Even though I didn't come into college thinking that I would major in English, I am so glad that I switched! I'm an English major and I'm proud of it. However, I've learned through various personal experiences ever since I declared myself as an English major that not everyone gets what it means to be an English major and there is a lot of misconceptions about us. Here are some common myths about majoring in English - debunked:
1. All English Majors Are Going To Be Teachers
Sigh. Though I think teaching is a great profession and I have seriously considered becoming a college professor, I find it disheartening that most people think that English majors can't do anything else with their degree besides teach. Whenever I tell people that I'm majoring in English, their first question almost always is: "are you going to teach?" English is such a flexible major since it provides the chance to go down multiple paths, which isn't always the case with other majors.
2. It's Impossible To Get A Job With A Degree In English
My response to this? Goodbye. If you don't think that English offers a plentiful array of careers than you are just completely ignorant to the field. A degree in English can lead to working in editorial positions, publishing, digital media, marketing, public relations, journalism, the entertainment industry, law, non-profit, and, of course, teaching. Yes, it's competitive, but let's be honest - what career field isn't competitive nowadays? We live in a time where even STEM majors with perfect grades are unable to land a decent job. It might seem like a more difficult career journey to some, but if it means studying and working in an area I'm truly passionate about, then it's all worth it.
3. English Is An Easy Major
Picking a major in English is by no means taking the easy way out and wanting to breeze through college. Honestly, I think all majors require hard work and dedication, whether it's theatre or biology. It's the same with English. When you have to read with understanding and analysis in mind, it takes forever to power through dense 19th-century novels. Essays are assigned often, and considering English professors are grading them, they have to be written almost flawlessly. Also, nothing really ever has a straight answer in an English major's studies, since everything can be affected by interpretation. This major isn't for the faint of heart.
4. English Isn't A Practical Major
It's startling how obvious it is that English is indeed a practical area of study, considering that we all utilize language every day. Being held to high standards when it comes to writing complex and lengthy essays gives English majors the invaluable opportunity to sharpen the written skills, which is an asset in both professional and personal capacities. English majors are constantly encouraged to think critically about messages, meanings, symbols, and human nature in general. It's also a major where creativity is not just encouraged, but necessary, and a lot of employers are looking for innovative job applicants. And yes, we know all about literature, and I don't want to live in a world where that kind of knowledge isn't considered practical anymore.
5. All English Majors Do Is Read Books
There's no denying that the English majors spend a lot of time reading literature for their classes. However, it's more than simply reading. I love to read, but even I know there's a difference between reading for school and reading for fun. Reading for school requires paying attention to every detail in sometimes extremely dense — or extremely old — texts, as well as locating various elements such as symbols and themes. My English classes are very discussion-based, so you have to be comfortable with sharing your ideas and thoughts with others, even though there's a chance that someone might vehemently disagree with you. Also, there is, of course, a lot of writing involved.
Obviously, this is a subject I'm extremely passionate about, and yes, I'm definitely biased since I love being an English major. But these myths are harmful and have the potential to shatter the confidence of someone pursuing a degree in English. It honestly breaks my heart to think of someone deciding not to major in English — no matter how passionate they are about it — because someone told them that they "won't get a job" or that it's the "easy thing to do," when statements like those are untrue. Here's to all my fellow English majors out there that are earning a degree that matters and are working towards further debunking these myths surrounding the major.