The best of English, the worst of English
Hello, everyone! It’s been awhile. How are you?
This semester I’ve been running around campus, and it looks a little bit like this.
You may know the feeling: head down, tiny legs running faster than you thought they could to get out of the rain/cold/slush the weather decided to bestow upon us that day. Maybe a casual face-plant, or two.
Although everything seems to be a dash for the finish line, I wanted to take a moment to slow down and appreciate my major. This semester is the first semester that I’ve only had one English class. Most of my time is spent working at the Admissions Office, The Daily Illini, and at a startup, but last year I was taking three English classes a semester and I absolutely loved it.
Sure, there can be a lot of papers (and by that I mean around 30 pages per class, per semester) but English classes provide you with something that a lot of other classes don’t: connection. My classes vary in size, but every discussion session is about 15 people. That’s only 15 people, with their own respective majors, interests, ideas, hobbies, and opinions. And you get to know them, I promise. We are a relatively tight-knit group.
When you put 15 people into a room all semester and just tell them to talk about books, it’s an experience that you won’t get anywhere else. I don’t think that even book clubs usually achieve this level of discussion (but that may have to do with the readings not being mandatory). Either way, it’s something to appreciate more as I transition from my major classes to my minor classes, which are a lot of large lectures.
There are so many English courses to take, with so many topics available it’s sometimes hard to decide. I’ve taken pre-18th century, post-18th century, medieval bodies, Shakespeare, Romantic literature, American literature, heroism and national identities (a comic book class), 19th century women’s writers, and slew of other courses. I’ve learned that, while it is amazing to be able to read all of the books I actually want to read (that you’d probably never imagine reading for course material) its what’s beyond that that matters.
English forces you to look at things differently, survey a situation from all angles, and make an argument based off of your observations. It’s difficult to convey your thoughts sometimes, and get them across to a large community of people—often how its difficult to pitch a new idea to a boardroom—but it provides you with that essential skill of written communication. Granted, it can be extremely difficult to churn out a 10-page paper in a couple weeks. The frustration of starting it is what gets me the most.
But being able to demonstrate your thought process, clearly explain what you want to say in a concise manner and actually have people understand it, that’s rewarding. To some in the business world, it’s invaluable.
Overall, it’s easy to say that I love my major, and my classes. But it’s nice to take the time to sit down and think about everything I’ve accomplished so far in my years at the university. It’s a lot more than reading books, and with my major I’m confident that I can find my fit in a number of different fields. Just remember, no matter what your major, to pursue what makes you happy.
If you ever have any questions about English majors, classes, or school in general, feel free to comment below.