Some of you may be in college or about to enter college. To you, I have only one piece of advice. Whatever you do, do not, under any circumstances, elect to be an English major. “Why not?” you may ask. Well the answer is simple, there is literally nothing you can do professionally with it.
I speak from experience. Heading into college, I had aspirations of being a doctor. I intended on majoring in Biomedical Sciences while going through the pre-med advisory system in order to best prepare myself for Medical School. I would then go on to become a radiologist, and ultimately achieve my goal of being rich as hell. I registered for all of the right classes, scheduled everything in the mornings so that I could reserve the afternoons exclusively for studying, packed up my bags and headed out to college. However, about three days into my college experience, I realized that I had to make an important decision that would substantially impact my entire collegiate career, and in turn, the rest of my life. Either I could commit myself fully to the original plan and spend the next ten years of my life studying extensively while sacrificing much of the social side of college, or I could embrace the social scene, abandon the Med School plan, and go out 4-5 nights a week.
I had pretty much made up my mind right then and there, but my decision was finalized a few weeks later when my Chemistry 1 professor called me in for a meeting in which he informed me that because of my poor attendance, several missed quizzes, and the embarrassingly low score that I got on my first exam, he felt that it was in my best interests to drop the class because it was unlikely that I could turn things around enough to get anything higher than a “D” in the class at the end of the semester.
I dropped the class and drifted aimlessly through the next few semesters, taking care of all of the prerequisites in the College of Arts & Sciences curriculum while trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. Eventually my advisor called me in one day and told me that it was time that I make a decision. He asked me what I was good at, and I told him that I enjoyed writing and generally did pretty well on papers. His eyes lit up, and being the English professor that he was, he immediately recommended that I become an English major. Not just an English major though, but a “Writing-Intensive English Major.” The difference is that I would take four more writing classes than normal English majors. It would really set me apart from the other normal English majors. (All 11 of them)
TANGENT: One of those classes was poetry. Twelve of us would get together once a week, share our poems, and have them critiqued by the rest of the class. Everyone would have their turn, and once everyone was finished, the class was over. Needless to say, this was a complete joke. However, one of the most uncomfortable moments of my collegiate career came during that class. We were going around the circle, and the goth girl next to me began to read her poem. Now, I should probably mention that about ¾ of this class didn’t take it seriously at all. We threw together poems about Brett Favre (these were the pre-dong days), undersized desks, computer screens and anything else we happened to be mindlessly staring at within fifteen minutes of class starting. However, the other quarter of the students, well, those guys were into it. They took that shit seriously.
The goth girl in front of me began to read her poem about how much she would welcome the relief of suicide because her boyfriend had recently broke up with her, broke down midway through it, started sobbing, and ran out of the classroom without finishing her poem, leaving all of her stuff behind. The classroom was dead silent, and eventually the teacher asked me to share my poem while we waited for the goth girl to return. My poem was a 10-liner about the Green Bay Packers. The goth girl returned while the class was critiquing my poem. It was rather uncomfortable.
Anyway, I decided to become a Writing major (technically it was Writing-Intensive English, but “Writing” sounds better) because it seemed really easy, it allowed me to aggressively pursue the social component of the college experience, and I figured that I would be able to wing my way to a degree relatively easily. That all ended up being true. I didn’t read much at all in college – one semester, I counted over 10,000 pages of assigned reading that I didn’t do – but it really didn’t matter because as long as you could write relatively well, it was a breeze. Sure, I may have ended up taking a bunch of classes that surrounded me with pretentious assholes who always claimed that they found a deeper meaning behind everything they read, but I was willing to put up with them in order to avoid working too hard while in college.
Unfortunately, midway through my junior year, I began to realize that securing an internship was going to be substantially more difficult than I had imagined, which led me to believe that finding a job post graduation would be just as difficult, if not harder. You see, everything that you can “do” with an English major can be done better with a different major. Want to become a reporter? Get a Journalism degree. Want to be a teacher? Go into education. Looking for a way into business-to-business sales? Get a general business degree. Want to be a bum who claims to have a “well-rounded” education? Major in Communications. Want to be a 22-year-old author? You’re an idiot. Want to bide time until you apply for Law School? Well, I guess it does work pretty well for that too.
I decided to pick up a Marketing minor after my first round of internship interviews, because I realized that I needed some type of formal business education on my resume in order to be taken seriously in any potential job interviews. Looking back on it, I probably shouldn’t have touted my decision-making skills as an asset on the same sheet of paper that informed potential employers of my decision to major in English. Eventually, I got a job, but I made the entire process much more difficult than it had to be, all because I didn’t feel like putting too much meaningful thought into one of the biggest decisions of my life up until that point.
Now, I know this is all my own fault, but I encourage any college advisor who recommends that one of their advisees becomes an English major to promptly get fucked. In fact, the entire collegiate advising system can go straight to hell. Anybody who advises a clueless 19 year old to “just do what makes you happy, and do what you love” while making one of the most important decisions of their lives should be removed of that position immediately. A dose of reality was exactly what I needed, but instead I was fed a line of bullshit touting the versatility that I would have upon entering the workforce. The advising system has one job, help me get a job. Unfortunately, when your advisors are intimately involved with a field of study that nobody chooses (for good reason) anymore, your best interests take a back seat to their self-preservation. Too many of these fuckers have watched Good Will Hunting and decided that they’re going to go out there and change the world, one misguided student at a time.
I know that I am not the only person who has picked a horrible major, and that majoring in English is just one of many different ways that you can piss away your college tuition, but it’s still a horrible decision that should never be made. For those of you who have yet to choose your path, here is a rule to follow: if you don’t have a concise plan of what you are going to do with your major, you should strongly reconsider whether or not it’s the right decision. Sure it may make your life substantially easier over the next few years, but college isn’t supposed to be easy. If you think to yourself, “Hey, this was just one instance, surely it can’t be that bad. I’m going to major in English anyway.” You are an idiot, and deserve what’s coming to you – namely, condescending laughter from friends and family as well as a prolonged period of unemployment after you graduate. You’ve been warned.