English and Communication Majors Need to be Taken Seriously: A Hot Take

 

As many people know, I am a proud English creative writing and communication double major. Yet, I often get that look. You know, the look from STEM majors who are like ‘they have it easy’ and ‘I do so much more work than them.’ Yes, I’m biased, but no one understands just how much work these majors actually do. I’m tired of some of my STEM friends thinking that I’m not doing nearly as much work as they are.

 

I’m not arguing that the STEM majors aren’t challenging. I know they are. I have friends who are biology and geology majors. I’m just saying that other majors at Geneseo shouldn’t be underestimated. I’m double majoring in what are supposedly the two “easiest majors,” and I’m tired of people believe I’m just skating by.

 

Let’s look at the communication major first. All communication majors are required to take a public speaking class, which is one of the most nerve-wracking classes anyone could ever take. According to assistant professor of rhetoric and communication, Lee Pierce, most people would switch out of the major before taking a public speaking class. Now, she was my professor, and I’m also a teaching assistant for her public speaking class, so here’s more personal bias, but she makes a valid point.

 

Seventy-five percent of the United States population has a fear of public speaking. That’s quite a large number. All communication majors need to do this no matter what. While STEM majors might have to present research or something, they’re often not required to speak in public. Most of the time a lot of people can’t understand the scientific terms anyway. The communication major is all about making sure you can communicate oral and written ideas effectively. 

 

Communication is also an extensive amount of reading and writing. That’s almost the whole major. I have done a lot of projects, tests, essays and other assignments. It’s still a lot of work. There are also three different tracks to choose from, so there are more specialized tasks that need to be done. For example, on the journalism and media track you will have to learn Associated Press (not APA—they’re different) and broadcast style. You’re learning to write in several different styles, and it can get confusing on top of all the other things that still need to be done.

 

If you think the amount of reading in the communication major is a lot, English is much worse. I’ve had to read entire books for one class period in less than two days. Yes, English majors choose to do this, but it’s still hard finishing entire pieces of literature in such a short time frame. It gets even more challenging as English majors begin to take 300 and 400 level literature courses because the difficulty level of papers and projects starts to rise.

 

In addition, all classes in the English major are four credits. This means that the classes are longer in length. I often have classes that are an hour and 40 minutes twice a week. It’s hard to sit still for that long even if you love the topic. Four credits also means that the class is worth more toward your GPA, so you need to put in more work to balance everything out.

 

Also, English majors aren’t just reading “old, white men” as most people believe. The English major requires us to take classes in early, modern and recent literature. The professors also try to teach a variety of literature from around the world so we’re reading about all different kinds of cultures and groups of people. My introductory English 203 course was “Black British Writers.” That’s nowhere near old, white men.

 

Creative writing might be the most difficult major of them all. You have to take some literature courses and four advanced writing workshops. They’re also four credits, so it’s a lot of time spent reading, writing and workshopping pieces. Most pieces have to be at least seven pages long, but it depends on the genre and professor.

 

Unless you’ve sat silently through at least a half an hour of an advanced writer’s workshop as your peers questioned every choice you made in your piece, you will never understand what it is like to be a creative writing major. Writers pour emotion into their work, and then having it workshopped is draining. While workshops are very helpful—and I appreciate them so much because they help me see where the holes are in my writing—I still leave the room feeling emotionally and physically exhausted.

 

STEM majors aren’t the only majors who work their butts off. I hope that everyone learns that any major is challenging in their own ways. Everyone needs to get rid of their own biases that some majors are better and work harder than others. 

 

All majors should be treated equally, and everyone needs to start recognizing this.