choosing a major

Tips for the Writing Majors

July 2, 2015 in Academics, Alive Campus

Choosing the right major is probably the most essential part of college. Some students immediately know what they want to study, while some may switch it around 10 times before finally being sure of what they want to do. Either way is completely okay as long as you eventually find your track. I am currently an Editing, Writing, and Media major at the Florida State University, preparing to enter my senior year. After being a part of the major for 3 years, it’s safe to say that there are both pros and cons to the major, just like any other. I chose to study this during my college application process when I was a senior in high school, and never even thought to switch over to another major the past three years. Fortunately, it’s something that I’ve always been set on studying.

The major itself is fundamentally for those who want to go into some form of publishing, whether that’s with magazines, digital websites, etc. Internships that several students experience at FSU are usually within publishing houses, and it’s actually required that we have at least one internship that we receive school credit for prior to graduation if we choose to study EWM. My suggestion is to do an office internship in addition to a digital internship so you can experience both and see what works best for you.

The major is not necessarily difficult like that of organic chemistry, but it’s extremely time consuming since it’s mostly all papers and intricate digital projects that involve programs like Photoshop and InDesign. The several assignments are essentially what your grades are based on as opposed to tests like that of most majors. The positive aspect is that you don’t have to stress out over one simple test affecting your grade, but this can also be a good or a bad thing depending on how good a test taker you are. The most important thing to remember is to not pile yourself with all writing classes in one semester, or you will be swamped every night writing some type of paper or reading 300 pages a night. Spread it out and take your electives as you’re doing your major classes each semester. By doing so, you have at least one class that doesn’t involve so many time-consuming assignments.

There will always be classes in each major that seem pointless, and EWM is no different. I’ve had very helpful ones that improved my writing and digital skills drastically, but I’ve also had history of writing classes that weren’t very beneficial to what I plan to do in life. Unfortunately, if it’s required within the major in order to graduate, it has to be completed. The major also requires a minor to go alongside it since it’s it does not take up an abundance of credits, so some students will even choose to double major. I chose the route to have two separate minors- Italian and Communications, since I wanted to study both and have variety of areas of study to include on my resume. It’s also important to note that the major requires you take three years of one language. My suggestion is to stick to languages like Italian or Spanish, unless you’re passionate about learning the more difficult ones like French or Chinese.

What I personally like about this unique major at FSU is that it’s not exactly Journalism. It strictly focuses on writing and digital work within the media, while Journalism is generally broader in that it includes radio and television as well. Editing, Writing, and Media does not. If you want to go into professions like reporting or television, then Communications is probably the better option. The two are certainly different from one another, so it’s something to keep in mind if you specifically are interested in writing and publishing.

In the end, I’d say that EWM is the perfect major for what I plan to do in regards to my dream profession. I currently have an internship at a major publishing house in NYC, in which I am receiving school credit. Remember that it’s not unusual to change your major several times before settling. It’s just another part of the whole college process!

Choosing a Major

Choosing a Major

Top 3 Pieces of Advice That Helped Me Freshman To Sophomore Year

June 27, 2014 in Alive Campus, Campus Life, Career

Class of 2016 Orientation

Then: Class of 2016 Orientation

‘Don’t base your experience off of other people’s experiences’ – One of my Peer Mentors at orientation

The first year of college isn’t easy or glamorous, no matter what anyone tells you. There is a lot of transitioning and getting used to. There are many obstacles that you can’t plan for.

I grew up in a small town and went to school with the same kids from preschool and elementary to high school. I was never ‘the new kid,’ nor was I forced to make new friends. I’d sort of been in my own shell, besides being around close friends and family. Needless to say, I wasn’t involved; I stayed in my room often, and went home or saw my boyfriend on weekends. I had a few friends, but I wasn’t as comfortable as when I was at home. I saw everyone around me having fun and talking about how much they loved Stonehill, but I couldn’t call it home yet, and I didn’t love it. Thoughts of transferring went through my head. Was this the right choice? I later realized that it was. All I needed to do was give it more of a chance, and actually put myself out there. It couldn’t have been more right for me, but it took time to figure that out. I became comfortable with being myself around people, joined clubs, and now I couldn’t picture myself anywhere else.

Give your new situation a chance. Don’t transfer after only the first semester at a new school. Entering sophomore year after the summer, I felt so much more confident about myself and my friends, that transferring would be unthinkable. You chose your school for a reason, and you might like your transfer school even less.

‘Don’t worry so much about your major, but think about a career goal, and focus on the skills that will get you that job in the future’ – My cousin, a Stonehill professor

Although I always liked English and was good at it, I couldn’t confidently choose it as a major right away. I was very unsure of what I wanted to do, and thought of it as a monumental decision. Others had declared right away; when they applied or as soon as they came to school.  Being undeclared, I felt a little lost.

My first year, I took some required courses and allowed myself to experiment with things I never had a chance to try like anthropology and journalism. I loved journalism, and even though I was a bit soft spoken, I really liked interviewing people and finding stories. I thought long and hard about a career. I didn’t want to choose just journalism as a minor, but I wanted more. I thought about editing and publishing. I loved both reading and writing, and I was itching to be an editor on a magazine at school.

This exploration and thinking eventually led me to creating my own major through interdisciplinary studies, besides declaring English. My professors showed me that creating a major with English, creative writing, journalism, and graphic design classes will give me the skills I need for the editing, publishing, and journalism fields. Now I’m only taking classes that I want and doing what I love.

I declared both my majors in my sophomore year, so don’t rush into picking a major. There are a lot of people who choose something they might like, know little about it, and then end up changing it. It’s easier to go into it skimming the surface of different fields, and getting a feel for every opportunity. Exploring will give you a lot more insight about yourself, and what you do and don’t like. Thinking of a career will help you decide what majors will give you the skills you need to get there.

‘Write every day, all the time, just keep writing’ – My journalism professor

This may seem obvious since I am an English/Interdisciplinary Editing and Publishing double major, but there are so many different types of writing, and most of them are challenging. Practicing and growing are some of the keys to success. While you may be thinking this last piece of advice doesn’t apply to you, writing and communicating effectively truly is crucial to every field, no matter what. Numerous jobs are always looking for great writers and speakers, so keep that in mind along the way. Just because you’re a math major, doesn’t mean people won’t expect you to write well and be able to explain yourself. Writing has not only helped me to grow as a professional, but also as a person.

These are only three bits of advice that have stuck with me over my past two years at Stonehill, but they sure aren’t the only pieces of advice I’ve received. Words people have spoken to me and things I’ve learned have helped to shape my story and my experience. I hope that you read these and can learn a little something, and apply them to your experience as well. The only direction we can take this advice is up.

Now: Confident in Sophomore Year

Now: Confident in Sophomore Year

Is English the Right Major For You?

June 25, 2014 in Academics, Alive Campus

bookshelves

So you want to be an English major? Good choice! But take my advice, don’t just jump into it without being prepared. Here’s how to know if English is a good fit for you:

  • Think long and hard:

It probably goes without saying, but choosing a major is a process that requires a lot of effort. You’ll want to put serious thought into the decision. Consider your strengths and weaknesses, your likes and dislikes, and remember that your strengths and your interests might not always completely line up. An English degree is surprisingly versatile, but it won’t prepare you for everything. Copywriting/copyediting, publishing, education, marketing, communications, law, creative writing, and technical writing are just a few broad fields that English majors find themselves in after graduation. Although these are not the only options, think about where you see yourself in a few years–do these sorts of jobs appeal to you? Be honest with yourself when you are making your decision.

  • Know what the degree requires:

Obviously, an English major is going to be expected to read and to write copious amounts of text. If you dislike either one, you’re going to hate studying English. Nevertheless, just because you like to read books doesn’t mean that an English major is necessarily right for you either. The major requires the ability to think critically, to analyze, and to generate a reaction to assigned texts. The same goes for writing–your writing skills will constantly be put to the test with short essays, long papers, and analyses about literature, poetry, literary criticism, and more.

  • Be flexible:

You’ll have to be flexible and open to trying new things when you’re an English major. There are countless genres and eras of literature that an English major is assigned every semester, and you’re bound to dislike some of the assignments. Whether you hate contemporary literature, or despise medieval period texts, get used to it–you’ll be forced to read, analyze, and write about every type of text! You’ll likely even have to take entire classes dedicated to genres or time periods that you can’t stand in order to fulfill degree requirements. It can seem like a drag, but in the end, you’ll have a wider range of knowledge, and you’ll be a better thinker overall.

  • Don’t be afraid:

English majors often get a bad rap for being unemployable or unskilled, but these couldn’t be farther from the truth. The unemployment rate for graduates with an English degree is no higher than some stereotypically employable science fields, and the degree is applicable to a far broader range of jobs than many other degrees. English graduates walk away with incredible critical thinking skills, and are able to analyze and communicate well–these skills are useful and desirable in so many fields. Should you settle on an English major, there will indubitably be people–adults and students alike–who tell you that you are pursuing a useless degree, or that you will never get a job after college. Please don’t listen to these people! Only you know where your true passions lie, no one else knows you like you know yourself. If an English degree is something you genuinely want to pursue, don’t let naysayers steer you away from your dreams!

The Plight of the English Enthusiast

April 24, 2014 in Academics, Alive Campus, Career

jack kerouac writing

One of the most exciting parts of shipping off to college and essentially starting a new life is the number of new people you meet on an almost daily basis. You are surrounded 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by hundreds of students—in the dorms, in classes, around campus—and nearly every time you are introduced to someone new, you are bound to exchange the usual general background information: where you’re from, what year you’re in, and what major you are. Everyone has grown accustomed to answering these inquiries, but only some have put up with the snarky looks of disdain when explaining that their major is English.

As many times as I have had to explain that I am a freshman from the greater Philadelphia area, I have had to rationalize my decision to pursue a so-called “useless” English degree. Yes, I am fully aware that I will not be hired and paid to read Kurt Vonnegut or blog about how much I relate to the poor, misunderstood soul that is Holden Caulfield—and believe it or not, as much as I’d love making a living doing just that, that is certainly not my intention in studying English. The skills one acquires in studying language develop communication and critical analysis abilities, which are easily applied to careers outside of just creative writing.

Contrary to popular assumption, the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) college majors that worried parents advise their teenagers to declare often carry unemployment rates as low as other less prestigious liberal arts majors after graduation. This is, in large part, due to concentration requirements of STEM subjecst. Every college major or field of study can be further divided into specialized categories, and STEM fields tend to require the most specialization. For example, ‘engineering’ is an extremely broad topic—every “engineering student” is actually a student of one of many specific types of engineering. The English graduate—whose degree can be applied very broadly—facing a 7% unemployment rate seems deprived when compared to the environmental engineer with only a 2.2% unemployment rate, but is better off than the industrial engineer with a 9.25% unemployment rate. Thus, declaring STEM subjects as promising the most job opportunities is far too broad a statement, and in actuality is not always the case.

It is also worth noting that teaching is not an English major’s only option, as so many non-English majors assume. Professions that require or accept an English degree extend far beyond the field of education. For example, broadcast journalism sensation Barbara Walters earned a Bachelor’s in English from Sarah Lawrence College. Actor James Franco is currently working on a PhD in English from Yale. Astronaut Sally Ride received a Bachelor’s in English from Stanford.

Looks like the myth of the struggling English graduate has been busted. And, at the end of the day, what really matters most is not some set of statistics on post-graduation employment rates, but that you choose the major that suits you best, that impassions and excites you. I have the utmost respect for the physicists and pharmacists, the statisticians and surgeons of the world—but numbers are not my forte, and blood creeps me out.