Majoring in English has been one of the best things I could have done in my college career. Nothing else that I could have picked would have allowed me to enjoy college as much. Many people will probably assume this is because English majors don’t have a lot of work to do, but honestly, there aren’t many times when I am not doing something for one of my classes. Whether that work is reading a whole novel over the weekend for one class or trying to write three different papers at one time for every class. It is tedious and time-consuming work, but if anyone asks me, I would tell them it was worth it. I have no regrets about it. Not only has majoring in English given me experience for my desired career, but it has also allowed me to develop a deeper understanding of the world and become a more sympathetic person.
I was worried about majoring in English, although it’s what I wanted to do. When I initially enrolled in college I was actually started as a Communication Major. Although I understood that I can get most of the same jobs with both of these majors, being an English Major seemed to be too taboo. I chose Communication and for the first quarter, it was pretty alright. During that second quarter, though, I took a News Writing Course and an English course, and I quickly abandoned News Writing and changed my major to English with a concentration in Literature. I have always loved reading, and I learned that although both of these majors could get me in similar careers, I wanted to at least enjoy what I was doing to get there. I found out that I very much did not enjoy finding real-life stories to write about and instead, I wanted to read made-up stories and give my opinion on those (aka let the other people do the hardest part). I have, since that point, taken as many English classes and have enjoyed almost every part of it.
English majors get a lot of push-back about being English majors, especially at my school full of STEM majors! If I had a dollar for every time someone incredulously asked me, “what are you going to do with an English Degree?” or say, “Oh! So you’re going to be an English teacher!” I would be able to pay off all of my student loans. It’s not that I don’t understand these questions, because I have had the same questions for myself, but they just get annoying after 3+ years. It also is aggravating because there are so many options for careers for English majors to have after we graduate, but people just assume we all want to be English teachers. I have met more people who tend to go to law school following their B.A. in English or plan to be copywriters/editors than people who want to be teachers. People fail to recognize that there are so many options, though, and they think, by default, that all English majors are going to be literate waiters or high school English teachers stuck in a constant loop of Shakspeare and The Scarlet Letter. I spent a long time embarrassed to say my major amidst a swarm of Engineers. Now, I am a month from graduation, but I am so proud and excited that this is how I spent the last 3 years of my collegiate life.
The atmosphere in a good English classroom is one that cannot be beaten. When you have a teacher who gives plenty of grades, picks great books, and engages the students (like most of my teachers), then you are going to have an awesome time! These classes have made up a majority of my college years and although I haven’t taken any engineering classes, I want to say that I don’t think they ever have as pleasant classroom experiences. When you get a good teacher, a good group of students, and an interesting book then class and school-work actually become enjoyable. One of the only downsides is that if there are tests, studying is extra difficult. While it is awesome to have class discussions, it is hard to participate and take notes that will be relevant to any test. However, I haven’t taken many actual tests for my English classes unless they are small quizzes about the readings or something that is basic knowledge. The teachers aren’t expecting you to know basic answers to questions more than they want you to be able to analyze, interpret, and respond to ideas in books, and as long as you can provide quotes and sources to support your ideas, you can’t be wrong!
I think one of my favorite things about studying Literature is that there are no definite answers to any questions we ask about the books. I know a lot of people may think this is the worst thing possible, but I love it. I love how I can make a comment in class and the teacher will most likely say, “sure” in response because as long as I can find evidence, I can be right. I know that it is fun to do experiments, build robots, and add numbers and letters, but you can’t criticize and hate on scientists and mathematicians for the facts they provide. In English classes, though, you can argue that Shakespeare was a vampire solely based on his writings, and as long as you support your claims. . . Shakespeare was a vampire. I think that is pretty cool if I do say so, myself!
There are so many positive things that come along with studying English, but if I were to list them all, I would be writing my own novel. I don’t want it to seem as if anything other than English is lame, but I want people to recognize that English majors do have a plan. We, also, had fun while making it. We will be able to find jobs when we graduate, our skill will be very valuable to many different companies, we will be able to help support a family with our paychecks, and we will get to enjoy what we do. Or maybe we will just be literate waiters. Nevertheless, we should encourage people to study and pursue what makes them happy and not what will maybe make them the most money in the future.
Favorite books I’ve read for class:
Paradise Lost by John Milton
“The Bluest Eye” and “Beloved” by Toni Morrison
“Oryx and Crake” by Margaret Atwood
“Iola Leroy” by Frances Harper