The Life and Times of the English Major
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The Life and Times of the English Major

Why I wanted a useless degree.

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The Life and Times of the English Major
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When I first stepped foot onto the campus of UNC Charlotte, I knew that I was home. The stress of work, moving, starting over, and every other chaotic thing happening in my life simply disappeared. I had direction again. I had purpose. I had a new chapter opening up with endless possibilities. Charlotte offered me the fresh start I was craving. It was a new area where I knew almost no one and I could become a new person. I was in college and ready to change the world. How would I do this? By choosing a major that would set me up for the most successful future imaginable. English with a concentration in Creative Writing. Let the job offers and millions of dollars pour in.

My first mistake was thinking that this wasn't going to be difficult for me. I mean I've loved writing since I was a kid. But I love writing stories that I make up. Writing a paper on the comparisons of trauma in Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried and Art Spiegelman's Maus wasn't exactly something that I would have written on my own time. I also read. A lot. Some of it was great. The Son by Phlipp Meyer is probably the greatest book I've ever read (and is about to become a miniseries on AMC so check it out). But I read a lot of books that took more work to get through. And the volume of books was at times overwhelming. To those who didn't go through this type of gauntlet, reading a novel a week in two classes, writing a short story that your entire class would read and critique in front of you, writing analytical papers on books you hated, and still finding time for your other classes, sleep, social life is no joke.

Now I didn't go into this completely blind. I knew getting an English degree was somewhat risky. That's why I played it safe and minored in Film Studies. You know, a skill to fall back on. But it wasn't until I started getting these emails that I truly saw what I was getting into. Every few months or so, I would get an email from the Department of English basically telling me that I wasn't wasting my time and that being an English major was totally a good idea. While it seemed like an encouraging, reassuring email, complete with a list of jobs I could get with an English degree, I couldn't help but think that engineering majors didn't get these same emails. And while having my roommates and non-liberal arts friends ask me to edit their papers made me feel like a genius, I did wonder if I had made the right choice. Do people care how many books I've read or that I know the difference between your and you're? What would life be like for me after college?

Surprisingly enough, I have a job. A good job. Benefits and everything. Not surprising, I'm not using my degree as much as I'd like. I do get the occasional opportunity to run a creative writing clinic or talk about making comic books (I work with kids). I'm also in the process of applying to grad school so I can teach creative writing at the college level and continue the vicious cycle. For now, I'll continue reading and writing as much as possible because it's what I love to do. I may not be equipped for much, but I wouldn't trade the coffee fueled late nights and the small forest I killed via completely pointless papers that lead me to my degree for anything.

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