It's the holidays and we all know what that means: an endless stream of questions from our friends and family about personal aspects of our lives they have no right having an opinion about. For us Liberal Arts majors, this can often mean being berated about our major and why we chose one that's pointless and has no career path outside of being a high school teacher.
I'm an English major and I love it. But, unfortunately, not too many people see that.
So many people view majoring in English as a kind of cop-out. Like us English majors aren't cut out for "real majors" like STEM or business; so, we chose a major where we can just sit around and read all day with no real work to do as our engineering, nursing, pre-med, and business friends are grinding and getting a "real education" (those same STEM and business majors just love our English abilities while we correct their comma splices and dangling modifiers in the essays that we so graciously edit for their core classes).
I'm here to tell you that all your ideas about what it's like being an English major are so, beyond, wrong.
Being an English major means having 60 pages of reading to do for every class for each English class (this semester I have two). Whether we do these readings or not is a secret we'll never tell (it takes a lot of skill to hold an insightful class discussion about a book you've never read. Just saying).
Being an English major means relaxing one week and then having three 1500-2000 word essays due on the same day because, for some reason, all of our professors decide to use the same schedule.
Being an English major means having a plethora of career opportunities at your disposal post-graduation through the analyzation and writing skills we gain throughout our education. This includes careers in business, law, publishing, journalism, education, and more due to the expansiveness and applicability of our degree.
Being an English major means posessing a capacious arsenal of vocabulary and randomly throwing them out in our daily colloquial speech. Just for fun.
Most importantly, being an English major means that our major was chosen based on our love and passion for it, not for a salary. We attend class because we enjoy what we are doing during it. We enjoy the reading. We enjoy crafting the perfect sentences in our essays. We enjoy sitting in a circle in class and bonding with our professors through our love and respect for Elizabeth Bennett and our concurrence that Jay Gatsby was mostly annoying and creepy.
Our work is different than what looks familiar to a STEM or business major. No, most of our classes don't have classic exams (although they can have them and they can be difficult-- as my The British Novel in the Romantic Period class can enthusiastically prove). But that doesn't mean it's any less real or challenging. In my experience, most of those STEM majors would not want to be writing my essays or taking my Shakespeare classes. Each individual has their strengths and each individual major caters to those strengths. Not every person is fit for every major and English is no different -- and that's okay.
So, why did I choose my major? Because I'm going to spend my four years in college doing what I love and cultivating my passion in order to find a job that is both rewarding personally and financially because I'm an English major and we can do anything we set our minds to.