1. MiltonClemens
    Offline

    MiltonClemens Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2009
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Jakarta, Brisbane

    University Majoring in English Literature

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by MiltonClemens, Oct 2, 2009.

    HI again, :D some of you probably might have known me, I'm Michael and I'm 16. Everyone would probably understand that at this point of my life, I should have chosen my major for university.

    I loved writing since the fourth grade, and I learn to love it through some creative brainstorming (started with simple writings, dialogue, everything that came into my mind) which then grew into some serious intentions. I intended to write novels when I entered the seventh grade, the need to spill my ideas in a piece of literary fiction became real. By the time I entered the ninth grade, I have read quite a lot of books and learned that literature is a beautiful thing.

    Recently I have been having advanced English courses (As you can see, I am not a native speaker; or to put it simpler, English is not my mother language). I learned to love literature even more and I write even better than i was when I was in the eighth grade. I learned that literature is such a beautiful thing that even after we have studied it, we would only know 25% of it. My mother and father expected me to take up other majors other than those related to arts. When I was in grade ten I used to think about taking up Civil Engineering as an alternative, but as I continue on, I've come to learn that Literature IS and WILL be the only subject for me. My parents would not understand and they kept on disagreeing. I talked to the high school counselor about this, she handles everything related to university and etc. She said that I should take the major IF I have an undying passion for it. Right now, my parents are trying to reconsider.

    I have but one problem, my parents once said that I will not have big opportunities if I were to take up the literature major. Even if I succeed in writing a book, there are lots and lots of competition that I could not even think of. This is holding me back, what do you think? Do you think the Literature major would be important in the world? Please, I really need help :confused:, thanks :)
     
  2. hiddennovelist
    Offline

    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2009
    Messages:
    10,256
    Likes Received:
    161
    Location:
    Fabulous Sin City
    There are lots of people who major in one thing and then go into a career for something else...getting a degree in English Literature doesn't mean that the only career you would ever be able to pursue is one related to English.

    On the flipside, you can pursue a career in writing without majoring in English Literature.

    What it all comes down to in the end is that you should major in something that interests you, not your parents and not some school counselor. If literature is something that interests you, that you could see yourself studying in depth for the next several years, and if you've looked at other options for majors and it's what interests you most, I say go for it.

    I got my bachelor's degree in English Lit, and I loved it. I learned a lot, I enjoyed my time in school, and while there are people now who say "well, what are you going to do with that?" when they find out what I majored in, I don't feel like my choice of major has limited me in any huge way in regards to careers I could pursue.
     
  3. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    You don't need a degree in anything at all to write fiction. The career potential in an English Literature degree doesn't seem very high, outside of becoming a teacher.

    Most degree programs these days demand proficiency in writing anyway, so there is no real need to major in Literature or a related field to become a writer. If you have an interest in working in Civil Engineering, you would probably benefit more my majoring in that. Writin g as a career is a huge gamble anyway. You'll want a lucrative profession to fall back on, or at least to keep you fed and sheltered while you struggle to succeed as a writer. And to pay back your hefty student loans.
     
  4. arron89
    Offline

    arron89 Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    2,460
    Likes Received:
    91
    Location:
    Auckland
    I'm a Lit Major at the moment, and yeah, its the kind of thing that is only a good idea if you really love to study literature. The career prospects aren't huge, but then again,they lead into teaching and Academia, and chances are that if you love to study lit, you'd love either of those career paths...
    Besides that, Arts degrees teach skills that apply quite broadly anyway - things like analysis, communication skills, writing skills, research skills, and I'm not saying you won't get those in other career paths (altough the writing of some of my BSc friends.....hmmm....) but it's a degree that will set you up with a set of real, employable skills, not just a knowledge of literature.
     
  5. Ashleigh
    Offline

    Ashleigh Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2008
    Messages:
    4,186
    Likes Received:
    143
    Location:
    In the comfort of my stubborn little mind.
    English will get you everywhere and anywhere that you want to be. You are not limited to being either a writer or a teacher. Literature opens many, many doors - aside from going into publishing agencies, teaching english in forein countries, Theatre, Journalism or working in library management etc - English can get you pretty much any other job that doesn't require specific qualifications (Such as a doctor, or mechanic - specialist areas, I mean).

    It's a fantastic degree - I myself am studying Literature right now, and In just one week I've learnt heaps about Greeks, Drama, Aristotle - all valuable information which will give me the ability to grow as a person and expand myself.

    If you decide you don't want to go into a career involving literature in some shape or form, then it does not stop you from going into other areas. Plenty of people do.

    What a Degree tells the employer is that this person had the drive to better themselves, study hard for something they're passionate about and to achieve an ultimate goal. Such a thing takes character and ambition - no employer is going to turn that down.

    The career prospects are massive. If you decide to apply for a management position for some company, then why not? The employer won't care about the fact that your degree is in literature as much as say...the owner of a magazine or newspaper, for example, no - but they'll be interested in the fact that you went out and achieved it anyway.


    As long as you know what aspects of the degree have bettered you as a person (Ability to analyse, think logically, interpret, manage your time, meet deadlines, follow instruction and use initiative, for example) then there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn't be able to branch out of the literature area if you want to in the future.

    When you're at Uni, the important thing is to do what makes you happy. It is NO good going to do some other degree simply because somebody has told you that the money's good in that field. If you aren't passionate about your subject then you're missing out - remember that your time, hard work and money goes into this degree. It has to be worth it for you and nobody else. Be bold and be different.
     
  6. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    This is exactly why most undergrad programs have had to augment their English writing requirements. Corporations are tired of hiring employees with college degrees who cannot compose a comprehensible one page memorandum, much less a business proposal or a requirements specification. I was often called upon to rewrite documentation for clarity -- documents created by people with Masters degrees and even PhDs -- and at the time I didn't have any degree at all.

    No, but they are far more likely to hire the person with an MBA (Master of Business Administration) or a BSc in Business or Management. In the United States, at least, a degree in Literature isn't very meaningful outside of academia.
     
  7. Ashleigh
    Offline

    Ashleigh Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2008
    Messages:
    4,186
    Likes Received:
    143
    Location:
    In the comfort of my stubborn little mind.

    Who says that everybody with a BSc in Business Management is going to be right for the job? They might have a degree behind them, but they could still be useless and a very poor choice for employment.

    Let me give you an example. My dad was looking to hire someone new to be part of his team at the company he works at. One guy had a degree in something more relative to the job, and the other guy had a degree in Geography.

    The first guy seemed to have all the right qualifications, great CV - seemed perfect. Come the interview, my dad realise that he was a completely foolish man who liked nothing more than to talk about how his wife recently left him and his life has gone down hill. In an interview? sure. He did not get the job.

    The second guy, however, had a degree in Geography - not exactly work related, but that didn't matter. In the interview he was ambitious, eager to work, eager to learn, and he'd already proved that by the fact that he had the drive to go out and get a degree in something he loved. That's impressive.

    He was better for the job than the guy with the career-related degree by a long shot. My dad hired him, and any sane employer would've done the same.
     
  8. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    The reality is that every job position (again, this is in the United States) gets MANY resumes submitted. Most jobs are required to be opened to resume submission to prevent cronyism. The resumes are then filtered by Human Resources, and only the closest matches are passed along to the hiring manager. One of the first filter criteria is the education. If the candidate doesn't meet the (often arbitrary) degree requirements, the resume doesn't get passed along to the hiring manager at all. Even if it does get passed along, the hiring manager will often place a lot of weight on the degree level and area.

    I know as well as anyone that a degree doesn't guarantee a better worker. I didn't have a degree when I applied to ANY of the jobs I worked at over the years. In the last few years that made things more difficult, which is why I finally went to the expense and effort to complete my degree. But before that, I proved myself by my accomplishments and raw ability. And if I may say so, I proved myself quite well in two quite different professions.
     
  9. Ashleigh
    Offline

    Ashleigh Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2008
    Messages:
    4,186
    Likes Received:
    143
    Location:
    In the comfort of my stubborn little mind.
    My point is, though, that if the OP wants to do a degree in literature, then they shouldn't be swayed purely on the basis that if they wanted to get an average job at some company, somebody with a related degree might beat them.

    After all, further education is meant to better yourself in an area that you're passionate about. Literature happens to be very broad IMO - if he was doing something like art, however, and couldn't find a job in that area, then it'd be more of a problem.
     
  10. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    University educations are VERY expensive. It is wise to consider whether you will earn enough from it to pay for it.
     
  11. The Freshmaker
    Offline

    The Freshmaker <insert obscure pop culture reference> Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2006
    Messages:
    1,784
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    St. Petersburg, FL
    Or get a good scholarship.
     
  12. Ashleigh
    Offline

    Ashleigh Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2008
    Messages:
    4,186
    Likes Received:
    143
    Location:
    In the comfort of my stubborn little mind.
    ^ yeah, but we have loans here and pay them back at ridiculously low rates, and that's only after earning a certain amount once you have a job anyway.
    Perhaps we have it easier in England and that gives us a bit more freedom in our choices here, I don't know.
     
  13. marina
    Offline

    marina Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2008
    Messages:
    1,280
    Likes Received:
    55
    Location:
    Seattle
    If you major in literature, just know that you need to plan on graduate school in something more utilitarian--business, engineering, law, computer science, etc. The alternative is to continue in literature and work towards a PhD (or whatever the equivalent is in the UK) with the hope of teaching literature in college.

     
  14. Mercurial
    Offline

    Mercurial Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2009
    Messages:
    3,453
    Likes Received:
    117
    I'm speaking, as many are, from their cultures --I have yet to see an Aussie speak, but know that I am an American, and in my national society, it's considered valuable to work as hard as you can for as long as your can and get as high up the financial ladder as you can. --And, no. A degree in English Literature will not usually help you get to where you want to be. (Most people "want to be" at the top; doctors, lawyers, etc.)

    I am eighteen, and in America we start university a bit later than others do (Seventeen or eighteen, usually.), but in high school we are required to take either college prep or dual-credit courses which are identical to courses you would take in a university environment.

    For a long time, I wanted to be an English lit major. My number one uni right now is the best in the country for English lit majors. However, in America at least, a "soft" major (IE: English, foreign languages, social sciences) tends to not get you as far alone as with a hard major (biology, chemistry, engineering, etc).

    Now, Marina, I think, has given the best advice (from an American's perspective) on the situation. If you want to major in English lit, that's fine and well, but you'd be wise to be prepared for graduate or medical school if you are looking for a well-paying job.

    Might I suggest, if it's available, double-majoring? I was considering a double major in English with something more practical, like biology (since I plan to go to med school anyway). This way, I can satisfy my love for literature and still emerge as what I believe is successful. However, I'll probably end up not electing English lit and majoring in more practical areas. I do intend on speaking to English profs frequently though, because literature is something I'll always have a passion for.

    If you want my advice, I say your parents are probably right. English lit, at least in America, is probably not the most practical approach if you view university as a stepping stone to the corporate world. (If you view it as pure academia, then disregard everything I've said.) With most employers, your school and major matter greatly. Interivews can make a significant difference, as Ashleigh pointed out, but I would imagine those cases are few and far between.

    Regardless of your major, with an undergrad degree, you are likely to start at the bottom of the corporate ladder anyway. It's work experience that gets you farther --not your major. But it's your major that gets your foot in the door, and if you cant get your foot in the door, why spend thousands of dollars (in US it's usually around $20,000 - $40,000 per year) getting your degree anyway?
     
  15. arron89
    Offline

    arron89 Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    2,460
    Likes Received:
    91
    Location:
    Auckland
    In NZ, we have what are called Conjoint Degrees...basically you add one year on to your degree and you can get two degrees, which means a lot of people do things like LLB/BA orBCom/BA so that they have a wider range of knowledge and skills when they leave university (Double Majoring here just means studing two different areas at equal depth in one degree, instead of just one area). But here, I guess its a little different to America...if you take something like English Lit, you will be encouraged (financially) to continue studying post-grad, offered jobs as tutors, reseach assistants, and when you reach a high enough qalification, a lecturing job (provided your area of study isn't already covered by someone else). If you choose to do the teaching route instead, its just one year after your BA to get a post graduate diploma in hig school teaching and then you can teach your major up to high school level (most high school teachers have a Masters in their field though). And if you abandon the English route altogether (saying nothing for the jobs in TV, radio, film, journalism, copy-writing, advertising, publishing) you will still be a good candidate for sales jobs, marketing, retail, management, etc. Here, there isn't an all-consuming focus on money, the emphasis from high school onwards is do what you're passionate about. Nevertheless, a lot of people do still do the Law and Medicine routes...the typical intake per year for Law students is about 700 people (Law is an undergrad degree here), but the number who progress through to second year is only 150~200, which shows that a lot of people get to uni with these ideas about going into a financially-motivated career, get to uni and change their minds, which is why you then have a lot of people taking arts and sciences, which offer less definite employment opportunities but are ultimately more rewarding (for some people).

    Also, uni is really cheap here, in fact there's one university where the government pays for your degree entirely, and we have interest free student loans (not that your degree will be anything above $50k, and that would be for Law or something long like that....a BA will be under $30k...which converts to what? a bit over US$15k?).

    So yeah, y'all should move to NZ. Auckland is apparently the 5th best city in the world to live in. :)
     
  16. Carmina
    Offline

    Carmina Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2008
    Messages:
    3,909
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    Woodland California
    I got my BA in English Lit. It has done nothing for me professionally since I realized I wasn't cut out ot be an English teacher. I really enjoyed earning that degree, but I don't find it lends itself to the business world all that much. It shows you got a degree. That alone puts you above some candidates. it really depends on what you want to do after school. I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Englsih Lit. I work as a church secretary. I sometimes wonder how this happened. But, I know I would have been miserable as a business major. So, I stand by my decision.
     
  17. Ashleigh
    Offline

    Ashleigh Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2008
    Messages:
    4,186
    Likes Received:
    143
    Location:
    In the comfort of my stubborn little mind.
    Having seen peoples suggestions about careers and such, I'm left with this question: Why oh why, would somebody who wants to be head of a technology company, a lawyer or a doctor, be taking English literature?

    Of course literature won't get you those jobs. Those are specialist areas that require specialist knowledge from specialist subjects. It'd be silly to even think that you could go into a lit degree and come out with the goods to go into one of those careers - come on, If somebody wants to take English lit then I seriously doubt that they were hoping to go into some completely unrelated specialist field, such as the NHS for example. Unless they were stupid.


    Literature will get you far in the literature/creative world. It will also do you good when applying for standard jobs, if you find yourself wanting to sway from that area. But no, of course you can't have a Job that requires specialist knowledge from a Literature degree. That'd be like....turning up at a banking firm with a degree in Music. It's got no relevance - you'd still be without knowledge in that area and would still be untrained. The degree is impressive, but it won't help anyone there. I know what I'm saying sounds obvious, but you really need to be doing English lit if thats where your heart is. Because if it is, then you will find a career in or around that field of expertese (sp?) that makes you happy. Otherwise, why take it?


    (I think all of the above sounds a bit fiery, but I don't mean it to sound like that-sorry if it sounds a bit harsh. It's been a long day, lol. I'm basically trying to say, follow your heart - if you love English Lit, then go for it, because I really doubt that you'd have wanted to be in a big tech firm or something involving business if you've been wanting to take English. It wouldn't make sense)
     
  18. Little Miss Edi
    Offline

    Little Miss Edi Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    214
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    South East, England
    Sadly though the money you pay back won't cover the interest on your loan each month thus it increases and increases til it's almost (and sadly this is my experience) a 3rd bigger then it should be <-- no dirty quips people :p

    I've got a BA in English. I got it from a good red brick university. Got a good grade. Got a good GPA. I'd make a rubbish school teacher. It really doesn't mean a great deal. So I've got a degree, so what, so has everyone else.

    If you want to be a writer then write. If you want to study literature do it because you love it and for no other reason. If you want a little job security (just speaking from the UK here) do a science.

    Seriously -- I wish I'd done physics.
     
  19. Liquid Nature
    Offline

    Liquid Nature Member

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2009
    Messages:
    48
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Over there
    I'm 17, and am in the same situation as the OP. I have an intense passion for Literature, and is really the only thing that I would be satisfied doing. I've heard a variety of views on this topic, but in the end, they all point in the same directions.

    For me, it basically comes down either majoring in Lit, and like some have said before - not really having a quality career to fall back on - or, take a different major with money as a motive and consequently end up dissatisfied. Though, if I had to choose a secondary career, Physics is a field I am definently interested in.

    I understand making enough money to be able to afford necessities and having a sustainable occupation though. It's arguable that the best decision would be to find a good job, and write on the side. What is wrong with Journalism/Film/Screen-writing anyways?

    That being said, will someone answer why income is the main focus of so many people? Money cannot buy happiness, and that is something that I have witnessed first-hand.
     
  20. arron89
    Offline

    arron89 Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    2,460
    Likes Received:
    91
    Location:
    Auckland
    People don't want happiness, they want things.
    Well, really, they don't know what they want, but those shoes look good and a bigger tv would be nice, and let's go on holiday and have cosmetic surgery and eat at Michelin three-starred restaurants...

    Money doesn't buy happiness, but it makes it hard not to be happy.
     

Share This Page