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Here's a story you never heard

meepomeepo 7 replies2 threads New Member
edited August 2009 in Parents Forum
I've been stalking CC now for a while but another similar post compelled me to seek your sound advice. I hardly know where to begin, but here goes:

I am an international Asian. Only a handful of people from my country make it to an American university each year. Through extraordinary generosity from a really nice university (full ride), I will be joining many of you in the fall!

One of my dreams have miraculously come true. I am so grateful and overwhelmed.
But yet, so lost.

It seems absurd even to myself that a non-native speaker should feel so attracted to English lit. But I am. Throughout my schooling I have had to hide this from my parents, who both worked in banking. Every book I devour I tell them it's for school. It is my best subject and probably the reason why I won admission in the first place. Ironic, isn't it?

But I am also not blind to the implications of getting an English degree. Apart from the usual ones, one of those will be my dad becoming furious and cutting me off from what little money he will contribute. Another is that while I am away he will make my mother miserable and blame her for it. Meanwhile I am seriously doubting my abilities in this subject, especially in this uni. where undoubtedly I will be up against people who reads Virgil in Latin and Homer in Greek and quotes Plato spectacularly.

Please tell me what you think! Thanks so much in advance.
edited August 2009
39 replies
Post edited by meepo on
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Replies to: Here's a story you never heard

  • 4gsmom4gsmom 868 replies29 threads Member
    I don't really have any advice for you, but just wanted to say that the English in your post is better than I've seen from many Americans.

    Actually, I do have advice: you could major in something your parents would like and minor in English. Or double major and explain to your father that the English degree will help you get ahead.
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  • maritemarite 21343 replies243 threads Senior Member

    First of all, have confidence in yourself. Second, only a handful of your fellow students will have studied Latin, practically none will have studied Greek, and most likely they will not have read Virgil in Latin unless they took the AP in that particular subject.

    You are right to worry about your parents' reaction to your majoring in English. But: you are going to have a full ride, so you will not depend on your parent's financial support. I, too, received a full ride, and after the age of 17, did not depend on my parents for any financial help whatsoever. Nonetheless, you could consider double majoring, or majoring in something that would meet your parent's approval and at the same time taking as many classes in English as interest you and fit into your schedule. This would not be just for your parents' benefit but also to give you some useful skills in a tough job market, whether in the US or back home.
    Finally, don't discount the possibility of changing your mind. One of the most fascinating person I met started out as a potential English major and ended up as a physicist!
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  • GogallorGogallor 31 replies2 threads New Member
    I don't think you need to worry about reading anything by Virgil in English lit, if you wanted to be a classics major--then it would be different.

    You don't have to tell your parents what you are majoring in. For the first two years, just tell them you are studying in a lot of different areas and that you haven't decided yet. Also, you might change majors, most people do.

    But the fact is that you shouldn't hide that you will take a few English classes from your parents. You also shouldn't feel guilty about studying what interests you.

    Most schools even require taking humanities classes to satisfy general education requirements, so you being in those classes might not even be suspect. The biggest mistake, I believe, most kids make is telling their parents what they plan on majoring in, long before they even declare their major. Study what you want to study, and don't even worry about telling your parents what your major is until two years from now when you actuary do declare your major.
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  • scualumscualum 2834 replies58 threads Senior Member
    I agree with 4GSmom - Look at double majoring or major/minor.

    What I suggest doing is sitting down and working out the 4 year plan of all of the classes that you need to take for each degree as if you were majoring in that class alone. Then try to blend into one program - especially for the first two years when there should be lots of overlap.

    Depending upon the other major and the school, you may find that you can get the minor with only one or two extra classes - and the major with perhaps as few as 4-5. I know that I was able to double major in Computer Systems and Economics with only 4 extra classes.
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  • meepomeepo 7 replies2 threads New Member
    Thanks for all the suggestions!! (and this quick!)
    I would like to clarify though (and I should've seen it coming, sorry) that at my uni. there are no minors and it is very difficult to double major. I think the statistics come down to about 10% or less actually do double major. Not that I will not try my best at Econ & English.
    I will definitely take lots of lit classes, I'm just concerned career-wise and having that "English major" label will keep my options open (i.e. grad school?)
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  • ChedvaChedva 18931 replies11738 threads Super Moderator
    If you can't minor officially, just major in something that may be of interest and take all the English classes you like.

    And BTW, it's not unusual for a "non-native speaker" to major in the literature of a particular language. After all, many native English speaking students major in French Lit, Spanish Lit, German, etc. etc. etc.
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  • katliamomkatliamom 13973 replies170 threads Senior Member
    When I was in college, studying comparative literature, one of the best students in the department was a non-native English speaker. He wrote and spoke excellent English, but it was not his first language, nor was it his primary language.

    It can be done. Trust yourself and your abilities.

    As to majoring in literature -- you could double major. Or simply take a lot of lit classes while majoring in something else. That's the beauty of the american school system: it gives you enormous flexibility and freedom to explore your passions.
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  • boysx3boysx3 4993 replies174 threads Senior Member
    Perhaps explain to your parents that a double major or a minor in English will give you extra credibility with employers...it definitely would demonstrate advanced fluency in the English language skills you will need to have to prosper professionally, it will put you ahead of other applicants right at the beginning of the game when you are just a resume competing for that first interview at a company you want to work for. If presented properly, your parents will be impressed with your wisdom and maturity because you will be addressing their primary concern.

    At the end of college, when you are interviewing,...well, that's up to you. You will be pursuing work you wish to pursue and your parents financial support will not be an issue at that time. And you can cross this bridge when and if you come to it.
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  • mom2threemom2three 727 replies83 threads Member
    If you plan to work in the US, you could tell your parents that a degree in English will convince potential employers that you, a non-native speaker, have truly mastered the language, which would be true, and a real advantage over other non-native speakers.

    Even if double degrees or majors are not the norm at your university, this rationale could be a selling point not only for your parents but for your university. It's worth a shot.

    A non-native with a double major in English and Economics is going to be more marketable in the US, IMO, than a non-native with just the economics degree. IMO.

    (cross posted with boysx3, who is clearly a very wise individual...)
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  • NesterNester 805 replies57 threads Member
    Although I would never suggest you be untruthful with your parents, you should know that in the US, law can be studied only at the graduate school level, after the student has completed the four year BA or BS degree. And there is no particular undergraduate major preferred for law school admission; many English majors go on to study law. In law school admissions, undergraduate grades (in any major) and the score on the LSAT exam are the primary factors. So, if a student did very well as an English literature major, it would be perfectly plausible that he was preparing himself for a career in law.
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  • minimini 26167 replies259 threads Senior Member
    "First of all, have confidence in yourself. Second, only a handful of your fellow students will have studied Latin, practically none will have studied Greek, and most likely they will not have read Virgil in Latin unless they took the AP in that particular subject."

    95% of American college students will not know what a Virgil is, and will think you have misspelled "virgin", as in "Like a Virgil".
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  • maritemarite 21343 replies243 threads Senior Member
    Hey, mini, keep that one for my thread on "Hypocracy and other bees in my bonnet."

    To the OP:
    One person I know is currently doing a Ph.D, in history, his first love. He majored in econ then got an MBA, worked in I-banking to help put his younger sibling through college, but history was always his first love. The admissions committee took a gamble on him and apparently, it's paid off.
    I don't suggest doing that. But whether your diploma shows that you minored in something, it's less important than what your transcript will reveal: the courses you took
    and the grades you got. Also, recommendations from your profs. So, in your place, I would not worry too much about the official major.
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  • wis75wis75 14381 replies65 threads Senior Member
    Husband's aunt got a masters in English Lit in India. She's been in the US several decades now but still has a horrible accent (my H came at a younger age and has a better command of English than 95% of the American population). I agree that your writing is excellent here, adding a US education will give you the comprehensible spoken American English. Good advice from posters. You may need to remind your parents that in the US a well rounded education is valued- my H sometimes says I took a course in everything. Good luck.
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  • M's MomM's Mom 4507 replies55 threads Senior Member
    meepo, there are no stories on CC that no one has ever heard.

    Every year, there are posts from kids whose parents want them to major in x and they want to major in y. And every one of your predecessors worked out a solution. You will too. The advise you got here is good: Don't lie to your parents, but don't give up your own interests. This is one of those cases where a little research about what you can do with an English degree and a willingness to compromise will reassure your folks that you know what you are doing, and you can bend a little to ensure that their educational concerns are addressed. Everyone can win. Too bad the rest of life isn't like this.
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  • mantori.suzukimantori.suzuki 3245 replies102 threads Senior Member
    95% of American college students will not know what a Virgil is

    Ha! And 33.7% will respond to Latin with, "Grande or venti"?
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  • EngProfMomEngProfMom 253 replies4 threads Junior Member
    I second the various suggestions that you've had in response to your question. English is a good major to choose. Learning how to write and communicate really well is a time-intensive activity that deserves the sort of focus that's involved in an undergraduate major. English is also, for good or ill, one of the two most widely understood languages in the world. Many people major in English, for all sorts of reasons. Usually they enjoy reading and talking about books; they are interested in the past as well as the present. They're passionately interested in culture. Not all English majors write well, coming in: that's something of a myth. An English major does not get "out of date," and if your first or second language isn't English, having an undergraduate major will be a form of certification of your abilities.

    Possible career directions with an English major: anything involving extensive verbal and written communication.
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  • boysx3boysx3 4993 replies174 threads Senior Member
    Mom2three, it's obvious great minds think alike! and have the perfect number of children!
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  • mathmommathmom 33180 replies161 threads Senior Member
    Isn't Latin what they speak in Latin America? ;)
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  • mochamavenmochamaven 876 replies2 threads Member
    If it's possible, a double major could help ease their discomfort. I have a friend who wanted to major in English, but his parents were very much not ok with it. So he doubled up with Econ and satisfied them, while still pursuing his favorite subject.
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  • meepomeepo 7 replies2 threads New Member
    Thanks boysx3 and mom2three! It's so mind-boggling but I actually have never thought of it that way before, the whole non-native with an Eng degree is more marketable angle. I TOTALLY AGREE! :)

    My uni. is kind of a tough place to double-major, but it will not stop meeeeee!
    I think they got rid of having minors years and years ago because (they thought) people would be compelled to do minors, which is probably true.
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