English As A Major

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Back when I was only a seventh grader in middle school, my english teacher Ms. Berry gave my class a particularly thought provoking assignment: 1) write a short paper about what you plan to major in and why or 2) if you don’t envision college as your future, write a short paper on what you plan to do after your school career. We were given two days to complete it. Now, a project like this may seem easy to do, but as a seventh grader, college was the furthest thing from my mind. I hadn’t even made it to high school yet! Why did I have to write on a topic that wouldn’t impact me until years later? After the initial stage of hearing the assignment, I began to mull over Ms. Berry’s words. I was initially taken aback by the fact that she acknowledged that college wasn’t the only option in life. That in itself was thought provoking.

Growing up, what do your teachers and parents always tell you about school? “Get good grades so that you get into a good college.”

Why get into a good college? “Get into a good school so that you can get a good job.”

What exactly is a “good job”? “A job that pays well so you can support yourself and your family.”

What about a job doing things that I like? “If you can make it work, thats fine. Otherwise, get a job that pays enough so that you can do what you enjoy on the side.”

Does any of this sound familiar?

After class, my friends and I continued to talk about the homework assignment. It was pretty well known around the school that I was a video game fanatic, so classmates kept coming up to me saying things along the lines of, “I bet you’re going to major in computer science and engineering, right? I know you like video games. Are you going to make them?” I remember being really urked at this assumption; I don’t only play video games. Reading was a big part of life, too. It had always been a dream of mine to become a fiction writer because I love fantasy; I’ve always been a big daydreamer. When I revealed that no, I actually planned on majoring in english of all things, I can clearly recall the looks of pity and shock. “English?” many classmates echoed. “What are you going to do with that? You’ll never make any money that way. All you can do is become a teacher, and everybody knows that they make absolutely nothing.”

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Comments like that were plentiful. I began to doubt myself. Am I making the wrong choice? What if I don’t succeed? Not even out of middle school yet and I was already having a midlife crisis!

Later than night, I spent hours upon hours looking at a blank word document on my computer screen. Am I setting myself up for failure? I like to read and write, shouldn’t I pick a major that would help me do something that I love? Becoming an author had always been my dream after all.

After taking a deep breath and sorting out my thoughts for a few more minutes, I began to write:

In a society where technology is highly valued, it can be a wonder as to why I would choose to major in English; a field that many would deem as “useless” in today’s job market. Many students are urged to study in fields such as medicine, computer science, and engineering in an effort to ensure that they have the greatest chance to have jobs in a struggling economy. And with countless news sources and companies such as Yahoo churning out articles with titles such as “Top 10 Degrees to Major in” and “5 Useless Majors that Bosses Don’t Want” at least once as week, it can be extremely disheartening for a person that decides that math and science laden paths just are not for them. As it so happens, I am one of those persons that has chosen to take another route known as English; a route that is slowly become less traveled.

As a child, books always fascinated me. Unlike most children, bedtime was my favorite part of the day. I would scramble into my pajamas and under the covers as I eagerly waited for my mother to appear in the doorway, book in hand. I looked forward to hearing new stories whose colorful pictures and descriptive words would drag me into a new world. As I grew older, I soon began reading books to my parents. I delighted in showing off my “superb” reading abilities and sharing my favorite parts of storybooks to anybody in my family that would listen. At a young age, I had already developed a love for reading. By the time I reached middle school, my definition of a goodtime was spending hours upon hours at the public library checking out as many books as I could that could fit into my book bag. I absolutely relished books because reading took me to places I could only dream of.

To me, words are magic. The words of an author provide me with the opportunity to travel the world without having to pay for plane ticket. I can enjoy traveling to both fictional and non-fictional countries and worlds because I am able to use my imagination to envision the surroundings and the events that the words of the author paint into my mind. And with that revelation, I am able to see the power behind words. The power to completely ensnare an audience in a fantasy that may or may not exist using only words is an aspect that I have come to greatly appreciate during my later years. Writing is the way that I best express myself. Through writing, I am able to release my emotions; frustration, happiness, sadness, anxiousness. I take great pleasure in sharing my works of fiction with the people around me. I find that writing makes me happy and I can envision myself writing fiction that the world will enjoy.

I chose to major in English become someday I wish to become a successful writer. Because I highly treasure imagination, my heart breaks a little when people often tell me that they do not enjoy reading; that they rather spend their time watching television shows or playing videogames that has little plot and dialogue. I feel that people, particularly children, feel this way because during their school years, they are forced to read canon novels that don’t truly cater to the different interests of the children. This is one reason why I genuinely admire J.K Rowling. She was able to take to world by storm and entice millions of children to pick up a book and use their imagination. The style of her books is completely different from the traditional works of Shakespeare, Robert Frost, Toni Morrison, etc. I believe that like Rowling, I too can write works of fiction that can excite people and urge them to (re)discover the joys that reading can bring.”

As I finished my paper, I felt relieved; I managed to convey why I liked reading and why I wanted to major in english. However, I could still hear the pitying voices of my classmates in my head. Would I base my career and the rest of my life on a silly love of reading, writing, and daydreaming? Many people liked to read, but that doesn’t mean that they all ran off to became authors.

In the end, I ended up writing a paper on why my love of video games and art would lead me to a major and career in computer science. That decision is what lead me to UMD. My first year on campus I was registered as computer science major. But after some serious critical thought and a series of unforeseen circumstances, I ended up switching my major to english; the major that I knew in my heart of hearts I really wanted to do. Even though I was initially apprehensive about the switch, I can honestly say that I don’t regret my choice of switching. And as for my love of video games, whose to say that I can’t become a video game storyboard writer?

3 thoughts on “English As A Major

  1. Agree with Vas! I can’t believe you wrote that in 7th grade. Your papers must be amazing.

    I think people really underestimate an English degree. I always say: “English teaches you to think critically. It may be about texts you hate, but it does in fact teach you to think critically in every subject.” I love English because there is no right or wrong if you can defend yourself. English is amazeballs 🙂

  2. Those Yahoo articles are so stupid. There are a thousand variations that all say the same thing. No, Yahoo, I will not get a business degree.

    English majors unite!

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