Grad School: Is it for You?–The Plan of Study

I have no problem admitting that I’m kind of a nerd. So you can judge me all you want when I tell you that in college, I graduated with almost double the required number of 200-level English credits. I like to joke that I double-majored in English and English. Har har har.
I really enjoyed my major in college, which is why I couldn’t not sign up for classes like “Literature Goes to Hell,” a survey of literature prominently featuring the devil; or “Representations of Italians in American Cinema,” a class in which we watched movies like The Godfather, Reservoir Dogs, and Goodfellas, and then analyzed the crap out of them.
Almost every semester, there was some funky English class that I just had to take. So, when I was finally finished with the classes I actually needed, I figured that moving on to grad school would mean I could take even more unique classes, while expanding my resume.
Two years later, I earned a Masters degree, having taken four literature classes. FOUR. And only two of those classes I actually liked. What the hell did I do in grad school? I took “The Art of the Bibliography,” that’s what. And two critical theory classes, and two classes on teaching and pedagogy. If I had any intentions of being a teacher, that would be great. But when I went into grad school, I was under the impression that English is a versatile field– English majors can succeed in almost any field, from journalism to marketing to politics, with our skills–but I soon found myself feeling pigeon holed.
Of course, I wasn’t like most graduate students; 99% of my peers were going to move on to PhD’s. Still, only taking four lit classes in grad school doesn’t seem like a good start to a PhD program. In college, I wrote dozens of papers, a pool out of which I was able to select a writing sample for grad school. If I was applying to a PhD program, I would have four graduate-level papers to choose from. For this reason, I am disappointed in my degree.
I know that most people reading this article are probably not in the English field. Still, I think it’s important for people of all majors to look into the plan of study of a Masters program and consider what you will get out of your degree. Look at sample plans of study and current course catalogs to determine whether you will benefit from the hundreds of hours of studying (not to mention MONEY) you will put into that degree. Ask yourself what skills you hope to walk away from grad school with, and whether the required courses will provide you with those skills.
Sure, I aced “The Art of the Bibliography”….but what am I going to do with THAT?

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