Why I'm Majoring in English

“What are you majoring in?” “English.” Cue an oddly large smile followed by a condescending question as to whether or not I will become a teacher, because that’s the only possible career move that I could hope to make a cent off of with such an outlandish degree, right?

The goal of this article is not to try and persuade anyone of the exact affluence of an English degree because I’m not even sure myself. I’m essentially flying by the seat of my pants here, as I’m sure any soon-to-be college freshman is with their respective majors. The only difference is the reception of that major by friends, teachers, co-workers, and even relatives. Engineering, business, and nursing are well known to get a good reaction out of people. It’s just where the jobs are.

I made the decision to major in English because I wanted to pursue something I love. Whilst at my college orientation a few weeks ago, one of the professors presented a great analogy: if you won the lottery today, and never had to work for a living, would you still want to do what you are majoring in? If the answer is no, you are most likely chasing a degree that just promises a desirable income. If the answer is yes, you are most likely pursuing your passion.

Referring back to the introduction, I am actually planning on teaching. However, there are many more career opportunities with an English major than that. Many graduates have found jobs in publishing, writing, communications, and even social work. The comprehension skills learned through an English degree are invaluable.

Over the past few months, in preparation for college, I have delved into reading classics. I’ve found that literature is extremely rewarding, and helps to turn one into a well-rounded individual.

Here are some quotes from my favorite classics that I feel relate to my passion for English, grammar, and literature.

“My task, which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel – it is, before all, to make you see.” – Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad

“A written word is the choicest of relics. It is something at once more intimate with us and more universal than any other work of art. It is the work of art nearest to life itself.” – Walden by Henry David Thoreau

“I slipped the book into my pocket. I assure you to leave off reading was like tearing myself away from the shelter of an old and solid friendship.” – Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

“Wasn’t writing a kind of soaring, an achievable form of flight, of fancy, of the imagination?” – Atonement by Ian McEwan

“My work is not a piece of writing designed to meet the needs of an immediate public, but was done to last forever.” – History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides

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