’m getting paid to do what I love to do (and probably would do for free) then it’ll make paying them off a lot easier on me.

7. “So you’re going to be a starving artist.”

This one is even more loaded, as it makes the assumption that I’ll be so unsuccessful in my career and too untalented to get paid. Also, just because I’m an English major doesn’t mean I think I’m the next F. Scott Fitzgerald. I can still have a practical view on my writing abilities and continue to write for fun while maintaining a job in publishing in the meantime.

8. “You’re going to regret it.”

Being an English major is something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve always adored language and literature. Having this opportunity to expand my studies and develop my skills is something I will NEVER regret. I know that physics will never make me feel giddy and excited like copy-editing a manuscript does. I understand the practicality, but I also know that passion is not something that comes around more than once in a lifetime, if that. I’m proud to say that I’m an English major, and that my classes consist of talking about books and writing stories. I know that the skills I’m learning will take me far in life because it is what I love to do, despite what critics say.

A freshman Writing, Literature and Publishing major who spends her spare time drinking one too many cups of hot chocloate and advocating for the use of the oxford comma in her major.
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