Don't you just love when you are asked what your field of study is or what you're majoring in? Don't you also love the look on their face when you tell them something that they weren't expecting? I love getting that reaction when I'm in a conversation with a family member's friend and I tell them that I'm an English major with a concentration in creative writing. I get so many different responses and questions to the decision that I made, so here is a list of common things that English majors like myself have probably heard a lot:
1. Why English?
Well, I love English and I want to continue this study into my future career. There are many reasons why students would pick to be an English major besides wanting to be a writer or a teacher, but it takes a lot of research to know the many job opportunities that an English major can open up to.
2. You won't get a job if you choose this route.
Funny thing, there are people who you never expect who went to college and got their undergrad degree in English. People like Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Emma Stone, James Franco, Diane Sawyer, Joan Rivers and Mitt Romney all studied English or literature while in college. The point is, you can be an undergrad English student that can have many options to choose for a career.
3. Who likes English, I hated that class?
Pursuing an English degree in college is totally different than the English classes we had to take in elementary, middle and high school. For my curriculum at Bradley University, I have to take Intro to English studies, Creative Writing, three American and British literature classes, Literary Criticism & Theory and then three writing workshop classes of my choice. There's no more reading the same book two or three times because, in college, we will be reading different pieces of literature by different writers through history. We learn to analyze and to annotate literature to our understanding so we know what is happening.
4. Do my paper for me.
As an English major who has been asked this question a few times, I won't say no, rather I would say, "I can assist you, but not write this paper for you." In college, you have to learn to improve your own writing skills by either reaching out to your professors or visiting your writing center. If you decided to ask your friend that is an English major or just an English major in general, their answer will most likely be no. Professors have the skill to see if the paper is in your own words based on prior experience to previous papers you wrote. Sure, you can say that you improved, but there is a difference between improvement and taking credit from someone's work.
5. Confusion on basic grammar rules.
I'll admit, if I see someone who uses "your" when they were supposed to use "you're," I'll either laugh or shake my head. Grammar is hard and sometimes when you are writing, you aren't using the right grammar rules, I understand. But if you can't understand basic rules like using a contraction at the right time or when to use "its" instead of "it's," it just pains us. My advice is to take your time when you write and read over your work. Please, also have someone proofread it before you submit it because even your professor will be telling you to visit the Writing Center.
6. I hate reading, you should love math.
I'm happy that you love math, but I love reading more. Reading is an essential part of life that not everyone has the opportunity to have this ability. Reading brings in knowledge and knowledge is power. Reading makes the world go round because how are you going to do the math if you can't read numbers? How can you tell if you got paid the right amount of money if you can't read and understand basic math principles? Learning how to read is the best thing I ever have done in life and no one is going to take that joy away from me. You have your numbers, I have my creativity.
7. Isn't that the most boring major to have?
No major is boring, it's something you choose to do. Sure you'll have boring classes that are on your required list, but that's just life. There will be times where you have to do something that you don't want to do, but that's just life. The most boring major is mostly determined by what the person doesn't want to do. In my opinion, I say there isn't a major that is boring because there is always something exciting about anything. It just takes doing the work to get that far.
8. What can you do with that degree after college?
Plenty. English majors can go on to graduate school to pursue what career they want to do, get a part-time or full-time job in the type of writing they want to do or have a job and get started on that first book at the same time. There are many choices we can make, but it's all about making the choice that we want to pursue.
In the end, there are a lot of things that English majors don't like hearing about our field of study, but that doesn't mean that we are going to change it. We like doing what we're doing even though at times we just want to give up or hold something off until we feel ready to do it, but that's just a part of life. It's an obstacle that any major can get over, it's just about completing and getting a degree to show your hard work and effort.
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