Bookstores and libraries are where I have always felt the most at home and I really love to read, so it was no surprise that when I went to college I decided to major in English Literature. What was a surprise, though, were the things people say to me when they find out my major.
These things inspired me to create the following list of things you should never say to an English major.
1. "Oh, so you want to be a teacher?"
When I first started telling people I wanted to major in English, I was so surprised when people would automatically assume I wanted to be a teacher. Now, it's a question I prepare myself for every time someone asks what my major is. This question is typically followed up by an awkward no and me trying to explain to people that I want to go into publishing. This question bothers me the most because the awkwardness of the entire situation would be completely avoidable if people simply asked me why I choose my English major instead.
2. "It must be nice not having real exams."
When final exam time rolls around this is something I hear all the time. Honestly, as someone who tests poorly under exam pressure, I do think it is great not having to take tests. But that doesn't mean I'm not expected to show what I have learned in other ways. Yes, it is great not having to spend my time cramming for an exam; but the time that other students spend studying, English majors spend writing essays. Having five or six essays to write in the span of a single week isn't always a cake walk.
3. "Why don’t you do something in math or science? You’d make more money."
Just because it would mean a bigger salary doesn't mean I should change my major. When I choose English Literature as my major, I did so because it makes me happy. Maybe I would make more money, but knowing I would hate my major and future career isn't worth a larger salary in my personal opinion.
4. "Wow, that must be such an easy major."
Sure I don't have to memorize the periodic table or a bunch of equations, but that doesn't make my English major lesser than any stem major. While my coursework may be a little different, professors expect the best out of our work just the same. For example, an essay for an upper-level English class is going to be held to a different standard than the essays written in a Biology class.
5. "What are you going to do with that major?"
This question is one I get all the time. It's not that I mind telling people what my plans are after graduation that makes me dread this answer, but it's almost always just the way that people present the question. People always feel entitled to judge my major because they think that it is useless and that it has no application in the real world. These people don't realize that there are a countless amount of careers you can have when you major in English.
Hopefully the next time someone tells you that their major is in English you are able to avoid making some of the above statements. Give us the opportunity to explain why we choose our major, rather than approaching the topic with instant judgment. Instead, ask us questions about our major, like any other major, and give us the opportunity to talk about what we're passionate about.