Why I Chose English as a Major ― Real Students’ Stories
This article is based on first-person accounts from Brooke Elkjer, a junior at the University of Southern California; Katie DiFrancesco, a senior at Princeton University, and Moriah Kofsky, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. You can watch the full livestream for more info.
In this post, we’ll explore what inspired current and former students to choose English as a major.
Finding Your Passion
I came to USC on scholarship as a neuroscience major only to realize I don’t like science that much. I explored computer science and quantitative biology for a bit, but it was USC’s Thematic Option honors program that got me into English.
Like most colleges, USC has general education requirements that you need to meet no matter what your major is, but we have literature-heavy general education here at USC. For example, I took a science class called Process of Change in Science. It explored space travel and involved a lot of reading and writing. In taking that class, I realized that I didn’t enjoy studying for my biology courses, but I loved writing critical English pieces about any subject.
I was already almost done with my neuroscience credits when I came to this realization, so I added an English major and am now a double major. My focus right now is heavily on English because I’m actively working on those credits. I fell in love with writing and realized that, even if I’m less likely to get a great job right out of college, my passion is worth the sacrifice of not becoming a doctor, lawyer, or the like.
Broadening Your Horizons
Whenever I tell people I’m an English major, they ask if I’m going to be a teacher, as though that’s all you can be with an English degree. I don’t like being put in that box.
I’m studying screenwriting and creative writing. I plan to go into the entertainment industry, which almost no one at Princeton does. I didn’t even know I wanted to do that when I chose English as my major. That just goes to show how English helps you develop numerous skills that you need for so many jobs. English majors train you to think critically and creatively and look at things in different ways, and those skills apply to many careers. I can write better than any of my friends in any other majors, which is a great skill.
I love that English can overlap with so many different subjects. I’ve taken a lot of gender studies and environmental classes, for example. You can explore so many things through the vehicle of English. While some majors can be limiting, English can expand your horizons, and you can spin those skills to get any job that you want.
Empowering Your Narrative
I’m dyslexic, so writing has always been challenging for me. At the same time, I love narrative, from reading creative nonfiction pieces to critiquing essays and stories. I chose the English major because I wanted to understand how to structure a story better. I also wanted to feel like I could choose a more empowering narrative for myself. Studying English gave me a foundation to better learn and implement those skills.