Majoring in English

June 13, 2014 in Alive Campus, Campus Life, Career, Colleges


English Student

English Student

You already read on your spare time. You want to write poetry for a living. You’d rather write papers than take tests. You want to be a novelist. You’re really trying to avoid math requirements. You’re going to be an English teacher. To someone not majoring in English, these are the only possible reasons for someone taking up the major.

There is a general stigma around the major that implies its students are either just taking it because its easy, or they are blinded by passion and will eventually end up jobless and broke selling freelance poetry in the Boston Common.Every time I’m having a conversation with anyone about school, after they ask my major and I respond a rehearsed- “English with a concentration in professional writing”, I find myself 1000% sure that within the next few seconds I will be explaining how I’m not planning on writing books or teaching kids.

The truth is there are many ups and downs to taking English as a major. If you’re trying to be an English teacher or poet, it will work out great. It’s also a great major if you’re trying to be a technical writer, an editor, or a marketing editor. At the same time it will hold you back from getting many other jobs that require degrees in other fields. You’re not going to get out of school with your English degree and become a nuclear physicist. (Although you could always go back to school in a few years and try something new).

The degree is what gets you in the door.

An English degree says “Critical thinker who excels in communication, efficient writing, and analytical reading”. These skills are essential in the majority of companies that you will wish to join after senior year. Without proper written communication both amongst coworkers and to customers, there would be a bad public image and a failing business. So, if you are confident enough in your work ethic and ability to improve a company, then it’s just a matter of time until you get your foot in that door.

Passion, hard work, and networking are what get you into desired positions.

I met the (now former) Head Editorial Director of Putnam in the Financial District of Boston, and he went to grad school for journalism. Nobody’s first job is their dream job, and in fact, many peoples’ dream jobs change a month after they land it. But, once you’re in the door, your output means everything and your degree title means nothing. Making the extra effort to reach out to coworkers will help you in a variety of ways, especially if you find yourself in between jobs. The more passion you have for your job, the easier it is to work hard at it and improve your skills.

So if you don’t mind writing a lot of papers throughout your college career, you have a knack for reading, writing, and critical thinking, and you’re prepared to explain your choice to baffled acquaintances for the next few years, look into English as a major. In the process you’ll avoid any high-level math, and if we’re being honest, that’s up there with the best additional perks of the degree.

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