What an English degree gets you
Kara Jobmann | Staff Writer
As an English major, the snarky and condescending questions from people on what you plan to do with your life are endless. Nobody asks what a person majoring in journalism will do. But for an English major, there are many who do not see the benefits of the degree.
For all students going to college, choosing a degree and graduating is a scary thing. Entering the adult world where people expect you to act a certain way and have everything together, while also finding a job and officially being on your own, is hard enough without people mocking the degree you spent $40,000 on and four years pursuing.
English, art and history majors all receive the same kind of flak. But English majors have a set of skills that many people operating in today’s society don’t always have. First and foremost, English majors have a firm grasp on the language they speak and write. With this ability, English majors can communicate, vocalize emotions and navigate through choppy waters.
English majors are well read, meaning that they have an idea of what past societies and histories look like. While there aren’t any studies to support just how many books English majors read, one can imagine how much they read per week. Some forums have people claiming they read anywhere from three to five books per week as an undergraduate. The ability to read gives insight into the human condition, the past and the present.
There are assertions from writers like James Baldwin stating that the poet captures and puts words to things that others cannot. The English major not only has a solid grasp on his or her language but on grammar as well. You can blow off grammar and spelling all you want, but the importance of these skills cannot be neglected. A person may have the most brilliant ideas, but if he or she cannot vocalize or put it into words, what good is the idea?
Earning a degree in English is no simple task, so the idea that it is an easy major is frankly preposterous. Reading huge books and analyzing sections of ancient texts to find deeper meaning is not something that everyone can do. Reading and analyzing texts deepens the understanding of that culture, the writer and the time that person was living in. Writing 10-page papers on these texts is also no cakewalk.
When you major in English, you learn more about the world from the people who were there. Books are a portal to the past. Books put into words complex emotions, like the fear of death or the fear of living, and are described in ways that people can relate to. Books allow people to feel that they are not alone.
Earning an English degree is much more difficult than just reading a book and turning in an essay. The process of writing self-reflecting papers has more struggles than many realize. Writing a paper that fleshes out your darkest thoughts and forces you to come face-to-face with the past has literally driven several authors to suicide.
The pursuit of an English degree is not to knock around and not work. It is the pursuit of higher self-awareness and an understanding of the world. It is the pursuit of historical knowledge and understanding the way humans work and think. The pursuit of an English degree is the pursuit of a higher level of education, just like any other degree.
Featured Illustration: Samuel Wiggins
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