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As an English major, I can honestly say that I’ve experienced more than my fair share of confused queries from people who genuinely think that becoming an English teacher is the only viable option that results from an English degree. Well, it’s totally untrue despite popular belief. There are plenty of career opportunities out there besides teaching, so if you’re concerned about winding up jobless, don’t be. I shared those same fears and worries before I actually went into the major. I started off in college as a business major because I didn’t know what I wanted to do at all. After struggling in all the prerequisite classes, I decided that business involved way too much math, so I made the switch to English because I’ve always liked to read and write, and English was my favorite subject in high school. I think what confuses and/or scares a lot of people about majoring in English and other humanities degrees is that there isn’t really an exact job title that applies directly to them. For example, if you’re studying accounting then you’re going to be an accountant. English isn’t so clear cut and straightforward– but that’s what makes it so appealing. I love being an English major and here’s why:


Communication skills 

Being an English major helps you develop strong writing and research skills through writing essays, reading and analyzing novels, and searching for reliable evidence to support claims. These skills can be transferred over to the “real world.” Employers are always looking for people who are able to properly communicate. Too often, misspelled words or grammatical errors in an email puts one at risk of appearing unprofessional. As a detailed-oriented English major, this would be much less likely to happen to you.


Diverse job opportunities 


An English degree is quite flexible with the types of jobs you can get. Jobs include but are not limited to: teaching (the obvious one), being an author, editing, publishing, grant writing, technical writing, copywriting, freelancing, translating, and you can go into fields such as journalism, public relations, marketing, social media, and politics.


Less memorization


The material in English courses requires a lot less memorization compared to the sciences. There aren’t really any terms, definitions, or formulas you need to know for exams just to forget them the next week. 


No final exams


As an English major, I don’t usually have final exams. Instead, I have final essays and I wouldn’t have it any other way. For one thing, exams are super stressful because you have a very limited amount of time to complete them. With essays, there is less pressure because there’s no immediate deadline. This makes it so you have plenty of hours to perfect your paper (but not if you procrastinate, which I always do, sadly). Also, while your friends are slaving away at their textbooks, you could potentially finish all of your finals early and start winter break before everyone else, which is definitely a plus.


People praise you


There is a lot of negativity surrounding English majors, but we receive quite a bit of praise, too. I’m always getting told in amazement, “Wow, props to you! I could never be an English major,” or “I could never write that much, how do you do it?”. People will even ask you to edit their papers or proofread letters and documents for them. We get respect for the things we can do because not everyone is capable of it.


Cheaper books


Usually, English majors have to buy novels for their classes rather than textbooks, which is significantly cheaper and way more interesting to read. 


Second language requirement


I was required to take up to a certain level of language courses. This additional skill of a second language is always beneficial since it expands the groups of people you are able to talk to, making you an even better communicator. With second language requirements comes the opportunity to study abroad, which is a valuable experience.


Majoring in English and other humanities and arts degrees are just as important as science or technology degrees. The world needs people who know how to communicate because, without them, businesses would fall apart. If any of these reasons appeal to you, definitely consider giving English a shot!

Emily is a junior and majoring in English at Michigan State University.
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