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What is English Really?

By Laurie W

In theory what is it?

There are many tracks to pursue within an English degree. For example, the track I'm following is "theory and criticism"; other tracks are "African folklore", "Writing children's fiction", "modern poetry", "technical writing", etc. These are all grouped within an English degree for they all emphasize two basic skills- reading and writing. This seems obvious, but there are many different styles of both reading and writing- analytical, creative, persuasive, seductive, etc. The theory is that of expression, articulation and clarity.

What is it used for?

By following a certain track, certain skills will be learned and will lead into a particular proffession. For instance, being on the theory and criticism track can lead into business, politics or law. Following a technical writing track can be combined with whatever other background, for example engineering, to lead into a career writing the technical aspects of engineering (such as writing brochures for people to use tools, etc.). The writing for advertising and marketing tracks can lead into just that; or really, whatever fields of business that interest you. Also, there is a film analysis track, which can lead to the creative entertainment industry. The main idea is that the skills you learn from the degree (articulation, clarity, analytical thinking) will lead to a career in any field that requires reading and writing.

What does the major actually entail - work-wise?

There are some classes that are extensive in the reading aspect, such as my current ENG 3010 - Theory and Practice of Modern of Criticism course. The final grade of the course is dependent on 2 papers. But, each class is a class discussion (not so much lecture) of readings. These readings comprise complex and unfamiliar rhetoric. However, I have a friend taking a course entitled "Writing for Adolescents", and it is the easiest sounding class ever. They read books (one a week) that 13 year old's read (examples- Nancy Drew, Boxcar Children, Sweet Valley High) and learn to write for that target audience. Sorry, but I have no experience in any of the poetry departments. Regarding the film department, my friend said it is not too difficult, but going to all classes is a must, as all material is based on class discussion. This type of writing requires analysis and critical thinking, and is usually less creative than say 20th Century Brithish Literature. Finally, there are lots of, for lack of a better word, "modern" type of courses, basing the reading material with emphasis on a particular topic. Examples are gender studies, queer theory, feminism, minority writing, Jews, the Victorian era, literature in the Bible. Finally, there are a number of interesting electives I want to look into, such as speechwriting.

What kind of jobs do you get with it?

(see two questions up).

What are the fellow students like (personalitywise) in it?

The stereotype is that of a bookworm, or perhaps just someone a little "out there". By taking certain classes, especially in the upper levels, there will be people that fit into these stereotypes. But for the most part, it is a general mix of people that are interested in learning, and in the liberal arts.

Common Misconceptions

The common misconception is that an English degree leads into the teaching profession. It is true that this can happen; however, the possibilities are endless (see two questions above).

Another misconception is that English majors love to read. While this quality helps, it isn't necessary for enjoyment in the program. The most important factor for success in the courses is liking the teacher, for then you will want to go to class. The class discussions (more common than lectures) should be something you look forward to. Enjoyment can be found in hearing and learning of others' perception of a text and expressing your own.

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English Major unemployment rate

_EnglishAll Majors
Unemployed%5%7
Minimum Wage%4%4
All Others%91%88
More: Unemployment for all Majors *** not counting stay at home parents *** not counting those currently in grad school

Are things going well in English?

Going Well%87
Not Going Well%13
More: All Majors Satisfaction ??? This is a social "life satisfaction" question. Overall, would people who graduated with a degree in English say that their life is going well? It could be interpreted in terms of stress, salary, long hours, future prospects, etc. *** not counting those currently in grad school

Graduates who stayed in English

Still in Field%56
Got out%44
More: All Majors Still in field ??? A high "got out" percentage can be interpreted a couple of ways -- for instance, perhaps the major is a great stepping stone to becoming a totally different career -- like a doctor. Or perhaps the jobs one gets with the major just aren't that great. *** not counting those currently in grad school
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CMU instilled a great work ethic.CMU instilled a great work ethic. I had to work hard to get good grades there, and once I got into the real world, that "get it done" kind of work ethic helped a lot.Read reviewEnglishCarnegie Mellon University Reviews
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The faculty members are fantastic at Marian.The faculty members are fantastic at Marian. I paticularly recommend the English professors, but I took interesting, challenging, knowledge-building, and character-building classes across the disciplines. I graduated withRead reviewEnglishMarian University Reviews
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I ended up in an entirely different fieldI ended up in an entirely different field, as can often happen to students of English Literature. Although no employer has ever asked me about the classes I took or my grades, I know thatRead reviewEnglishThe University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Reviews
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