Life of an English Major

Taryn Van Guilder.

English majors are much different than other majors. We, as English majors, have a large workload that requires brainpower, focus, and patience. Being an English major can be demanding, but we love it.

We became an English major because we love to read and write. We grew up with the passion for reading – there was always something so enticing about storytelling – and we love language itself. The way one can convey a story and project images into the minds of readers solely through words on a page is fascinating. This is what sparked our interest in English.

As is probably obvious, English majors have to take a lot of English courses – a lot of literature and survey courses. These courses touch upon different cultures, not just our own, and allow us to delve into the lives of those around the world. Writing opens many doors and exposes a lot about a culture – sometimes without even trying – but that’s what makes writing and English so special to us.

In terms of the workload for these courses, it is a large amount of reading – I mean large – ranging from 70-100 pages on some nights, depending on how many English courses you’re taking that semester. Typically, all of us students do the readings and then come to class the next day to discuss it. We rely on our fellow classmates to do their homework so we can have a healthy discussion.

There’s also plenty of writing and speaking. In most English classes, we have to write at least two papers – one shorter one and one longer one. We have to maintain proper MLA formatting with minimal grammatical errors in those essays, as well. Some may also include one or two oral presentations and focus on topics related to the class.

As English majors, we have to learn how to pace ourselves with our reading and writing. Trying to do all of it in one sitting can be overwhelming and result in a burn out, so we pace ourselves by doing a little at a time while making sure we get it done on time. When we read, we also have to be sure we not only understand it, but that we can articulately paraphrase and analyze it on multiple levels.

English majors must have an above average grasp on grammar and language. If you don’t learn proper grammar and don’t have an innate sense of grammatical rules, it’s going to make life very challenging. Consequently, this makes us very good at editing and finding errors in academic papers. Often times, we’ll have our friends or colleagues come to us for editing help. For me, I’ve actually become the editor of a website [] due to the skills gained from being an English major.

Finally, English majors are all critics; it comes with the territory. It’s in our daily practice to play Devil’s Advocate in order to reach final conclusions. Our creative process is dependent on conversation; we rely on each other’s thoughts and opinions a lot more than other majors.

Overall, English majors are not just book lovers. We are not just writers. We are editors. We are critics. We are surveyors of literature. We are English majors, and this is our life.

With assistance from fellow English majors Breanna Davis, Gabrielle Lazzaro, Lauren Harvey, and Mary Franks.

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