STUDENT LIFE / FEB. 18, 2014
version 7, draft 7

What Do You Really Do With a Degree in English?

Contrary to popular belief, an English degree is more useful than you think.

Why would I say such a thing in the midst of a dire economy? Well, here’s why. The beauty of a liberal arts degree is in its ability to open endless doors. With a liberal arts degree, you can go into most fields as long as you have the right set of skills, acquired experience, and network.

An English degree gives students a solid foundation in the way they perceive the world. This is the most important part of a person’s development. Education in literature, storytelling, and general humanities helps English majors pursue various careers with a narrative-based perspective. An English major’s exposure to literary ideas churns them into professionals with greater creativity, wit, and communicative ability – all of which have never been more important in our ever-changing world.

But what can you really do with a degree in English? Well, most anything you want.

Here are a few examples of successful individuals who smartly used their English degrees to their advantage. Take a cue from them and you will see that not every English major ends up becoming a teacher or fast food worker.

Rather, you can be…

A Fashion Designer, Like the Rodarte Sisters

The Rodarte sisters are a two-part duo made up of Laura Mulleavy, who majored in English literature, and Kate Mulleavy, who majored in Art History, at the University of California, Berkeley. Regardless of their degrees, both sisters became two of the most influential fashion designers of the decade. After finishing their studies, Kate and Laura saved up money and started designing and sewing their own collection. Kate told Paper Magazine in 2011, “I feel like I wouldn’t be making the things I make or have the creative process I do today if I hadn’t had the education that I had. It formed my understanding of how complex ideas can be.”

An Actress, Like Anne Hathaway

Anne is an Academy-Award-winning actress who studied English during her time at university. Undoubtedly, English is a close cousin to Theatre as both subjects revolve around telling narratives, conveying emotions, and communicating general themes. As an actress, Anne constantly brings characters in both literature and film to life, requiring her to understand her roles literarily and contextually.

A Talk-Show Host, Like Conan O’Brien

Conan is one of the most popular talk show hosts and comedian writers in the U.S. The fact that he acquired degrees in history and literature at Harvard University is evident in his witty sense of humor, which has influenced and contributed to American television for over twenty years.

In conclusion, becoming successful is not about what degree you have. It’s about you. It’s about your determination, wit, experiences, and persona. If you have a dream you want to pursue, like becoming a talk show host like Conan or an actress like Anne, it’s all about the steps you take to get there. If you want to study English in college, by all means do it, because you only have a few years of university to study what you love. As long as you have an idea of how you want to reach your end goal, everything will be all right for now. 

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