As a lifelong reader and future English teacher, it is no secret that I’m really passionate about the subject. In school growing up, I would always be more excited about the prospect of an essay to write rather than a math concept to learn. I came to the University of Connecticut as a Pre-Teaching major without the intent to add English, but during my second semester, I realized how much I loved English and needed to do more with it. This is my best advice for any prospective English major.
1. Get to know the Faculty
UConn English classes are typically small, with the average class size at about 25 students, and a student-to-faculty ratio of just 8:1. With that, there are countless opportunities to get to know professors in these classes and develop meaningful relationships that will carry through the rest of college. Professors hold regular office hours, and if I have the time, I like to go and ask a question in person during these times rather than sending it in an email. It shows dedication to the class and subject and allows me to understand the professors’ expectations better. I also find that having an extra meeting with my advisor here and there not only keeps me on track academically but also opens my eyes to different resources that I would not have known of otherwise.
2. Make Reading a Routine
It will come as no surprise that the English major requires a significant amount of reading and writing. This can get difficult while trying to balance more than one English class with gen-eds, activities, and everything a college student needs to do in a day. My tip here is to make the readings a staple in your daily routine. Reading a book for fun before bed is one of my favorite ways to unwind, but if it happens to be a particularly reading-heavy week, I will trade my latest contemporary romance for a scholarly novel. Not only does this ensure that my reading actually gets done, but since I already have positive associations with my nightly reading, I find that I enjoy the class texts more in the process.
3. Collaborate with Others
Whenever I am dealing with some particularly dense reading, I find it helpful to talk through it with a friend. Even at a school as big as UConn, I often find the same people in many of my English classes, just by chance. Almost every professor recommends having someone in class to share notes and study with, and speaking from personal experience, it is incredibly helpful to have these people around and to be that person. This is especially the case once essays become a regular assignment, and having someone to bounce ideas off of is a lifesaver.
4. Take the Interesting Classes
UConn offers a wide variety of English classes, from Anglophone Literature to Literature and the Environment. If you have the freedom in your schedule, I recommend trying a class that sounds particularly interesting or out of your comfort zone. Worst comes to worst, you can always swap it with a safer choice during the add/drop period, but you could end up having a really positive experience and learn a lot in the process.
Overall, majoring in English at UConn has been a wonderful experience thus far. I love the opportunity to learn about so many elements of what is considered the same subject, whether it be poetry versus prose, fiction versus nonfiction, or the countless areas of study within them. English professors are incredibly passionate about their craft and have some of the most enriching lessons I’ve experienced in college thus far. To anyone trying to decide on a major, especially within the humanities, give English a try. I’m so glad I did.