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colleges for english major

DebHDebH Registered User Posts: 18 New Member
edited September 2006 in Parents Forum
My daughter is a writer through and through. She has written several books. Once of which we actually shopped around. She did get some very nice and encouraging rejection letters!

My question is.. what are some really good colleges/universities for an english major. She would like a school with less than 10,000 students. Midwest, South or East. Small town, suburban or rural. She's been investigating different colleges but searching the english department of each has been tedious. Anyone have any ideas about colleges for budding writers?
Post edited by DebH on

Replies to: colleges for english major

  • padadpadad Registered User Posts: 916 Member
    Middlebury and Kenyon Colleges are well known for their creative writing programs. Both are well regarded LAC's and quite selective.
  • DebHDebH Registered User Posts: 18 New Member
    Thanks Padad. She hasn't looked at those so I will bring them to her attention.
  • huskem55huskem55 User Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 4,284 Senior Member
    brown, wesleyan, vassar, kenyon
  • carolyncarolyn Registered User Posts: 7,435 Senior Member
    Just emailed you with some links that might help.
  • dmd77dmd77 Registered User Posts: 8,663 Senior Member
    There are several colleges which make a distinction between writing majors and English majors, or where creative writing (fiction writing) is a limited admission major within the English department (and one applies as a sophomore). If your D is interested in non-fiction (essay) writing, that can be an entirely different activity (MIT has a science writing masters, for example). You need to look carefully at the actual major programs.

    My D liked the programs at Bard and Wesleyan, as well as Reed, where she is majoring in literature and theater and writing a play for part of her thesis. (But Reed is outside your geographic limitations.)
  • JHSJHS Registered User Posts: 17,054 Senior Member
    "English majors" and "creative writing" are two somewhat different questions. (My daughter was in the same boat, by the way.) Almost any good school will have a good English department and some sort of decent creative writing program, though. My daughter really liked the creative writing program at Carnegie Mellon, although she didn't choose to apply there. Kenyon absolutely attracts writers, as do lots of other LACs, especially arty ones like Reed, Oberlin, Wesleyan, Bennington, Sarah Lawrence.

    If you're looking at English departments, the list is pretty traditional: Harvard, Berkeley, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Chicago, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, and many, many others.
  • DebHDebH Registered User Posts: 18 New Member
    Thanks for all the advice. Wow! She will be busy the next week looking over all these schools and determining the best matches. And Carolyn, thanks for the links.
  • celloguycelloguy Registered User Posts: 661 Member
    While she's at it, might be worthwhile to talk to some recent graduates. My take on this is, if she can write, she will. No "lessons" required. There's no problem majoring in creative writing; it's a heady experience. But it's a mistake to think it will be much help in her career. An M.A. from, say, Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College might get her a job teaching writing. An undergraduate English degree isn't good for much but grad school. My D will take all the Lit courses she can pack in, for the sheer pleasure of it, but her major will probably be something that could get her a job. (Yes, I am a slightly embittered English major, as are many others.)
  • momrathmomrath Registered User Posts: 5,677 Senior Member
    Deb, I would concur that there’s a difference between finding a college with a strong creative writing program and a college with a strong English department. Just about ALL selective LACs and universities have strong English departments. If you look a their faculty you will most likely find published writers – novelists and poets – both as permanent members and visiting instructors. Most have programs under which creative students can choose fiction or poetry for senior theses or independent study.

    If she definitely wants to major in creative writing then her choices will be somewhat more narrow.

    If she just wants an strong English literature department with an adjunct focus on writing, then her choices will be very, very wide. In that case I would focus more on the fit that seems appropriate for her personality. Even using non-urban, under 10,000 students, east of the Mississippi as criteria will give you dozens of schools with excellent English departments. Without knowing much about her, I would add Skidmore and Williams to the list of schools that attract creative talent.
  • DebHDebH Registered User Posts: 18 New Member
    Celloguy, I told her and S from freshman year that they were to follow a math and/or science tract through H.S. And also, to remember that higher degrees in math or science usually mean more $$. But a higher degree in English... eh, not so much. She's a bright kid. Did well in all her classes but just can't put down the books. Usually reads a book every 1-3 days - even during school year. Sometimes she will have 2 or 3 books she is alternating. I couldn't do that. Her plan is to get an undergraduate in English and then a graduate degree in Library Science. Somewhere along the way, she will write the great american novel.
  • DebHDebH Registered User Posts: 18 New Member
    momrath, this is all so much. She has been looking at the English dept of various schools and at the bio's of faculty. But it's no wonder she can't narrow it down! I was hoping that a few would stand out more then others. I will show her this thread tomorrow evening and let her take it from there. Thanks for the help!
  • momrathmomrath Registered User Posts: 5,677 Senior Member
    Deb, It does seem overwhelming at first, especially if she's a good student and can get many schools regardless of the selectivity. You haven't actually told us much about her grades/scores etc. Targeting selectivity can be a good starting point for making a list of schools that includes reaches/matches/safeties.

    What grade is your daughter in? If she's a rising senior, she'll have to accelerate this process somewhat. If she's just a junior, then don't worry she's right on schedule. We've all gone through the "they all sound alike" phase, but once you start visiting you start to see patterns.

    My advice is to put the strength of the English department to the side for now and concentrate on fit. Once she has identified two or three schools that sound appealing she'll be able to add others in the same ambience.

    Good luck and let us know how it goes.
  • celloguycelloguy Registered User Posts: 661 Member
    "Her plan is to get an undergraduate in English and then a graduate degree in Library Science. Somewhere along the way, she will write the great american novel."

    Oh dear. Talk to some librarians too. I thought maybe I'd find work if I went back and got an MLS (of course readers love to work in libraries), but my good friend the librarian talked me out of it. She heads up a major hospital medical library and patiently explained to me that whenever an opening comes up she gets dozens of apps from highly qualified MLS grads. The lucky one who gets hired then gets paid just slightly over minimum wage and feels grateful to get it.

    But you know all this. That's why you insisted she keep up the math and science in high school. I'll be watching for the great American novel.
  • snorkysnorky Registered User Posts: 575 Member
    I've wondered in undergrads at University of Iowa with interest in writing are allowed any exposure to the famous writing faculty there. Or is it just for grad students? Kenyon and Oberlin have strong programs in creative writing. Also, I hate to see so many posts discouraging this young student from following her dreams. Yes, it's difficult to make it as a professional novelist. But it's not difficult at all to be a professional writer. Good writers -- for magazines, marketing and advertising, technical writing, etc. -- are hard to come by and often well paid. Many, many of these folks are writing novels on the side. Freelance writing is also a very family-friendly profession. I say go for it!
  • frazzled1frazzled1 Registered User Posts: 5,568 Senior Member
    Since your daughter is looking for a smallish school and would consider the South, I suggest checking out Vanderbilt. I've read in several sources that the English department is considered particularly strong (birthplace of the "New Criticism"), and I know from my daughter's experience that English faculty members are very committed to undergraduate education, spending time with students individually to evaluate their work.
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