If you are an English major you probably get a lot of “So, what are you going to do with that degree?”
I have learned to expect it.
Throughout my four years in college, I have learned that if you are not majoring in teaching, nursing, pre-med, or any other medical related field, people are skeptical.
It may be because I am from a small town where employment options are limited, but many people are stricken when I tell them I am studying English. They immediately tell me I will be unemployed and unhappy.
English majors are so tired of this.
Do you think we don’t spend a significant amount of time worried if we will find a job or not? do you think it’s encouraging to hear someone tell us that what we love isn’t marketable? do you think we all want to stay in the same small town?
Comments like those are discouraging, and quite frankly not true.
The thing people from small towns and, probably all across the country, don’t realize is that not everyone is a tradesman, doctor, nurse, or teacher.
Although we need all of those professions,
What we also need are writers.
Every company you can think of needs and employs writers to draft their press releases, handle their social media, work in copywriting, etc.
Not all English majors want to be authors or even teachers.
Some English majors want to work in journalism, freelance writing, editing, and publishing. These options are all viable because a degree in English equips you with the skills to write succinctly, correctly, and often creatively. However, it also allows you to analyze and comprehend texts, form arguments, and be an effective communicator. For this reason, many English majors go on to be amazing lawyers. Little do people know, an English degree is one of the most flexible options out there.
English majors love to read, and we are good at it. However, what we are often not good at is quadratic equations and memorizing biological processes, because we find it boring. Studying literature allows us to step into a different culture and understand things that we could have never comprehended before. Literature teaches us things about humanity and society. If you are an English major, odds are that you like to explore things from this sort of angle, rather than dissecting physical creatures for your answers about life.
And that’s okay.
We are all different. For so long I tried to pursue a degree that was “marketable” and “normal” when the entire time my heart held a seed that had been planted years before. I loved writing, I loved literature, and I loved the idea of working in journalism or publishing. Those jobs were dreams come true to me. But because I listened to what people in my small community told me, I thought I could never have them. I thought they didn’t exist.
My mother was a teacher, and she was great at it. I had seen first-hand that it was a good job that I could acquire a position in back home, gave me summers off, and was reliable. I loved literature and writing, so I thought my best bet was to teach middle school English and Social Studies.
But there was a problem.
There were classes involving teaching and students that were getting in the way of my American and British Lit surveys. They were alright, but I didn’t enjoy them. I always seemed to be completing those classes without interest, wishing I had more literature classes in their place. I also found myself wishing I didn’t have to deal with the aspects of teaching and lesson plans, and could focus more on writing and literary studies.
When I didn’t pass my last praxis exam I knew it was time. It was now or never, and I took this as a sign.
When I decided to veer from my path as an English teacher an entire world opened up to me. My dreams were real, there were people living them! There were people working as editors, journalists, book representatives, and more. These were jobs I could get! They actually existed!
To those of you who aren’t interested in English those jobs probably sound incredibly boring, but to me, they were a dream come true.
I think the best thing you can do is to go confidently into what you love. Regardless as to if it is theatre education, biomedical science, accounting, or even English. Don’t listen to what others say about your expected degree because odds are, they don’t know anything about it and that is why they are speaking so negatively.
Most people have no idea the variety of things you can pursue with a degree in English and assume that you want to simply be “a writer”, which is not wrong, but to outsiders is vague.
When people talk negatively to you about “what you want to be when you grow up” hit them with the facts, but also explain that you are doing what you love. Life is short. We all deserve to study the things we are passionate about.
I hope if you feel like you are in the wrong major you take the steps to get on your right path. I hope that you don’t let the negative comments of ignorant people harm your heart like they did mine in the past. Go confidently and pursue that degree with everything you have. That’s the only time it is truly worth it.
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Any other college students out there with similar experiences? Drop a comment down below!