When I tell people that I was an English major, the first thing they ask is, “But what can you do with that?” The second is, “Say something in Shakespeare!”
From my experience, there seems to be a general consensus that English literature or Art students aren’t studying anything important, so they evidently have no future. But that’s not true. If you are one of those people, or you have doubts about majoring in English, here are a few myths about English majors, exposed!
There are tons of jobs for English majors. Teaching, writing, editing, journalism, marketing—all of these often require English as a prerequisite. Plus, an English major has the opportunity to double major in something else like computer studies, writing, or social studies. These subjects can broaden the job possibilities out there. So, don’t worry, we can take care of ourselves.
Unlike science, English as a subject does not require any factual memorization, lab reports, or soul-crushing multiple choice tests. Nor does it include mathematical formulas and scary equations that take up a whole blackboard. Because of that, people may assume that studying English literature is the ‘easy way out’ for people who ‘aren’t smart’.
Assign a math whiz an 11-page paper that analyzes three books and their common themes and ideologies and I’m sure they won’t have the easiest of times (not that English majors do, either…). That said, I once took an assumedly easy science course and nearly failed. We all have our strengths, and sometimes they lie in reading five-pound books and talking about them.
Being an English major doesn’t mean we excessively read Harry Potter all the time (I mean, we do but there’s more to it). There are so many types of literature that touch upon more than just words and writing styles. Studying English means you are also studying elements of history, sociology, psychology, the condition of the human race, and art. There are English courses solely devoted to postcolonialism, everyday life, and literary theory. Yes, we also have courses on fantasy novels but that’s just one of the perks. Like I said before, someone may not be good with numbers, but they may be great with words. It depends on the person. I knew a girl who double majored in English and math!
I mean, that would be ideal. But reading is only one part of the whole experience and it’s not a waste. Studying English means you have a ton of class discussions, tests, exams, and essays upon essays upon essays. And I’ll admit it, I skimmed through book summaries online instead of reading the whole book a few times…
Yeah, this one’s true. I mean, is it really that hard to tell the difference between your and you’re?
Halah is a writer and editor with a passion for art, books and travel. She’s an expert at sleeping on trains.