10 Reasons Every College Student Should Take An English Class

It’s ever so daunting on paper and/or screen: English ### with Dr. So-And-So. How could anyone love to read and write so much that he or she pursued a terminal degree in it? You struggle through ten pages of reading on a daily basis—several chapters assigned regularly seems impossible.
You didn’t know medieval literature was a thing nor did you know that there is a difference between British and American Romanticism. You certainly can’t fathom the value of Victorian literature prior to your English class. How can studying literature benefit your future in any way?
Well, you’d be surprised.

1. You learn to manage your time effectively.

It doesn’t take long to learn (usually by a horrific trial-and-error) that you absolutely cannot skip a night of reading for English. You’ll need to cancel plans and block out serious amounts of time in your schedule to make sure you read through and understand that day’s assigned texts thoroughly. I’m sorry, but you cannot read through Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness ten minutes before class—no matter how thin the book actually is.

2. You learn how to read—no, actually read.

Anyone can zip through a textbook and pretend that she or he read. But a book for English? You’re treading dangerous waters. There’s no time for dodging questions or humming and hawing in front of your professor. A big page of text will no longer be frightening to you, but a pleasant mystery to unravel and understand. You’ll be picking out minute details and remembering them for days. Why do you remember some odd quote from Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon? English class.

3. You learn how to write.

No, submitting 15 pages where you repeat the same idea over and over again won’t fly with your English professor. You’re dealing with the king or queen of the written word—anything you try, he or she has seen thousands of times before. Your professor won’t be kind to you when it comes to writing, but suddenly (after immense berating and writing workshops) you’ll be sounding like a true academic, synthesizing your once-15 page, fluffed up papers, to a dense, unique seven page paper. You’ll thank them for your sleepless nights stuck in the library when you get an ‘A’ in all of your classes.

4. Your vocabulary expands tenfold.

When your peers are fumbling over every word in the English dictionary to describe something as simply “showy,” you can whip out “ostentatious” effortlessly. Why waste your breath over meaningless, filler words when you can succinctly get your point across in one adjective? While your fellow students continue to verbally trip over themselves in conversation, you now have extra time to write the 17,000 papers Dr. So-And-So wants you to write.

5. You learn new languages.

The English language did not start out sounding how we speak it today. I’m sure you’ve all read Shakespeare and had your mind blown by the complexity of the language. But, guess what! That’s not even the beginning. Old English? Middle English? You’ll come across it all in your English class.
You thought Dubliners by James Joyce was hard? Pick up a copy of an untranslated The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer.

6. English majors are cool.

If you are desperately seeking a new crowd of people to hang around on campus, look no further than your English class. If your friends are lazy and fair-weathered, you’ll find your new best friend for life sitting next to you in English. Not only are we good for late-night writing sessions and the ever-frequent “which literary movement was best” debate, we’ve got loads of weird interests (we did choose to study literature for four years, after all) and are always down for a drink (couldn’t hurt, could it?).

7. Your professor will become your role model.

Despite the fact that you can’t quite figure out why your professor specializes in what he or she does, you will come to respect them in every aspect of the word. You will want to be their protégé come the first month. You’re not sure why, but there is something amazing about being able to type out a chapter on a literary movement no matter where you are. You’ll even consider pursuing a Ph.D. in English.

8. You’ll see what you’re really capable of.

You’ll never know true horror until you’re sitting in the infamous English class circle and your professor is telling you what will be on the final exam. Three essays in a two hour time frame? You must be joking. Dr. So-And-So seems immune to your cries for help and whining. But, when you whip out three spectacular papers and fit them all into one blue book on the exam day? You’ll feel like nothing less than superhuman.

9. You gain a confidence you never thought possible.

You’ve got the vocabulary, the writing, and reading skills. After your English class, any other course you take will become a piece of cake. You can do it all, jobs, classes, club positions—there’s nothing that your new professor or boss can throw at you that will scare you.
Unless it’s calculus. Always be afraid of calculus.

10. You gain academic bragging rights.

Yes, you have read The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri in full. Yes, you know who the Wordsworths are, but you find them a bit unnerving. Yes, you know of Shakespeare, but have you heard of his contemporary, Christopher Marlowe? How many people on your campus can say that?
In short, you can now officially go home to Mom and Dad and tell them that you learned something worthwhile in college. Now, the obvious next step is to declare your English major!

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