7 Reasons Why English is NOT a Useless Major

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Sometimes, being an English major can psych you out, especially when thinking about your future. What will your extensive knowledge of early Romantic writers’ use of imagery do for you when that diploma is in your hands? Sure, you will have read enough books to fill the library from Beauty & the Beast, but sometimes you wonder what analyzing so many plot lines and hooks is doing for you. People even ask you ridiculous questions like, “What’re you going to do, become a teacher?” And your parents are still hoping that your interest in science sparks back up. Don’t you worry; English is actually a great field of study that’s a lot more versatile than everyone thinks.

1. You Master the Basics

It’s shocking how many people get looked over in their applications for jobs, further education and other life necessities because of horrid grammar. For anyone majoring in English, or journalism or writing, you know that perfect grammar is the rock-solid foundation on which you build everything else. The language of red slashes that English professors speak so well when editing your papers rubs off, and grammar policing your friends proves that editing is engrained in your every thought. It’s an impeccable skill to have when bumbling you’re way through applications and resumes.

2. You’re Not Alone

“Everyone majors in English,” my friend Caroline said the other day, and she’s right—there are a ton of English majors in my year. But there’s a reason that its popularity still thrives even though it gets a lot of trash talk, its versatility makes it ideal for people with various interests. Double majoring is generally pretty common and easy because English is a huge field with cross-listings aplenty. And why should its popularity be a bad thing? That just means more people to complain about #EnglishMajorProblems with.

3. You Learn to Stretch Your Imagination

Reading and writing critically day after day during college leads you to think outside the box, no doubt about it. When every kid in your 20-person class has to write an essay on “Rip Van Winkle,” and the professor has used the same essay assignment for the last 15 years, you have to be really creative and persuasive to earn that “A.” Having trouble coming up with an interesting way to market a job? Not sure how to end a press release? Can’t figure out how to write an email to a company that will guarantee a reply? The English major’s got you.

4. You Can Choose from Endless Concentrations

Creative Writing itself has fiction, non-fiction, poetry, journalism, playwriting… honestly genres can go on and on, and that’s just one of many concentrations in the English major. English concentrations go from something as regionally specific as Caribbean Lit to a field as broad as English Theory—if you’ve got a passion that can be found in the written word, that passion has its own place in the English major. You’re never going to run out of things to study or explore with English because there are just so many facets of the major. So many books, too little time.

5. You Gain Unstoppable Research Skills

Remember that 20-page research paper on John Keats’ use of beauty as truth from your freshman year? While it could end up being the first chapter of your dissertation or the basis of your first novel, it also helped teach you incredibly useful research skills. Your passion for coming up with new material that can be supported by other authors is indispensable, and your resilience when it comes to gleaning through piles upon piles of reading material deserves recognition.

6. You Make Your Own Brand

For obvious reasons, English majors have a wondrous way with words. Customer service? Speeding ticket? Interviews? No problem. Even if you’re a nervous wreck, your self-editing will kick in. The eloquence you refined when writing at least one paper a week shines through. When you’ve read enough Shakespeare, Edgar Allen Poe, Cesar Vallejo and other greats to fill a library, your ability to sell and persuade will be amazing. You can spot a good summary or article blurb in seconds because you’ve read (and written) so many. This skill will never stop making a difference—you gotta sell your product, no matter the business.

7. You Have a Bright Future 

Being the Swiss Army knife of majors can actually come in handy. Marketing & public relations, publishing & editorial, journalism, social media, legal work—the options are endless, and your major actually gives you a huge leg up. If you don’t believe me, let the success of former students be your proof. Former NBC CEO & television producer Grant Tinker, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Award-winning film director Steven Spielberg, Avon CEO Andrea Jung and television host Conan O’Brien once hit the Shakespeare. Maybe some day you’ll join the list.

Torii Johnson: creative writer, graphic designer, aspiring social media mogul, avid feminist, barista extraordinaire.
She is a sophomore at Wesleyan University studying English and Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies.

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