One of the questions college students get asked the most is “What year are you?” That’s a simple enough question. And right after that usually comes some variation of “What’s your major?” Again, easy. But for English majors, there’s almost always a third, much harder question: “What do you plan to do with your major?”
Get a job. That’s what I plan to do.
For some reason, people seem to believe that if you are getting a degree in English, you must be planning to teach. Otherwise, English must be a pointless degree. What else could you possibly need a thorough understanding of our written language for? Don’t get me wrong, some English majors do wish to teach and that’s wonderful. But that’s most definitely not the only option. That’s more like a single option in a whole Olympic size swimming pool of options. So, generally speaking, when people ask my major, I don’t say English. Instead, I tell people my concentration, creative writing. The confused looks rarely take long to appear. “Creative writing? What even is that? Do you want to write a novel or something?”
Well, yes, I do. Am I going to any time soon? Probably not. Writing a novel is not the only thing I can do with my degree. I really don’t even need a degree in creative writing to do that. It certainly has helped me learn how to craft a story, but many published authors—many critically acclaimed authors—never took a writing class in their life. Creative writing isn’t just storytelling. It’s writing outside the box. Magazines, newspapers, blogs, any form of communication really that’s about getting a point across in an interesting way, that’s me. That’s what I want to do. It’s screenplay, poetry, travel guides, playwriting. It’s writing freely. It’s writing what I want to write.
As I’ve entered my senior year and been asked more and more about my degree, I’ve discovered that many people believe the silly myth that English as a major isn’t very marketable. Sure, I can’t give you much help when it comes to math or chemistry or accounting…but if anyone who has a career in one of those fields need to write a document or textbook or speech, they’ll likely to turn to an editor. Or in other words, an English major. My degree has given me the skills to not only write well myself, but to write well for other people. Written communication is necessary in any field, and that’s exactly what I’m an expert at.
So no, I’m not entirely sure what I’ll be doing when I graduate. That’s okay. I’ve still got time. And I’ve certainly got options. English isn’t a pointless major. It’s a fundamental major. It’s a major that focuses on an essential part of our society—written communication. Social media is a prime example of how important that is. Our world communicates through platforms of text, sharing stories in a thousand different ways. Yes, maybe I don’t know what job I’ll have when I graduate. But I do know that I will be doing something I love, something I’m passionate about, and that’s what matters.