The first images that probably come to mind when someone mentions “English major” are coffee shops and piles of books. While I won’t deny that substantial amounts of reading are done at the campus Starbucks, there is so much more to English majors than reading and grammar. Here are some reasons why majoring in English is one of the best choices you can make:
1. Looking Beneath the Surface
If you think that English majors just read books…you thought wrong. We analyze, predict, make conjectures about, offer opinions about, compare, contrast, interpret, and relate to literature. To us, literature is like an orange, and we squeeze the meaning out of it until only a dry, shriveled-up rind remains. Why would making this metaphorical orange juice be advantageous? Well, we question the text, provoke it, and force ourselves to look beneath the obvious meanings. My high school English teacher related studying English to examining an iceberg – you may see some of the icebergs above the water, but there is so much more beneath the surface level. In refusing to accept texts at their surface level, we develop a mentality and habit of questioning that applies to every-day life as well as to the literature we study.
2. Escaping from Technology
Most English professors ban technology from the classroom i.e. laptops, phones, iPads, etc. We read from printed paper, and take notes by hand. Crazy, I know, but it is truly refreshing to have a break from the digital age once in a while. We retain information better and become more engaged in the classroom setting because the temptation to browse Facebook and Pinterest is not an option. Our ability to focus on the subject matter becomes easier, and the thousands of dollars spent on education actually begin to mean something.
3. Making Human Connections
In the volumes of Jane Austen, John Green, and James Joyce that we study, we develop a greater insight into human nature. Each work of literature – whether it be two to one-thousand years old – provides new insight into the human experience – imperialism, isolationism, individuality, equality, feminism, and so many more concepts are explored. We also have in-depth discussions about our textual interpretations with our peers. and we don’t just discuss the text! We incorporate our personal experiences and adversities as well. We then come to see one another as human beings instead of typical, run-of-the-mill classmates.
4. Writing Well
You had better believe that we learn how to write well! Hours spent in agony over sentence structure, punctuation, and clarity produce great rewards. We learn how to construct concise, flowing sentences that articulate our opinions clearly. This skill takes YEARS of practice, and even after years of instruction, there is always room for improvement. But after countless opinions from peers and professors, we develop the skill that’s worth more than gold. Whether writing an email, business letter, or Instagram caption, we’ve got you covered!
5. Discipline and Determination
Having the capability to write multiple fifteen-page papers, read hundreds of pages, and significantly contribute to class discussions requires extensive discipline. Needless to say, it is not for the faint of heart. Aside from that, having the patience to accept professors’ criticism of your writing, applying the changes, and revising again and again instills a unique determination that can only come from this major.
Being an English major involves so much more than developing the ability to translate Shakespeare. Essential life skills, interpersonal skills, and career skills are developed. Are you still undeclared? Look no further.