There are several common misconceptions and stereotypes about English Majors. As an English Major, I’ve experienced my fair share of people assuming what I like, what I am good at and what my goals are – just by knowing my major and nothing else. It can become burdensome having to correct people constantly about what it is really like to be an English Major, and honestly, I have reached my limit with letting the general public accept these myths as facts. So, without further ado, read on to discover five commonly accepted myths about English Majors!
1. We all want to be teachers.
Every. Time. (Almost) Every time I tell someone I am an English Major, I get the response, “So you want to be a teacher.” Teaching is an amazing life calling, but I have not been drawn to that line of work. I know so many English Majors who want to be writers, lawyers, advertisers, journalists, editors and so much more. Yes, I know English Majors who want to teach, but they by no means make up 100 percent of the English Major population. We English Majors have diverse skills, assets and ambitions, and there are a huge variety of fields that we are called to work in. It is oversimplifying and shortsighted to assume that every English Major is destined to be a teacher. In fact, a huge reason why I and so many others have chosen English is that we don’t like to be boxed in. We have so many goals, and we knew that English would allow us the opportunity to explore our passions and expand our skill sets.
2. It was the easier route.
When you go into the liberal arts field, you are warned by everyone and their brother that you won’t be making bank after graduation. We literally look into total darkness and the unknown and say, “But this is what I love, this is what I am good at, so I am going to take the risk and hope that everything works out.” If we went into a more specific field, like Engineering or Computer Science, we could be confident that (probably) a decent job would be available after graduation. This is not to say that fields such as Engineering or Computer Science are easy in any way either, but rather to draw attention to the fact that choosing to be an English Major is a scary decision.
Not only is the job market a daunting place as an English Major, but the classes aren’t a cakewalk either, thank you. I know plenty of people who shudder at the thought of their high school English class; college English classes are even more specific and demand a higher caliber of writing. English majors spend almost every week in school reading, writing, researching, analyzing and editing multiple assignments for multiple classes. It is an overwhelming challenge, even for those who like to read – we have a limit.
3. We use perfect grammar and spelling ALL THE TIME, and can give a definition for any word at the drop of a hat.
We are human, too. We use shorthand in our texts; we mispronounce things; we forget grammar rules (and sometimes entire words). It drives me up the wall when I make a grammatical error while I am having a casual conversation with someone, and they correct me by saying “You’re an English Major, you should know better.” Yes, I am an English Major, and yes, I do know better. I dissect my essays for hours making sure that every single word is perfect and every comma and semicolon is in its rightful place, but when I am off the clock, I won’t be dissecting my every word and panicking over syntax.
4. We have read all the classics, and loved them.
I can confidently say that I dislike most of my assigned reading from high school and college. I have only picked up Shakespeare for fun once, and that was to read “Twelfth Night,” which was rather short and also the plot inspiration for “She’s The Man” (A.K.A. my inspiration to read “Twelfth Night”). We have definitely read some classics, and it is likely that we liked one or two, but we aren’t all literature snobs by any means.
5. We judge everyone else on their writing and grammar.
I hope a Computer Science Major isn’t judging me on my computer skills, because I am completely hopeless when it comes to technology. Be comforted to know, all Non-English Majors out there, whether good or bad, we aren’t judging anyone else on their writing abilities. We don’t have the energy to look beyond our own insecurities about our own writing. If anything, we might find inspiration from others’ writing styles. I have yet to help proof-read someone’s essay and had any thought beyond, “How can I best help this person by applying the knowledge and skill sets I have gained from my English studies.” We aren’t judging your writing, or looking to catch you in a grammar mistake. If you ever want an editor or need a second set of eyes to look at a writing assignment, though, we couldn’t be happier to help.