7 Signs You're An English Major

When you first enter college, you are pressured to make one huge decision that gets asked more than which dorm you’re in or who you got your fake ID from: what’s your major?

These days, it’s no secret that English majors are the butt of every joke. Friends, parents and society in general thinks that we are paying $20,000 a year to either be an English teacher or to live in a cardboard box on the street reading Shakespeare to stray cats. But we know that’s not true!

We know that English majors have a lower rate of unemployment than political science and economics majors. We know that most careers simply require a diploma, whether it’s Aerospace Engineering or Music Therapy.

And damn it, being an English major is great.

While everyone else is crying into their O-chem homework, we are reading the classics. While physics students are filling their exam blue books with page-long equations, we are filling ours with close readings discussing how Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was inspired by the ridiculousness of math (not drugs).

We have our ups and we have our downs; we have our pros and we have our cons. Here are a few signs you’ve fallen into the rabbit hole that is being an English major:

1. People assume you’re either going to be a teacher or broke.

Most people don’t realize how useful and versatile an English degree actually is. English is the dominant language in America (at least for now) and communication is a key element in literally every business that exists. When people need someone to write text books, articles, headlines or simply communicate one point from company A to company B, they’re going to hire you! This assumption is also especially frustrating because if we wanted to be teachers, we would be education majors.

2. Your parents begged you to choose something more “practical.”

Okay, so when I told my dad I wanted to be a dance major, it was fair of him to be less than willing, especially considering I’m not a prima ballerina. But when I announced English was my next course of action, I got the same response! Declaring an English major is apparently the same as declaring you want to be a jobless hoarder lady with at least 16 cats. It took me failing out of another major for my parents to realize that maybe English was the right track for me.

3. Your friends hate you during finals week.

While all your pre-pharmacy friends are burning through hundreds of flash cards, you’re re-reading your favorite novel or studying the rhyme pattern of your favorite poem. Most of your finals are essays that you completed weeks ago, so now you’re prepping for the one exam you have before heading home early for Christmas.

4. You know some horribly pretentious people.

Being an English major is wonderful, but some people like to take it too far. These are the people in your classes who quote Thoreau’s Walden to describe where you’re eating lunch as if it is a lush green pasture, when in reality you’re sitting on a bench surrounded by concrete. They will argue that Benjamin Franklin was a more revolutionary figure in the Enlightenment movement than Ralph Waldo Emerson (and you will know in your heart that they are wrong).

5. You actually love learning.

Or at least, you love going to class. Instead of dragging yourself out of bed to a lecture hall where you plan to sit on your phone for an hour, you happily arrive early so you can discuss with the class the crazy plot twist that happened in the novel you’re reading. When you actually enjoy your classes, you do well, which makes it at least feel a tiny bit worth it to be spending the money you are to be there.

6. You meet people of all ages, grades and majors.

Because English classes are so versatile, they are offered to a wide range of students. There may be freshmen taking your American Literature class as a history elective. There may be a 40-year-old non-traditional student taking your Poetry Writing class simply to better their poetry skills. There may be more business majors in your Introduction to Fiction class than English majors because they needed an easy composition credit. You won’t be stuck in a sea of people just like you, which you would be if you chose to pursue nursing.

7. After all of your break downs, you choose to stay an English major.

There will be breakdowns. You will question if it’s worth it to get the “I guess you don’t plan on making any money” comments and the “Oh, so you’re going to be a teacher?” questions. You will panic thinking that you are wasting your parents’ money to read silly books and ask seemingly pointless questions. But when you burn through homework without sighing and you spend hours in your professor’s office simply to discuss feminist theory, you will realize: this is exactly what you are meant to be.