By Danielle Koons
In his column in the New York Times, As More Attend College, Majors Become More Career-Focused, Nate Silver talks about the value of certain degrees over others.
Namely, the worth of an English degree.
I understand where he is coming from. I, myself, am a previous English Major. I have since switched to getting my BS and am much happier for it. However, I do not regret all the time and energy spent in those writing and reading classes. Judging by the article, that’s pretty much the gist of it. No matter what degree you pursue, English is important. But, instead of making it your major, try to make it your minor. (Unless you are honestly going to be a writer or an editor, of course.)
These days, many people are getting new degrees that didn’t even exist 40 years ago. Criminal Justice degrees were unheard of in the law enforcement jobs of the past, but now almost 3% of all Bachelors degrees are in Criminal Justice.
More degrees seem to be focused on going into a specific career than ever before. Having a mere English degree no longer gets you the job at a library, or as a manager of a company. Now there’s a degree for being a librarian, and you’d need a Business degree to become the manager of a company. And if you want a job in the high paying, fast growing STEM jobs of the future, you need a degree in Science, Technology, Engineering or Math.
While the use of an English degree seems to be waning, the importance of having a solid education in the art of writing is growing. Too many students skip over the ‘useless writing classes’ and find that writing is imperative in every one of their classes. Science majors are required to write scientific reports and dozens of papers on their findings, some over 20 pages long. If you don’t have at least average skills in writing, you’re going to have a bad time. But if you improve your writing skills, you improve your chances for success.
I can’t be the only one who has noticed an embarrassing decline in our youth’s punctuation and spelling. I blame texting.
Just remember this: every single major will require you to have a decent understanding of the English language. The more well read you are, the better you will do in whatever field you go into.
My advice, and the advice of New York Times, is to go into whatever career you want – but don’t forget your English classes. Take one or two writing, reading, or general English literature courses while pursuing your path. (If you don’t want to sit through the boring classes in school, or you already skipped them and need to make them up, take English courses online at StraighterLine.) It’ll make you a better writer, and in turn, better in whatever field you’re going into.
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