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Opinion: Sincerely, an English major

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Stop telling me that I am doomed to a life of regret.

As a senior English major at Morehead State, I have had the fortune of being told on a multitude of occasions by dutiful self-proclaimed good Samaritans that I chose the single most regretted major in the country. 

English has remained the most regretted major in America according to a survey by “Trade Schools, Colleges and Universities” which showed 54.3% of surveyed English graduates were not satisfied with their choice.

Even if people haven’t seen the stats, it does not dissuade them from their own analysis on the invalidity of my degree.

For over three years I have been told that all I do is read books all day in my Hobbit hole and correct people’s grammar or when to say “whom” versus “who,” which is an objective versus subjective-case pronoun debacle I never get into. 

There has often been a surface assumption that the reason we English majors sell our souls to literacy is because we are bibliophiles, pitiful bookworms, who simply wish to escape reality and immerse ourselves in the realms of fiction and fantasy.

There is hardly another fallacy I have found quite so irritating.

For three years I have studied literature alongside history and strengthened my own critical analysis skills to see beyond the ink on the page into what really mattered and how it affected the world.

My class on short stories and novels spent an entire semester on female black authors in America, where I learned more about racism, historical injustices and how racial and gender disparity has continued to plague our country today then I had in any history class.

Beyond fiction, I have read autobiographies, speeches and nonfiction dating back centuries that account historical events and their impacts.

When Chinua Achebe, a famous Nigerian writer, wrote Things Fall Apart it sold more than 10 million copies globally.

It was successful not because people could curl up and read its pages for leisure. Instead, it reminded the world of the reality of the impact of colonialism on African culture and identity.

I don’t know what is more real than that.  

Beyond the misconception that all we do is read, one of my personal favorites is when I have told people my major, they usually respond with, “Why? How do you expect to get a job?”

My fellow collegiate peers who are dedicated to the world of STEM are not asked to defend their choice. Instead, they are usually praised as a future doctor, tech wiz or math genius.

The favored argument is that STEM has given students pre-professional preparation after graduation.

While my major has not directly prepared me for a specific line of work once I graduate, this does not mean my major has left me destitute in the workforce.

Rather, the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that 73.4% of employers want a candidate with strong written communication skills.

“If you are trying to decide among a few people to fill a position, hire the best writer,” said Jason Fried, CEO of Basecamp. “Writing is today’s currency for good ideas.”

Communication and writing skills are one of the top three searched for attributes in employees according to the NACE, and these skills will be evaluated in almost every college-level course.

That is why the STEM majors come to us when that infamous essay is due.

The rising need for strong writers has continued to increase as communication has become more integral than ever in the digital world, which has made English majors applicable for a plethora of career opportunities.

My English degree has prepared me to be the next big shot lawyer, to write a future president’s speech, to be the next Bob Woodward.

I could be anything.

So don’t tell me to regret it.