In university, every degree has stereotypes, but the degree that seems to have the most is English. As the only English major in a group of friends who are either science, math, or business majors, the constant remarks are humorous in all honesty, but the fact of the matter is, most of them are misconceptions.
While it is true that we are often English majors because we had an inspiring teacher that made us fall in love with reading and writing, it does not mean we want to necessarily become teachers. And no, becoming a teacher is not the only plausible career option.
Continuing on the subject, the most common misconception about being an English major is that there are few job prospects and the ones that are available are low-paying. Besides teaching, there are careers in copywriting, editing, freelancing, marketing, publishing, social media, and writing as a whole, and these are merely the tip of the iceberg. While it is true that jobs pertaining to English majors pay less than higher-end professions in medicine, accounting, or other fields, we don’t decide to major in English because we want to earn a six-figure salary. It would be absurd to study for only that motivation. To pursue a career in English and become successful, the love for reading and writing needs to be there, but that applies to any degree; to become successful in any facet of life, there needs to be passion.
Aside from the careers in English, another common misconception is that becoming an English major is “easy,” as if a four-year degree is easy in any sense. According to the stereotypes, all we do is read books and write essays. While that is true to a certain extent, what isn’t taken into consideration is that we are often required to read several novels a semester and in the upper-level classes, even multiple novels a week. The amount of extensive research and time put into writing an essay and rewriting it puts an immense strain on the brain.
Being the only English major in a group of friends, I edit their papers from time to time. This stereotype is subjective because some enjoy it and others hate it. Personally, I side with the former, as I like editing papers and reading what my friends are writing because it’s fun to see how their thought process works in comparison to mine. But no, we are not your personal spell checkers who you can call upon at all times. We have to write and edit our own papers as well, so pay attention to our corrections! It will save valuable time for the both of us.
On a lighter note, it’s true that we’re known for using impeccable grammar, knowing the proper placement of commas, and knowing the difference between “your” and “you’re,” and “their,” “there,” and “they’re.” That is a stereotype that I will not deny and am proud of. But that does not mean we know everything. There is a difference between writing and editing; there are people who can write but cannot edit well and vice versa. Everyone has his or her role and everyone needs help at times, including us.
However, with the use of impeccable grammar, the moment we do slip up, we’re given a hard time. Speaking for myself, I text with proper sentences, starting with a capital and ending with a period. However, my friends text “normally” and when they obviously misspell or use a word incorrectly, I correct them. The moment I accidentally make a mistake in grammar, my friends harp on me, but that comes with the territory and I accept it. It’s funny, really. While most English majors do prefer to text with proper sentences, we use slang and acronyms as well; we’re not judging you for not writing like us (at least most of the time), we’re people too.
While most of the stereotypes of an English major are false, I will admit that the bookstore is one of my favourite places in the world and whenever I see a bookstore, I have to go in and walk the aisles and marvel at the selection of books, even though I may not buy them. The smell of books, old and new, is a fascination that one can only understand if they take the time to take in the experience.
And yes, I love tea.