People joke that you can’t do anything with an English major, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the most popular majors in the United States. Just about every college and university offers a degree in English, and truth be told it results in some pretty well-rounded, easily employed graduates. While you may not be able to do much with an associate’s degree in English, a bachelor’s from a good liberal arts school will qualify you for plenty of different career paths.
English majors better enjoy reading because they’ll do plenty of it. Not only will they read classic pieces of literature from throughout the ages, they’ll read literary critiques of each piece. They’ll of course get to write their own critiques … and then spend twice as much time reading the critiques of their classmates.
English majors learn to be pretty good critical thinkers. They do a lot of comparisons in their writing, finding similarities and differences between things and passing judgment on which is better. They also are top winners in shows like Jeopardy! or games like Trivial Pursuit because of all the little tidbits of information they pick up and retain.
It’s OK if English isn’t your first language, or even if it is but you’re not the fastest reader in the world. However, if you’ll have a hard time reading the equivalent of a book a week (sometimes more), this major may be too much for you to handle.
In addition to a better understanding of the English language – its origins, proper grammar and extensive vocabulary – you’ll learn enough history to consider double-majoring. You’ll spend a lot of time learning about different eras – both the era a story is set in and the time period it was written in. You’ll learn a lot about different authors and who influenced them, and you’ll explore what modern authors are influenced by them today.
Not all English majors go on to be English teachers or authors. There are plenty of fields for writers, from columnists on Web sites to speech writers for major politicians. There’s also room for English majors in the business world. In fact, any field where strong communication skills are necessary there’s room for an English major.
If your high school offers Advanced Placement English classes, take it. If not, try taking entry-level courses at a community college. Also, even if you’re not in it to become a published author, try to get some work published before you even start college. You’ll better appreciate the process others went through if you’ve gone through it yourself.
Some of your professors might be accomplished authors or poets themselves. Take advantage of the chance to glean knowledge from them by getting involved with them. Volunteer to be a teacher’s assistant, or submit work to a magazine they may contribute to.