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Meet the Major: English

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I applied to the University of Massachusetts Amherst as an English major back in 2017. Throughout the entirety of my schooling, I have always been fascinated by literature. I was a textbook book worm. I always had my nose in a book and I was constantly on the hunt for the next piece of literature I could get my hands on. When I was in high school, my love for English flourished. I took Advanced Placement Literature and the course challenged me to explore the depth of the discipline, and left me hungry for more. Back in high school I also had the most compassionate and vibrant English teacher, and her passion for the subject led in part to my decision to pursue a career in English. Despite adding a secondary major in communication, my love for English is still as strong as ever.

The English major here at UMass Amherst is an enriching program that offers smaller classes that facilitate discussion, frequent writing, active student engagement, and face-to-face contact with research faculty. The department's programs of study in language, literature, and writing promote a wide range of perspectives and encourage inquiry into diverse textual, cultural, and theoretical traditions. Let us explore what my experience has been like thus far as an English major here at UMass.

Why did you major in English?

As I mentioned previously, I have always had a passion for English. This lifetime passion made my decision to major in English a no-brainer. When thinking of what I wanted to pursue in college, even though I did not have a set career plan, I knew I would be happy majoring in English. What I love so much about the major is not only am I continuously developing and expanding my writing and critical thinking skills, but I am having fun while doing it. I have never considered myself a talented or scholarly writer in the slightest, but I love the freedom and joy that writing brings into my life. Writing has always been so natural to me, and I loved doing it in my free time even if I was not the best at it. Ultimately, my decision to study English came in part from a lifelong passion and a desire to expand concrete skills such as critical thinking and writing. 

What are your classes like?

As you may have anticipated, there is a lot of reading, writing, and discussion in a typical English class here at UMass. Based on the topic of the class, you will be reading a lot of text that complements that topic. So far, I have taken classes on Shakespeare, the Bible, post-colonial literature, new media studies, video games, and even a course about comic books. As you can see, the possibility of courses offered in the English department covers a vast amount of topics and challenges students in creative and interesting ways. Ultimately, while many of these courses are reading and writing intensive, the amount of growth I have developed in these areas is astounding. In these courses, I am intellectually challenged and encouraged to voice my thoughts and opinions. No matter what, no two English courses offered here at UMass are the same, leaving me wanting to discover the depth of the major even more. 

What are the career options of this major? 

When you think of career options for an English degree, the first thing that likely comes to mind is education. While teaching is a very common path for many English majors, it is not the only thing you can do with the degree. A degree in English prepares students to write and speak well, to think analytically and critically, and to solve problems quickly, all of which are required and sought after in today's 21st-century job market. I find that the skills taught within the English major are so expansive that they can be molded into just about any job market, highlighting the flexibility of the major. For example, the English department offers specializations in Professional Writing and Technical Communication (PWTC) and The Study and Practice of Writing (SPOW) to prepare students for a multitude of writing-intensive careers.

I am majoring in English with an aspiration of working in the marketing and communications field. Having strong writing and critical thinking ability are crucial skills that I need in these fields, and my English degree has prepared me for that. Not once during an interview has my English major been questioned; it has always been viewed as an asset. The possibilities of careers with an English degree are endless. Truthfully, we should be asking what can’t you do with this degree, rather than what you can. 

What do you plan to do with your English degree? 

Combined with my secondary degree in communication, I have aspirations to pursue a career in business. I love how creative and critical marketing and communications can be. Throughout my various internship experiences within the field, I found myself both challenged and eager to learn more. Despite not having a traditional business degree, I do not feel like I am missing out in any way. Thus far, I have had little issue breaking into my desired field with a humanities degree. If anything, my unique background helps set me apart. While I am currently exploring the business sector, I am very open to different opportunities in the future. Ultimately, I can find a way to fit my English degree into just about any field or discipline, giving me plenty of options in the future. 

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