Lately, I’ve been getting more questions about my future, and what I want to do with my major. Being a senior can do that to you. But, more often than not, people have said “oh, so you’re going to teach?” Allow me a moment to yell in rage and bend a large amount of earth and a plume of fire.
It really irks me when people say that. Whenever I ask someone their major, and hear their response, I’m all “oh cool, that’s awesome.” Did you hear any assumptions made regarding the stereotype of a certain major? No? Well good, neither did I. It’s because I don’t like jumping to conclusions when it might be false. Now some people are merely doing this because they have fallen victim to the cultural norms of our society (in the economy it’s in). I don’t blame them. They’re in a state of blissful ignorance to the real possibilities of not only education but also their civilization. Anywho, no Muggle, I’m not going to teach because there’s much more you can do with an English major. Certainly more than one expects. I will say that those who do choose to teach deserve much more respect than the country gives them. They are the sustainers of our civilization and encourage the next generation of: teachers, sports players, mechanist, welders, plumbers, doctors, writers, poets, mathematicians, physicists, presidents, dentists, journalists, historians, and every other damn thing you could think of.
I’d like to point out that most of the people who assumed teaching were over 15 years old, and those who assumed anything else, like writing (gasp, writing as a career?!), were under the age of 15. Just a small commentary on our conceptions and what happens when people age.
I think one of the scariest things about being an English major in the 21st century is just how much there is we can do with it. You heard right. English major = too flexible. But wait, says Muggle, how can it be flexible at all when all you do is read dead people’s books and talk about them? You’re not going to school to get a real job.
That’s okay, though. Go on and think that a degree in English is not anything worthwhile or guaranteed to gain a stable vocation (outside the ‘obvious’ path of teaching that is). I’ll just sit here all quiet and sustain our civilization’s intellectual integrity and legacy while you are stuck in a cubicle or the like at a job you hate and are only doing for the money…
(Now, I’m not hating on jobs, or the people, that fit the description above, but I’m just trying to make a point. Everyone has different priorities. Mine, and majors like me, want to mark the world with our writing and try to shape injustices, entertain, and educate. Others wish to settle and raise a family, the next generation. There’s nothing wrong with that. Honestly. I’m happy there’s a variety of interests and ambitions.)
In actuality, the English major receivee is presented with a silver platter of options with which to pursue after graduation. In a meeting my department had last week, our chair introduced to us the surprising facts about English majors’ post undergraduate. He showed us statistics of us in the top tiers of applicants and attendants of Law School, above pre-law, and Medical School, above Bio, Chemistry, and pre-Med majors. Why have we reached the heights of higher education where it is not thought that majoring in English would be a benefit? It is our skills of language, communication, speaking, of conveying our thoughts into organized rivers of persuasion and confidence. It is our ability, which we started long before Uni, to read and interpret complex, or not, texts and give meaning to aspects of story and essay that a non-English major might not think plausible. Our department chair showed us a chart of what managers and employers ranked most high on their priorities when seeking potential employees: it was speaking, the ability to put across what’s in our mind into words on paper that are delivered to a readership for profit or compromise. I think we’ve been doing that very thing in every essay we pile together the night before it’s due (we’re human, no one’s perfect).
Needless to say, there’s lots to be proud of being an English major. So wear your liberal arts degree proud, and tell people “hi, I’m an English major.”