Time and time again I hear that being an English Major is a horrible decision. “Why would you pick that major,” people say, “it doesn’t make any money!” If you’re an English Major, you’ve probably heard this numerous times. English gets labeled anathema and unworthy of respect. In order to combat this view, however, we must be English Majors who strive to make the most out of our time in college before receiving our degree.
1) Realize the Degree Doesn’t Mean You’ve Done All You Could
You should know that a degree means you have proficiently completed the requirements of whatever college you attended. It does not, however, measure how much you’ve actually learned and grew in your writing and analytical skills. Sure, a G.P.A can hint at that, but if you’ve been a college student for any length of time you know that some classes are just plain easy while other classes are incredibly difficult. The G.P.A then, isn’t necessarily the best gauge. Once we understand that the degree doesn’t measure the full success and learning that we’ve had, we can set our sites on making the most of our time and being diligent to learn.
2) Try To Get an Internship
Get some work experience! Instead of sitting around and reading books all day long, English Majors should try to use their skills (if you don’t use it, you lose it!) by applying for internships at publication offices, newspapers, writing centers, or even in libraries. This not only boosts your resume’, but allows you to practice everything you’ve been learning in classes and hone your skills.
3) If You Can’t Get an Internship, Find Ways to Use Your English Skills
I get it; it’s not always easy to snatch an internship like I just mentioned. Don’t worry, though, I wasn’t able to do that either! But, this doesn’t give us an excuse to not use our skills and practice. Find websites, such as Yahoo, where you can writer articles and publish them. This keeps your in the habit of writing, and as we all know, practice makes perfect! Additionally, you can start your own website or blog where you can write daily or, at the very least, weekly. It doesn’t matter what you write about, so long as you are writing!
4) Take Professors Feedback
Often times, English students will receive feedback from professors but not really put them into practice. If they tell you that your paragraph structures stink, ask them how to make them better and then practice! One of the best professors I’ve had in my college career was the one who offered the most criticism of my papers; even if they received a good grade, he wanted to point out how we can always do better.
5) Read Books on Writing
The same professor who offered me criticism, is the same one who encouraged me to read at least one new book on writing/editing a year. He said that he has kept this practice for about the last twenty years, which has helped him hone his writing skills and continually get better. Although you are currently in college, I’m willing to bet you could learn a lot by doing something similar to this; after all, we always have room for improvement!
Let’s not give people a reason to demean the English Department that we love and treasure. If we are hardworking and willing to be the best writers we can be, perhaps more respect will come to English as a whole. And no, an English Major doesn’t just pigeon hole you into a teaching job; you can be so much more!