Calling All English Majors

<p>Hello fellows,</p>

<p>I'm new here and well uh, I'm going to be starting college very soon. I'm 17 and I just graduated High-School one week ago (a year early) and I'm planning on majoring in English Composition. I don't care if people say it's a useless degree; while I may never get a luxury 6 or 7 figure job from it, the ability to critically analyze information and effectively communicate information via writing should earn me a middle class life.</p>

<p>I was just wondering, what is it like studying English in college? Do you get any homework? If so, what is the homework like? What do you do in class all day? What should I expect? I always hear the Engineering elitists laughing at the Liberal Arts majors as being child's play or stupid, but as an avid writer, I know that there is MUCH more to English than they think. It's really an art form in itself--to use words in such an amazing way.</p>

<p>Is it going to be an absolute breeze or will it be the most miserable, time-consuming experience of my life? I'm a pretty organized person, I graduated a year early, and I do everything ahead of time. My IQ is 130 and graduating GPA a 3.8. How will I fare in college as an English major?</p>

<p>Ah. IQ is only a tiny fraction of success. Far more important is hard work, drive, passion for the subject and curiousity. And that’s only classroom success. College is equally made of the friendships and experiences you have which require a good EQ (interpersonal skills). I can name drop an IQ of 173, a good degree from a good university and interesting previous work but that doesn’t mean squat right now as my severe depression right now means I can’t work or study. </p>

<p>I’d be a bit cautious at the narrow specialisation of your major. Anyone can be a writer but being a good writer also requires being a great reader. You might want to consider a broader English or English literature degree with creative writing or journalism minor. You also need to think about what sort of day job you’d like to fund your writing until you’re established.</p>

<p>I have no idea if you’re suited, but I can help you decide if you might be.</p>

<p>Depending on the school, you will take one or both full year survey courses: English Lit from Beowulf to the present, and American lit from the Pilgrims to the present. The older stuff can be hard to read, and some of the very early American stuff can be dull. If you love to read and like exploring different cultures, you’ll do OK. You may find that a lot of your reading is dull. The joys of reading the things you do like must be enough to offset the other stuff.</p>

<p>In your lower level classes, you will probably do a mixture of essays and exams. There may be a quiz on every new assignment. In upper-level courses you will write only essays. Plan on reading a lot of Shakespeare, Paradise Lost, and a couple of 1000-page novels from the 1700s. Plan on reading a lot of poetry and plays by other writers too. Plan on getting philosophical. To do really well, take history courses that cover the periods you’ll be covering, and at the very least the first-year history of philosophy course.</p>

<p>You will read almost every night. Unlike high school classes, you will generally be expected to have completed full works of literature before the first day of discussion.</p>

<p>Depending on your cleverness (or lack of it) you may live in a constant state of worry because you will graded subjectively so much of the time. A smart chem major can know in advance if she’s going to get an A on a test just by knowing how hard she studied. You may never have that luxury. A paper you busted your butt on may get an A- and you may never quite understand why a classmate got an A instead. I’m serious when I refer to this as cleverness. Just being intelligent is no guarantee. You need to be insightful, even surprising.</p>

<p>It helps a lot if you’re politically liberal. You will be taught by Marxists, feminists, and queers, and if you don’t know why now, you will learn why queer is a not a bad word.</p>

<p>PM me if you want to know more.</p>

<p>Most English classes of mine have been a combination of tests/essays for grades. Tests can be in-class essays or sometimes objective “facts” (who was _<strong><em>? what was the name of _</em></strong>?) I’ve never had “homework” in the sense that there are worksheets or daily assignments that need to be completed, but reflection papers aren’t unheard of. Usually most of my time is spent reading (expect to read a lot nightly, spending 1-3 weeks per book) but then I get 3 or 4 “spikes” throughout the semester when suddenly I have essays due in every single class, and that’s very stressful. It’s also unpleasant waiting for essays to be handed back because sometimes you honestly just have no idea if you did well or if the professor will like it or your thesis was even any good.</p>

<p>Most programs will make you take Shakespeare, American Lit, British literature pre 1700s, then British literature post 1700s.</p>

<p>I’m a Writing and Rhetoric major. Not every college has this kind of major (it’s developing and evolving rapidly amongst the politics of English departments), but it truly is a remarkable way to enhance your critical thinking skills while also receiving more practical training for a job.</p>

<p>Though my courses don’t deal with the literary canons of Shakespeare and Cervantes, we read A TON of scholarly journals directly from the writing and rhetoric field. I also have reading every night, but my readings deal more with sifting through information to find its core. We have to think critically to find the overall point and to put all of these articles into a discussion. My theoretically-based courses usually consist of about 3 or 4 papers, and it’s pretty much all based on the readings and class discussion. My practical courses (like a peer tutoring class) can be different, and sometimes the application of your writing knowledge and your skills is more stressful than actually learning all of it. </p>

<p>Like another poster said, an important aspect of writing is subjectivity. Regardless of your genre (literary analysis, rhetorical analysis, business proposal, book review, etc.), someone is always going to see your piece in a different light. You have to just put yourself and your best out there, which is scary yet also very prominent.</p>