What Every English Major Should Know
Living as an English Major:
• College is a time to learn skills valuable to your future happiness, life, career. Don’t rush through the learning process thinking the goal is merely to attain a degree.
• Students should carefully plan and space out the courses that they hope to take so they are not overloaded with any one type of class during any one particular semester. Visit with the department advisor early in your major and periodically throughout.
• Take the General Ed. classes you are dreading early in your career here.
• Consider taking some language classes or the BA language option. Knowing another language can make your life more enjoyable and your career even more marketable.
• You’re an English major because of some affinity with or to language. Don’t treat language and texts as something to be finished with. Read and reread, write and rewrite. The texts you read and the texts you write are never finished. The first reading of a text or draft of a paper is a starting point not an ending point.
• The thinking, interpretive, speaking, and writing skills you learn/practice in one class is completely transferable to other classes, to life, and to your careers.
• Practice writing and reading often and with gusto–don’t be afraid to get things wrong. Be self reflective about your writing and your meaning-making process.
• Consider the idea of minors that interest you. They will allow you a more in depth study of secondary areas of interests and can add to the pleasure of your life and marketability of your skills.
• Consider working or interning in a field prior to graduation. At least meet with individuals who do what you want to do. People love to talk about how they got where they are.
• Use your instructors as a resource. Get to know every one of your instructors. Visit them at least once a semester. Just drop in during office hours and ask about something interesting from the class. Meeting your professors helps them to know you, know you are serious, and heck some of them are actually fun to talk to.
• In planning your education always remember to keep your end goal of graduation in mind, but don’t let that goal keep you from pursuing topics, classes, or outside interests that motivate you. You are working on building a life for yourself–not just training for your career. Don’t lose the joy of your major interests, especially not while you’re still in college.
• Submit your writing and or work on the staff for one of the student publications at UVSC. It will give you experience in writing/editing/publishing; it is fun; and it will look good on your Resume/vita.
• Practice your excellent communication skills while still in college. Be aware of the rhetorical context created by opportunities for communication. Communicate with others in classes and the professors in ways that reflect a savvy understanding of content, purpose, and audience.
• Participate in service groups and other organizations which interest you. Find time to meet with people who share your interests and network with others who may share similar life goals.
• Be respectful and appreciative of professors. Differ with them all you like but try to remember that they are far more than just service providers.
Why English Will Help You in Your Life and Careers:
• The Language skills you learn in English foster a sense of versatility. If you understand communication and can communicate your ideas well–you are an asset you yourself, your affiliations, and your employer.
• Writing well is a skill that not everyone has. Writing creates artifacts that can be excellent or embarrassing. Every group and employer needs someone to ensure the artifacts that represent it are accurate and excellent.
• People who have learned how to write and interpret numerous types of communication have proven that they can learn anything. Your employer will benefit from your ability to analyze and learn new skills necessary for your job.
• English majors tend to have read a lot about different aspects of life. This knowledge makes you interesting and fun to be around.
• English majors, through wide reading and exposure to critical theory, develop a more nuanced perspective of the world at large. Understanding how the perspectives of people can differ on any given topic allows you to be more accepting and less absolute in your dealings with people from different backgrounds.
• English majors tend to be readers. Readers tend to be intellectually curious. Lifelong intellectual curiosity is the key to a fulfilling life. Intellectually curious senior citizens are less likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s, Dementia, or just plain boredom.
• English majors’ speaking and writing skills can be useful to organizations and employers for getting clear and accurate messages out to the public.