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View Full Version : Is an English Major Pointless?


debopero
Jan 12th, 2012, 01:04 AM
Okay, so I am kind of in a mini crisis...

Well not really, but I have been pondering over the matter of what I am going to do with my English degree when I graduate. Right now, the plan is to go into teaching but to be honest, I feel like I am only going into that career because I feel like there are no other options :lol:. I am interested in education and I like the prospect of being able to discuss literature but...could I handle that for the rest of my life? Teachers, unfortunately, often do a lot more disciplining than teaching (at least in the classes I have observed in) and I just feel like if I knew what else was out there, I would combine my major with something else and that would be that.

Has anybody here majored in English? What jobs do you currently have? Or, if you are currently majoring in English or Literature etc., what do you plan to do?

P.S.-Yes, I have Googled this topic; I did not find the results satisfactory.

Moveyourfeet
Jan 12th, 2012, 01:13 AM
If you are not a trust fund child, yes.

debopero
Jan 12th, 2012, 01:14 AM
If you are not a trust fund child, yes.

Well that's reassuring...oh wait I'm poor no it's not.

cowsonice
Jan 12th, 2012, 01:22 AM
If you're lucky (and I mean really lucky unless you have connections) and a good teacher to being with), teaching in a high-income area is a lot more teaching and a lot less disciplining.

Most English majors end up in grad school. Some just continue and become professors.

Other jobs you can explore are in the PR and communications field.

Helen Lawson
Jan 12th, 2012, 01:27 AM
It depends what your other major options are. Certainly an engineering or accounting degree is more marketable, but if that's not offered or you can't handle those classes, then stick with what you enjoy. College is one of the few times you can do that. The reading, writing, and analytical skills you are learning will serve you well later in life, even you don't use the major itself. If you teach at a private school, there may be less discipline duties. The reality is, most basic 4-year degrees are not going to get you a decent job anyway, you have to do graduate work.

You can always teach for a few years, if you hate it, you can go to graduate school or look into something else.

ToopsTame
Jan 12th, 2012, 01:43 AM
It's still easier to explain to prospective employers than an arts or humanities degree, if you're worried about that sort of thing. You could apply for many bank/office type jobs with an English degree and see if that is for you. People also assume you have very good communication skills by seeing this degree.

Vartan
Jan 12th, 2012, 01:47 AM
You could go into Communications, other than that it's pretty useless.

miffedmax
Jan 12th, 2012, 02:29 AM
Advertising, PR, corporate communications, editing, journalism, publishing, high tech companies look for technical writers all hire English majors.

I was a history major with an English minor and I've worked in advertising for a looooong time. Again, you may not start off as the kind of job you want (you might have to work in something like proofing or even as a receptionist) but if you're smart and work hard you can move up into either a position as a copywriter or account exec and get on track for a good, if somewhat wacky and unstable, career.

If you try any of those or teaching and don't like them, if you have some work experience you are well-positioned to go back to school for a law degree or an MBA.

Sally Struthers
Jan 12th, 2012, 02:37 AM
Yes. Majoring in the humanities is like majoring in poverty unless you want to teach. Pick something with more practical applications like business, computers, etc ... or the sciences, but only if you want to get a PhD or go to med school.

shap_half
Jan 12th, 2012, 05:50 AM
I was an English major. Is it pointless because it doesn't prepare you with a specific skill that's tied to a specific job? Sure. And a lot of people who get an English degree are people who love to read and talk about literature and the only job that will pay you to do that is to teach so most people assume that that's all you can do with that degree. But in all honesty, unless you want to do something where you need specific, technical skills, it doesn't matter what your major is to do anything in this world. And there's a lot you can totally do out there that doesn't require a practical course of study: barmaid, waiter, prostitute -- all I've which I've considered while I wax my diploma.

ranfurly
Jan 12th, 2012, 07:54 AM
Yes. Majoring in the humanities is like majoring in poverty unless you want to teach. Pick something with more practical applications like business, computers, etc ... or the sciences, but only if you want to get a PhD or go to med school.

It's true though,

I dabbled in a bit of english at University.

To be honest, Job prospects looked alot less appealing, humanities students were the butt of all jokes in regards to getting a "proper" career, heckled about librarians, bankers, clerks.

It turned me off from majoring in English, so I switched it to a double major with a commerce degree, which complemented it nicely.

Alot of older students studied it, Mothers, middle aged woman, I guess to obtain that degree that they never got, Alot of retired people, because they see it is an Interest to them. People studying it for interest.

Infact, the people I knew who were studying it were because they enjoyed the subject, much rather than locating a career with it. they were studying it for interest.

Unfortunately when money's a little tight, and the student loan gets bigger and bigger, studying something just for shits and giggles isn't going to cut the mustard in the job hunt, especially if you know what you may want to do.

Unless you specifically want to go teaching english, doing journalism or something in that realm, it might be a good idea.

Anyway you can double major in it?

My advice is perhaps go speak to a careers advisor, or someone in the english department to voice your concerns, take a deep look at your prospectus and see what else is of interest, see if you are able to double major/ or have it as a minor, that way atleast you retain an interest in it, and it supplements your other degree.

Easier said than done, by saying this on the net, but I've casted a few lines out for you, so hopefully it helps.

MG1
Jan 12th, 2012, 08:33 AM
I was originally going to major in English because I was interested in it, but after looking up how little I would be able to do with it job-wise other than teaching, I switched. My friend recently graduated with an English Lit degree and she's having trouble finding jobs.
I'm majoring in accounting now, but still minoring in English. Like others have suggested, I would look into double majoring or just having it as a minor.

debopero
Jan 12th, 2012, 10:34 AM
Thanks for all you responses! I think combining my major with something else seems to be the best way to go. I have too many credits at this point to just drop the major completely and quote on quote "start fresh" with something new entirely. I think the problem is that I SUCK at math/hard science and, quite frankly have no interest in either fields. As such, I don't see the point in say, majoring in say economics if I am just going to struggle and receive a shitty GPA :shrug: .

But seriously thanks for the responses; they have given me food for thought!

debopero
Jan 12th, 2012, 10:35 AM
Yes. Majoring in the humanities is like majoring in poverty unless you want to teach. Pick something with more practical applications like business, computers, etc ... or the sciences, but only if you want to get a PhD or go to med school.

All of these sound like hell to me :o.

McPie
Jan 12th, 2012, 11:26 AM
if you're not in US, UK, IRL, NZ, AUS, no ;)

Sally Struthers
Jan 12th, 2012, 01:06 PM
All of these sound like hell to me :o.

Well what about communications? You can go into PR or marketing. I would stay out of journalism unless you're going into internet or broadcast because print is dying. My brother works at the largest newspaper in the state and they have laid off 350 out of their 400 reporters that they had in 2007 as well as other staff like advertising.

Sally Struthers
Jan 12th, 2012, 01:09 PM
I have two many credits at this point to just drop the major completely and quote on quote "start fresh" with something new entirely.

English major :o :oh:

Ellery
Jan 12th, 2012, 01:12 PM
Are you interested in education and policy? You can get a Masters in Education then :)

debopero
Jan 12th, 2012, 01:39 PM
English major :o :oh:

Hush :p .

debopero
Jan 12th, 2012, 01:40 PM
Well what about communications? You can go into PR or marketing. I would stay out of journalism unless you're going into internet or broadcast because print is dying. My brother works at the largest newspaper in the state and they have laid off 350 out of their 400 reporters that they had in 2007 as well as other staff like advertising.

Both PR and marketing sound interesting but how stable are those careers generally?

Hurley
Jan 12th, 2012, 03:14 PM
Eventually every English grad sells out and becomes a professor or goes to law school. The end.

pov
Jan 12th, 2012, 03:20 PM
:lol: When I saw the title my thought was "??? there's already Wimbledon."

debopero
Jan 12th, 2012, 05:36 PM
Eventually every English grad sells out and becomes a professor or goes to law school. The end.

How is becoming a professor selling out :o ?

debopero
Jan 12th, 2012, 05:37 PM
Are you interested in education and policy? You can get a Masters in Education then :)

That's probably what will happen.

miffedmax
Jan 12th, 2012, 08:05 PM
Both PR and marketing sound interesting but how stable are those careers generally?

Not, but they're hella fun.

fifty-fifty
Jan 12th, 2012, 08:25 PM
yes

edificio
Jan 12th, 2012, 08:59 PM
No, it is not pointless, unless you want to do technical work, in which case, get the proper training.

Helen Lawson
Jan 12th, 2012, 11:17 PM
There was some lady who used to post here who was a madam, she might have some advice.

ToopsTame
Jan 12th, 2012, 11:27 PM
You can't have a stable career and a fun job and a high income. Pick the one that means the most to you, adjust your degree accordingly and count yourself lucky if it ends up working out. Many people don't get any of those things.

moby
Jan 12th, 2012, 11:37 PM
Majoring in English is pointless unless you go on to grad school, in which case you waste 10 years of your life doing comp lit or something, adding no value to your qualifications, and probably not even getting an academic job since it's so competitive out there. In other words, there are worse things than just having a pointless major.

Vartan
Jan 12th, 2012, 11:42 PM
Psychology major is in the same boat.

ampers&
Jan 13th, 2012, 12:00 AM
I'm an English major and never had any issues finding well paying jobs that I love. Everything from print journalism to now being a regional program manager for a national non-profit org. It depends on your motivation, tbh.

Also, I wish more people in America majored in something they loved as opposed to getting a degree in a field just because it's supposed to make more money. No wonder why so many Americans hate their jobs. :crying2:

cowsonice
Jan 13th, 2012, 12:21 AM
^Corporate America sucks you dry.

miffedmax
Jan 13th, 2012, 12:48 AM
I'm an English major and never had any issues finding well paying jobs that I love. Everything from print journalism to now being a regional program manager for a national non-profit org. It depends on your motivation, tbh.

Also, I wish more people in America majored in something they loved as opposed to getting a degree in a field just because it's supposed to make more money. No wonder why so many Americans hate their jobs. :crying2:

Sometimes it takes a little longer to land that first "serious" job with a liberal arts degree, but once you've had a real gig in the real world nobody gives a crap what your degree is in, or what your GPA was.

ampers&
Jan 13th, 2012, 01:05 AM
Sometimes it takes a little longer to land that first "serious" job with a liberal arts degree, but once you've had a real gig in the real world nobody gives a crap what your degree is in, or what your GPA was.Agreed. Though I've been pretty lucky on the job front. In a lot of ways, it's more about who you know than what you know anyways.

SN: When did you become a moderator? :sobbing:

debopero
Jan 13th, 2012, 01:42 AM
I'm an English major and never had any issues finding well paying jobs that I love. Everything from print journalism to now being a regional program manager for a national non-profit org. It depends on your motivation, tbh.

Also, I wish more people in America majored in something they loved as opposed to getting a degree in a field just because it's supposed to make more money. No wonder why so many Americans hate their jobs. :crying2:

Well this seems more hopeful than some of the other posts :) .

le bon vivant
Jan 13th, 2012, 02:27 AM
It depends what your other major options are. Certainly an engineering or accounting degree is more marketable, but if that's not offered or you can't handle those classes, then stick with what you enjoy. College is one of the few times you can do that. The reading, writing, and analytical skills you are learning will serve you well later in life, even you don't use the major itself. If you teach at a private school, there may be less discipline duties. The reality is, most basic 4-year degrees are not going to get you a decent job anyway, you have to do graduate work.

You can always teach for a few years, if you hate it, you can go to graduate school or look into something else.This is the truth. Any bachelor's degree you get in a non-STEM field (and increasingly, even the STEMs) is only gonna prepare you for entry-level work, probably in a field unrelated to your discipline of study. :lol: What you took from university is not some advanced degree of knowledge about English literature (thats what you would get a graduate degree for). You learned the ability to write well, concisely synthesize a large volume of information, effectively communicate ideas, and to think critically. Those skills are extremely important for any career field. Those abilities will be your selling point in getting any job.

Hurley
Jan 13th, 2012, 03:54 AM
How is becoming a professor selling out :o ?

Because nobody wants to be a professor.

Szavay #1
Jan 13th, 2012, 06:07 PM
Okay, so I am kind of in a mini crisis...

Well not really, but I have been pondering over the matter of what I am going to do with my English degree when I graduate. Right now, the plan is to go into teaching but to be honest, I feel like I am only going into that career because I feel like there are no other options :lol:. I am interested in education and I like the prospect of being able to discuss literature but...could I handle that for the rest of my life? Teachers, unfortunately, often do a lot more disciplining than teaching (at least in the classes I have observed in) and I just feel like if I knew what else was out there, I would combine my major with something else and that would be that.

Has anybody here majored in English? What jobs do you currently have? Or, if you are currently majoring in English or Literature etc., what do you plan to do?

P.S.-Yes, I have Googled this topic; I did not find the results satisfactory.

i don't think it's pointless and just cause you start out as a teacher doesn't mean you have to stay one. if the education field is your passion then yeah you should stick with it. of course you'll have to go to grad school but i could totally see a fulfilling career being an english major. i'm sure you know there are other avenues you can take with your degree. :)

Sean.
Jan 13th, 2012, 11:25 PM
The subject you major in doesn't have to relate to the one you eventually work in, employers will appreciate that any subject will be hard work. As long as you graduate with a good degree and work experience then you don't have to worry that your major doesn't push you down a specific path.

Hurley
Jan 13th, 2012, 11:56 PM
It is very true what a lot of you are saying - any bachelor's degree will be sufficient to open windows to an innumerable array of crappy interchangeable entry-level jobs. :)

But I think it's more to the point of the initial post that it is much harder for an English degree to funnel one into an obvious career with many job prospects - but that's just an issue one will have with any of the humanities.

ranfurly
Jan 14th, 2012, 01:04 AM
It is very true what a lot of you are saying - any bachelor's degree will be sufficient to open windows to an innumerable array of crappy interchangeable entry-level jobs. :)

But I think it's more to the point of the initial post that it is much harder for an English degree to funnel one into an obvious career with many job prospects - but that's just an issue one will have with any of the humanities.

Agreed,

There are many subjects you study at University which have an ambiguity in the career market.

Many are liberal arts/humanity subjects.

Then there are degrees which have a marginal scope and generally take you directly to a specified job, such as accounting, medicine, dent.

as1991
Jan 14th, 2012, 04:15 AM
write a novel? ;)

debopero
Jan 14th, 2012, 06:13 AM
write a novel? ;)

I wish :o .

Ellen Dawson
Jan 14th, 2012, 06:12 PM
Okay, so I am kind of in a mini crisis...

Well not really, but I have been pondering over the matter of what I am going to do with my English degree when I graduate. Right now, the plan is to go into teaching but to be honest, I feel like I am only going into that career because I feel like there are no other options :lol:. I am interested in education and I like the prospect of being able to discuss literature but...could I handle that for the rest of my life? Teachers, unfortunately, often do a lot more disciplining than teaching (at least in the classes I have observed in) and I just feel like if I knew what else was out there, I would combine my major with something else and that would be that.

Has anybody here majored in English? What jobs do you currently have? Or, if you are currently majoring in English or Literature etc., what do you plan to do?

P.S.-Yes, I have Googled this topic; I did not find the results satisfactory.

Thanks for all you responses! I think combining my major with something else seems to be the best way to go. I have too many credits at this point to just drop the major completely and quote on quote "start fresh" with something new entirely. I think the problem is that I SUCK at math/hard science and, quite frankly have no interest in either fields. As such, I don't see the point in say, majoring in say economics if I am just going to struggle and receive a shitty GPA :shrug: .

But seriously thanks for the responses; they have given me food for thought!

Pointless? Yeah tbh and I say that as someone with my own pointless degree (Psych) and MA (Criminology). Just gotta share - 7 yrs of studies (and a ginormous student loan debt) and my first job out of grad school? Entry level AA position at a fancy bank. :facepalm:

Anywho, what you need to do is figure out your priorities - satisfying career, good salary or both. I've been out of school for 10 yrs and back then a Library Science Master's was all the rage. Is it still? It's an option. Others include (like somebody posted) technical writing, PR, marketing, even legal research. They pay well but of course you have to pay your dues (and network, of course, while you're doing so). Good luck! :)

antonella
Jan 14th, 2012, 06:42 PM
You'd have a better chance of landing a job/career if you majored in Mandarin, Japanese or Farsi instead.

debopero
Jan 14th, 2012, 09:50 PM
You'd have a better chance of landing a job/career if you majored in Mandarin, Japanese or Farsi instead.

I am not looking for a job in translation.

dybbuk
Jan 14th, 2012, 09:54 PM
I am not looking for a job in translation.

Those open up a lot of jobs though. I know many many people who majored in Japanese or Chinese (usually with a joint degree with something "hard," like a science) who have really nice paying jobs with Japanese car companies and the like. It's not just translation.