Things You Shouldn’t Say To An English Major

Cool! So you want to teach?

There’s no point counting how many times English majors get asked this question. People don’t willingly study English unless they want to teach anyway, right? The moment you tell them that, no, teaching really isn’t your end goal, their face falls and you can see the confusion behind their eyes. She said she’s an English major? But she doesn’t want to teach? Is that even a thing? She’s going to be sorry she ever wasted all that money. It gets to the point where it’s easier to just lie rather than tell the truth.

While a lot of English majors do go on to teach and are amazingly good at it, it’s irritating when people just assume that’s the only thing we’ll be good at.

Aren’t those Liberal Arts degrees a dead end?

Just because I didn’t find passion in business or engineering doesn’t mean I don’t have a future. You go do your boring equations and I’ll go back to my Edgar Allan Poe, thank you every much.

Will you read my paper?

Unless you’re a close friend or a blood relative, you have no claim on my edits. Editing takes time on my part, so you can’t spring it on me hours before the deadline. I’m not dropping my life to bring your C- up to only a B+ because you procrastinated.

People really major in that? But English is just so easy!

You go ahead and write three 15-20 page research papers on Shakespeare, Austen, and Milton – all due on the same day – with six credible outside references (no, Wikipedia never counts) and flawless MLA citation. Can you accurately describe and formulate a thesis statement? Can you write a detailed, five paragraph response to Flannery O’Conner’s A Good Man Is Hard to Find within the next hour? Also, your original (and fully edited) 4000 word manuscript is due at the end of the week. Are you ready to have everyone tear it to absolute shreds at the critique table?

English is many things, but it is so not easy. It’s like saying that studying music is a cop out, but that’s a whole other rant.

But I thought everyone can speak English . . .

An English degree isn’t in the language (I’ve actually had to tell people this) . . . and no, not everyone can speak English (I’ve also actually had to tell people this).

How do you expect to make a living if you don’t teach?

I can bet you that teachers don’t choose their profession solely for the surplus income benefits. So, maybe I’ll sell my plasma because there are no other jobs out there I can’t get with an English degree. None. Absolutely zip.

Any other English majors out there? What’s something someone has told you that just made your blood boil . . . or made you want to smack yourself in the face . . . or perhaps a little bit of both?

6 thoughts on “Things You Shouldn’t Say To An English Major

  1. I majored in English, and you can’t believe just how many times I’ve gotten those questions from peers and family, to the point that they make my blood boil every time I think about them! Seriously, I once had a (now former) friend say to me, “no offense, but I think the English major is absolutely useless.” Besides making me really angry and frustrated at my inability to spit a good comeback, it really got me thinking just how much society really celebrates those who choose the science route. That is, if you’re doing sciences because you’re passionate in it, that’s completely fine– it’s those who choose the sciences as means of becoming a doctor/pharmacist/PT for monetary reasons that doesn’t sit well with me, especially if they hate the profession to begin with. I guess that’s why English (and the humanities, in general) are looked down upon, just because they aren’t “financially lucrative,” according to some. Either way, humanities or sciences, we all struggle to find a job/make a living after graduation, so we’re in the same boat! /end rant

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rant away!! Ugh, I hate that. “No offense,” but I take offense. Like really?! I think the outlook on the humanities route is somewhat changing – or I’m just hoping/coming to terms with it. 😂 And yes, we do all end up in the same boat. But I loved what I studied, so I don’t care if you think I’m wasting my life, because I didn’t ask you. /end rant haha.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As a former drama major, I can attest that art majors get the same exact kind of flack, plus an awful lot of derision for choosing “easy” classes…. Yes, I did take a class that consisted at least partially in fingerpainting our feelings — literally — but gosh darn it if that wasn’t one of the most challenging, eye-opening, and valuable classes of my entire undergraduate career!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah, your text truly rang a bell to me because I can also receive many, many and many comments I would personally describe as “ungraceful” over the last years about my school choices. Ok, at first, I didn’t start studying English at university and Bachelor’s degree took longer than usual because I suffered from a depression during the two first – regular – years of my degree. (I am from Quebec, Canada; and most bachelor’s degrees here usually lasts for 3 years.)

    Still, I completed my Bachelor’s degree in English and intercultural studies, and I am also pretty fond of languages. I am also aware – and I also lament – the war between the so-called soft sciences (i.e. anthropology, sociology, English, etc.) and the “true” ones (i.e. chemistry. biology, engineering, medicine, etc.). One of my friends is completing a Ph.D. in psychology and I loved the way she responded to one of her clients – she works at the psychology clinic of her university. He said to her during their interview that he didn’t understand why he was in her office as he perceived psychology like a soft science, and she asked him why he asked for services if he truly considered psychology soft.

    Whenever I say that I like languages, the first thing that comes to mind for many people, including my father, is that I necessarily aim to become a translator, as though the only valuable (especially profession associated with language(s) is translating. It has started to make me upset, quite frankly.

    Then, I agree with the person who said that it is nice if someone chooses to study sciences if he or she likes it, and it is pretty pathetic if someone studies any science subject just to make cash. Next, I personally have a pretty impressive learning diabilities when learning mathematics. I have maths so much – I even said to someone that I would gladly go back in time to prevent Pythagores from inventing his damn theory if I could. The fact the matter is, not everyone has the skills to study sciences or study social sciences. And people should truly learn to accept and understand the skills and limits of their classmates, friends and relatives.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s