“If you were a freshman again, would you major in English?”
This question has been haunting me for the past 6 months.
When filling out my Senior Exit Survey this was one of the questions I was asked. Along with “What would you change about the English major?” and “How has being an English major affected you?”
Well for one thing, it has almost completely killed reading for enjoyment. For the past three and a half years my life revolved around required reading. I was assigned 1-2 novels a week for one class one semester. And that was just one class. I have been stressed out about reading and writing more in the past three years than ever before. However, I have skated by and not read a surprising amount. That’s not because I don’t want to read the books or the articles, most of the time I did. I just could not keep up with the reading and in order to keep my sanity, I had to prioritize and skip reading more often than I would like to admit.
However, it has also increased my appreciation for the written word. And in turn, increased my abhorrence for Twitter and other sites where we are forcibly cut down to a certain number of characters. It has also improved my writing. It was hard to notice at first but I do genuinely have a better grasp on what makes a good argument, what makes a good writer, and what makes someone a writer. I know more technical aspects of writing that I am hoping will help give me a leg up in the job market.
I became an English major because I believed it would help me in law school, which was of course, the ultimate goal. And then, law school didn’t pan out as I had planned and hoped for. And now I am about to enter the job market and I am realizing, I have an English degree. And I am realizing that English majors lie to each other and to themselves. The English degree is so devalued it makes me sick. My own school newspaper wouldn’t pay new writers for their work. What kind of society are we living in that people don’t get paid for their hard work? I paid over $50,000 for my education and you want to pay me 1 cent per word?! That is why I had to justify being an English major all this time, nobody takes us seriously. My classes were harder than any other liberal arts course I took. But go ahead and hire some random person off the street to try and formulate a strong argument. Let me know how that works out for you.
If someone told me Freshman year, “Your plan for law school isn’t going to work out right away. Do you still want to be an English major?” I don’t know what I would have said. I still genuinely enjoy writing. And I have improved because of my classes. However, had I chosen a different major, I could have been more selective with my writing classes and likely still improved and enjoyed writing. If someone gave me a glimpse of the job market I am about to enter and a list of qualifications needed for specific jobs as well as what I would have upon graduation, I don’t think I could justify being an English major. So it begs the question: Did I just waste an entire four years and thousands of dollars?
I know that I can’t answer this question today. This post is basically a series of questions that has just confused me more. Once again I wrote because I needed to get it out of my head. I wrote in the hopes that putting down the words and sending it into cyber space would help someone, not necessarily even me, feel like they are not alone. I wrote in the hopes that putting down the words would somehow make me feel less confused and less alone.