Things You Learn as an English Major

So, I’m really fucking sick of everyone thinking that a BA or HBA in English is useless unless you plan to teach. So, here are some of the things that you learn as an English major that are far from useless:

1) If you are stonewalled in your search for information/research, there is always a workaround.

2) If there is a workaround, you will find it.

3) You will develop the sudden ability to read minds. (Well, actually, you’ll be picking up on subtext and the significance of word choice, and how it reveals underlying attitudes . . . but it’s basically the same thing.)

4) You will be able to make a convincing argument for just about anything.

5) You will also become fluent in bullshit, a handy language for many situations.

6) You will have an expanded vocabulary and an extended grasp of the rules of spelling, grammar, and syntax. Which means that not only will you sound smart, but people will start asking you what words mean, and what the proper past participle of irregular verbs are in [x] sentence.

7) The world — particularly the creative spheres — will be open to you as never before, now that you can find, understand, and appreciate the inherent symbolism of colours, nature references, and literary allusions.

8) Critical thinking. As an English major, being brilliant isn’t enough. You have to be able to prove why you’re brilliant.

9) You can write, and write well. Believe it or not, this is a valuable skill that is making an inexorable crawl towards the Endangered Species list.

10) Everything is fair game. Love, lust, gender, sexuality, death, murder, insanity, the structure of language, history, psychology, media, music, art, and more. As an English major, you have an all-access pass to ponder, poke, discuss, and critique all of these disciplines and the material they produce.

And, well, as a final point: do you realize that English majors can be fiction writers, poetry writers, magazine writers, magazine editors, essay writers, critics, book reviewers, journalists, playwrights, script and screen writers, TV and film directors, novel editors, freelance editors, elementary school teachers, university professors, tutors, advertisers, PR agents, textbook editors, songwriters, and radio hosts, just to name a few? Ergo, the next person who tells me that my degree is useless will be met with a swift “fuck you”.

I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.

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