If you just became an English major, are undeclared and considering English, or if you are a senior and wondering why you chose this path, I hope you find the following tips helpful. As an English major in my senior year, I often remind myself of these tips, which has helped me make the most of my experience thus far.
- Engage with your professors. If you love the book you are reading, tell them. If you hate the book you are reading, tell them. If you can’t understand the book you are reading, tell them. They have put in years of reading, writing and research to engage in these very conversations with you. Take them up on their office hour time…and not just after a bad grade on a paper!
- Engage with your classmates. Those infamous English class circles don’t go away in college, at least not at Stonehill, but I have truly learned to love them. Think of the circle as the perimeter of a spider web. Every time someone asks a question, or disagrees, or contributes to the conversation, you create a beautiful web of connections. And when a class really meshes, when you look forward to going to class discussions, that connection is almost tangible.
- Don’t be intimidated by other people’s libraries. If you are an English major, odds are you like to read. But there is a chance you chose this major as a way to reignite a lost love for reading. Or perhaps you love poetry but find yourself in a novel-heavy curriculum in your classes. Point being, you will meet people who have read more than you, and I don’t want you to think lesser of yourself when you do. Not everybody reads at the same pace or has time to read 100 books a summer. Be willing to listen to those people, even if you have not read the same books. They can offer recommendations and perspectives for when you do find some time.
- Trust your instinct—there is a future after the English major! You might get funny looks when you tell people what you are studying. I know I have. I have also had people comment on how they used to love to read and write-that writing is a lost art form. Anyone you talk to will give you a different opinion. Remember why you chose this major and how you feel when you are in those engaging classes or with your nose in a book. There are endless possibilities after college as well. Teaching is not the only option, though teaching is a great option. This world is in constant need of editors, writers, librarians, publishers, and overall creative thinkers. As long as you are motivated, you will be okay.
- Get your work done, but don’t rush it. Don’t get me wrong, your success in a class is essential…college is not cheap! With that being said, if you get too caught up in rushing to get an assignment done or skimming a reading to get the gist of it, you will never reach the potential to understand and analyze that text to the fullest. And forget grades for a minute, you just won’t enjoy it as much. Even if you dislike it, you won’t dislike it as much. Open yourself to every reading and embrace the challenges it may offer and the thoughts it may provoke.