On The Trinity Perspective, you will find those answers—or at least someone who asked the same questions. We have been in your shoes. The Trinity Perspective collects advice and stories from current students, parents, faculty, and alumni to share with you—prospective students, families, and the Trinity community.

Everyone Should Major in English

By Mariah Wahl
Mariah Wahl '16
English Major & Perspective Editor

College is a difficult transitional period. All of the sudden, it seems you have to decide who you want to be and what you want to do for the rest of your life. As registration for next semester classes approaches, these anxieties feel especially prominent. If you're a first year, a sophomore, or a particularly indecisive junior, it may also be time to consider declaring a major. But never fear!

The Perspective has written articles about how to choose your major, how to be a double major, and how to turn that major into a job. Our contributors have offered up the impartial analysis, and I'm here to offer up my frank, honest opinion:

Major in English.

Okay, it doesn't have to be English exactly (although in my unbiased opinion, it's the best major out there). Any degree in the humanities is acceptable. Just in case you still need convincing, here are three reasons of many hundred that I can offer you for pursuing a liberal arts degree.

1. You'll learn something about yourself and the world around you

So often in my English classes, something inside me clicks and I think, "That's it! That's why I'm on this planet!" College is one of the few times in your life when you're allowed, and even encouraged, to devote most of your time to learning about and bettering yourself. The humanities are so named because they encourage you to understand your place within the larger scope of humanity. 

The things I read in literature classes resonate with me more often than not, and it's not because I'm overly sentimental. I find that my friends are deeply touched and shaped by the things they study in liberal arts classes, as well. If college is a time for self-discovery, the humanities will help you discover more than you ever thought you could.

Piles of reading can be as rewarding as they are laborious.
2. Money is NOT the most important aspect of your degree...
Let's be practical: college is expensive and it feels like your major has dollar signs attached. The humanities are frequently listed as the lowest earning majors out there. So even if I love English and the humanities, isn't it risky to pursue something that won't pay off my student loans?

The truth is that the riskiest bet is to study something you don't like in a field you don't want to work in, hoping that you can make enough money to buy yourself time to enjoy your life later. You might retire at the age of fifty , but will you have the energy and freedom to pursue the things that really spark your passion? Will you still have those passions after decades of setting them aside? Your future health and time are not guaranteed. It seems illogical to wait until "then-" whenever "then" is- to enjoy your vocation. I'm studying something I enjoy now to find a career that I enjoy later. It seems to me the only way to craft a life you'd actually like to be living.

Don't let money keep you from pursuing a major you love. 

3. ...But humanities majors are some of the most employable graduates in the new millennium.

Every day, new innovations in technology create job opportunities that didn't exist five years ago. Any training in a specific field runs the risk of becoming outdated just as quickly as its taught to new students. This is where the liberal arts have the advantage. Students in the humanities don't just learn the skills and information necessary to pursue a specific career path; they learn how to acquire and develop new skills quickly, how to interpret and absorb new information. In short, they learn how to learn. Don't just take my word for it-- Forbes recently shared an article on the importance of the liberal arts in the tech industry.

Written and verbal communication skills are consistently listed as a top requirement for employers in every field. The ability to problem-solve and craft a convincing argument follow close behind. These are the primary skills that liberal arts students develop through countless hours of writing and constructing arguments on a variety of topics. Just think: If I can successfully craft an argument about minute textual differences in different manuscripts of The Canterbury Tales (Thanks, Dr. Kraebel), is there any area in which I can't construct a convincing argument with enough time and research? I think not.

We need engineers, we need doctors, we need accountants. But don't forget that we also need English majors, history majors, religion majors, German majors, etc. If the humanities are something you love, you should pursue them. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

About Mariah 
Mariah Wahl is a senior at Trinity University, studying English and women's and gender studies. She is the editor of the Trinity Perspective as well as the Trinity Experiential Learning Blog. In her free time, Mariah enjoys running and being outdoors. Currently, she is training for her second half-marathon. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau sorority.  


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