“Oh, you’re an English major? What do you plan to do with that?” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked this question. No, it’s not a major that doesn’t get you anywhere after graduation. I plan to do a lot actually, thanks for asking. The English major equips you with amazing tools to help you succeed in any aspect of both the professional and social world.
If you don’t believe me, keep reading for 10 skills English majors learn from their “useless” major.
1. Analytical skills
English majors develop the ability to analyze any text from novels and medical journals to magazine articles. Boston College English sophomore Jacqueline Vail said “I love being an English major because it allows for an exploration of my analysis skills and own personal values.” These skills come in handy no matter what subject you might study or what you might do in your career. Journalists need to analyze their facts when writing their pieces. Politicians need to understand laws and bills when trying to present new ones. Mechanical engineers need to read their complicated design steps and translate them to building something. The applications are truly endless.
Creativity reigns free in the English major—which is certainly not true for people studying other subjects. Professors encourage you think outside the box to develop new and creative arguments and viewpoints. This makes for interesting, unique and impressive points of discussion and works of writing. Creativity is beneficial in any field, even if that field seems non-creative. Even a stockbroker who analyzes the numbers and the graphs needs a creative side when pitching their clients.
3. Critical Thinking
English majors evaluate texts based on several factors like their historical period, audience, genre, author background and more. The ability to analyze something critically while also considering several other factors lets you take a well-rounded approach to any situation. You locked yourself out of your car? No big deal, your critical thinking skills will help you evaluate the problem and give you tons of different possible courses of action. Critical thinking lets. you create strong and unique claims and support them with evidence. What do a marketing team and a doctor have in common? Critical thinking. A marketing team needs to figure out how to best target teens for their new skincare product. A doctor reads a patient’s chart and comes up with a unique plan to treat them.
Get comfortable with crafting arguments and defending them with confidence. Debates become easy as pie after a run as an English major. It starts with raising your hand in English class and saying your opinion about a character or novel that might seem controversial. Next thing you know you’re in a boardroom meeting with your CEO and your presenting your budget proposal with confidence and ease.
5. Understanding Dense Literature
English majors constantly read dense literature that takes work to understand. Reading confusing things gets less confusing with practice. You get some really good skills out of it too, like efficient skimming, making the dictionary your new best friend and re-reading. Imagine you are a lawyer trying to put your case together; you have to read through a ton of past precedents and documents. English majors can do that in their sleep. Well, not really but you get the picture.
Editing becomes muscle memory with practice. You catch your own mistakes quickly and step outside of your piece to find ways to make it better. You can also edit the work of others with zero judgement and make sure that their work looks great, too. If you don’t know how to edit yourself, you could end up reading contracts wrong or even send out an email full of bad grammar and misspelled words to your boss. Yikes.
7. Taking Criticism
No one likes criticism, but everyone gets it and needs to learn how to digest it. With papers getting torn apart by professors, eventually you learn to separate yourself from your work. You become your biggest critic, learning how to motivate yourself instead of tear yourself down. Imagine you’re a journalist for a major magazine—if your editor sends you back an article and tells you it’s trash, you take it with a smile and promise something better next time.
English majors have a way with words. They can show off a vast vocabulary, drop a literary allusion in any conversation, relate to others, story tell and more. If that doesn’t sound like what you need to nail an interview, then you’re not interviewing right.
Knowing about the ins and outs of grammar objectively benefits any area of life. By writing and proofreading accurately, it makes you write in a more informed and experienced fashion. When an architect designs and write out steps and contracts for a big design—they better write it and proofread it well or they’ll end up with a scary looking building.
10. Bullsh–ting on the Spot
Confidence is key in a debate, even if you know your argument has major issues. Trying to convince someone that the sky isn’t blue? Easy. Trying to cover up where you really were last night? Easy. With all of the critical thinking, analytic and creative skills, coming up with things to talk about on the spot feels like just another conversation. One time I went to class without doing the reading (I was tired, okay?). I totally convinced everyone I’d read it when the professor called on me. Knowing just the title, I made up some abstract argument and it worked. Thank you to my English major.