Although many comedians, including Chicago’s own John Mulaney, make fun of English majors, I have really enjoyed my three years here at DePaul in my major. Here are the top five tips and positive attitudes I learned as an English major.
1) An English degree is applicable to any job. When I decided to be an English major, I got a lot of comments about what I could do as a job. They would make fun of me saying that the only career you could get is being an English teacher. And, in fact, I do want to be an English teacher, but there is much more you can do with an English major. Being able to communicate efficiently, think critically, and analyze small details will never not help in any field.
2) There is a lot of flexibility in choosing classes. The English major curriculum at DePaul is tailored so that English majors can study what they want. There are core classes and some required classes, but, for the most part, English students can take the literature time period they like. You prefer medieval literature? 16th century poetry? 19th century romance novels? LGBTQ narratives? Native American Literature? Well, you can tailor your schedule to have those specific classes. There are so many literature classes and the ability to choose what class you want to take is very exciting.
3) English classes are challenging yet getting a good grade is pretty easy. Although there are exceptions, a lot of English professors grade based on big assignments being completed, not “good”. In all the classes I’ve taken so far, and that is a considerable amount, the professor will give me credit for thinking critically about the work and backing up my sources with textual evidence. The classes are difficult, especially my class where we read Paradise Lost and The Canterbury Tales, however I was able to get a good grade because I did the work. Unlike other types of fields like Math where you need to get the correct score to pass, in English, you can almost always do well by interpreting something and having the evidence to support it.
4) Similarly, I love that in English there is no wrong answer (for the most part). Because the poems and literature we’re studying have so many interpretations that could be possible, I never feel put-down in my classes. In some other fields, I always struggle because I feel as if I cannot find my way to the correct answer. In English, whatever you think may be true, as long as you have evidence and a logical progression of thought in your argument. I love that there is no wrong answer in English, so I am able to rhetorically persuade my audience that my answer is a correct one.
5) Lastly, the best part of being an English major is that I get to study stories. Although some literature is very difficult, I am proud to say that I read stories for a living. And I do. Literature, outside of essays, are all fiction and created through imagination of these amazing thinkers and writers in different time periods. Instead of reading textbooks, I get to read fun stories from all time periods. In addition to how much less money I am spending for textbooks, I love how creative and interesting English can be.