Every English major’s least favorite question is “What are you going to do with that degree after college, teach?”
I say least favorite because not everyone who decides to be an English major wants to be a teacher, rather most of us don’t. English, at its foundation, is a focus on how to read and write well, how to communicate effectively. Most of the time, the desire to excel in these things comes from a love of reading or writing when we were young. We loved it so much we decided to dedicate four years of our lives to it.
This intense love of reading or writing is the basis for a lot more jobs than people seem to think. While it is true that some English majors do want to be teachers after they graduate, many more would rather stay away from education. A popular pre-law track is English, as it prepares an undergrad student well for law school. Writing papers on novels, poems and short stories requires you to defend your thesis like a lawyer defends their client in court. There has to be evidence of your point in the text and you have to be able to effectively prove that your point holds true.
Likewise, there are managers and people in charge of companies who majored in English for this same reason. English set them up with the skills to be able to succeed in these fields. There are also English majors who do copy-editing, grant writing for professional businesses and nonprofits, and draw up contracts for lawyers. It is vital that these people know how to write effectively, which is at the core of every English department.
English teaches you how to write well, how to get your point across in either a short amount of time or a long one. English is more than teaching, it has always been more than teaching, but because it has no clear end-goal, many people question its validity as a major. There are so many options open to an English major, more than most others, that its’ infinite decisions can seem scary. For some people, it is better to have a clear end-goal for after graduation, and that is fine, they just might not succeed in the English major. A student must be aware that there is a heavy emphasis on practicing those reading and writing skills in the major, but that the professors want you to be able to clearly demonstrate your understanding and ideas throughout the papers you write.
Some people major in English because they love to read and write. English, as a major, sets undergrads up well to succeed in anything, but it also allows them to enjoy their time in college. Plenty of English majors go on to be editors for magazines, publishing companies and newspapers. More go on to do things unrelated to English directly,but the major prepares you for any sort of job because it teaches you how to communicate effectively.