Studying English takes effort, opens up the mind

April 27, 2015

Samantha Morley
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Writing a 500-word article is so much more relaxing than composing a 12-page paper.

I love being an English major. It’s one of the most eye-opening teaching experiences I have ever endured, and I have a degree in graphic design and work experience in the medical world.

Neither can amount to what being an English major has taught me.

When I first started my degree, I received skepticism from my friends and family about the job market possibilities. Most of them encouraged me to pursue something more technical, like math or science. I went with their advice and tried a few courses in these subjects, but I struggled.

Math and science didn’t resonate with me.

English did.

I’ve been writing creatively since I was a small child, and I can’t count how many books I’ve read. Literature has always been a passion of mine and it remains intact even after going through the intensive process of getting my bachelor’s degree.

In the beginning, I thought I was going to be read interesting books and write profound papers. Of course there were bits of both throughout these last four years, but the classes were more work that I actually expected.

The papers in college are far more challenging than in high school. You can’t get by with basic interpretations of literature. You can’t just expect a teacher to accept any kind of writing. You have to be able to open your mind and see what others cannot.

It’s a challenge, but a very worthwhile one.

Math and science are great at teaching people about the technical side of life. I have no doubt that anyone who can accomplish those degrees is highly intelligent and will surely be successful.

But English opened up my mind in such a way that no other field could. It is incredibly difficult to put words on paper in a way that generations hundreds of years down the road will comprehend, especially with language evolving as it does.

I have learned about poets and authors from all over the world. They have taught me about their way of life as if I were actually there. It is wonderful how someone who has been dead for hundreds of years can help me see, smell, taste and feel their world.

But in order to get to this depth of engagement with the text, you have to work hard and open your mind. You won’t get much out of an English degree if you can’t accept what a book is trying to teach you.

For all the incoming freshmen or transfers, an English major is not something to scoff at. It’s a field that teaches a range of skills that are useful in a wide range of careers. You may not become a teacher, or a literary agent, or a book publisher.

But you will appear more worldly and accepting of others, which is extremely valuable everywhere.

Keep at it and it will be enormously rewarding. Trust me.