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#edgeREWIND: 5 things you didn’t know about English majors

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#edgeREWIND: 5 things you didn’t know about English majors

We all have an idea preconceived about English majors and how they spend their time, but how correct could those assumptions be? Here’s a few things that might just change your mind.

  1. English majors aren’t just writers.

There’s this notion that possessing a degree in English means teaching or writing as a career. While those may be two possibilities, there are many more options available to the English majors upon graduation. There are plenty of famous and successful people in a variety of fields who got their roots in English. In the world of politics, Mitt Romney and Mario Cuomo both have their B.A. in the field. Conan O’Brien double majored in English and History, and Steven Spielberg studied English for three years in college. Not everyone who studies English becomes a novelist.

  1. Their major gives them a good chance at employment.

The running joke with English majors (and any other liberal arts major, for that matter) is that they won’t be able to get a job upon graduation. This can be a little disheartening for those looking to pursue a career in the field, but it’s not quite as true as everyone says.  A 2012 survey found that 30% of employers recruit liberal arts majors compared to 34% for Engineers. English majors, keep that statistic in mind next time someone tells you that you should pick a different major.

  1. English majors are just like you and me.

What do TV shows want you to think an English major looks like — large scarf, little glasses, ironic T-shirt, sitting at cafe on their laptop typing up their novel or their screenplay? Sounds a lot like a hipster, doesn’t it? Well, those two concepts are not mutually exclusive. All English majors are not hipsters and all hipsters are not English majors. In the Venn diagram of life, there is some overlap between those two.

  1. They don’t have an easier workload.

There is an assumption that having a major with a focus in writing means less work than something more scientific. But there is a lot of time and effort required in writing and editing. Adhering to Associated Press guidelines means knowing lots of very particular rules, as well as being able to apply them to very specific situations. This requires a writer to be meticulous and able to think critically. Choosing to major in English isn’t choosing to do less work. Rather, it’s a different use of the same amount of work.

  1. The grammar police are there to protect you.

Everyone gets annoyed by that friend who insists on correcting your sentences when you make grammar mistakes. But why? You will generally need to know how to write and communicate effectively, no matter what job you end up with after college. Isn’t it important to be able to present yourself well by using correct grammar? It may seem like your English major friend is being a buzzkill, but they’re really doing you a favor. You’ll appreciate it when a future employer is impressed by your verbal skills.

Find out if our English program is right for you!
by Adam Miller, originally published February, 2015

Adam is a senior journalism communications major whose interests include vinyl collecting and ultimate frisbee.

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