Guest Writer: McKenzie Marsh
Conan O’Brien, Mitt Romney, Emma Watson, Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Thurgood Marshall, Steven Spielberg, James Franco, Empress Michiko of Japan and Ben Shapiro. What do all of these names have in common? That’s right, they were all English majors.
All students, regardless of major and intended career path, need to know how to write and how to write well. Any field of study could be better augmented with an English or writing minor as a strategic decision in order to produce a valuable skill set to leave college with.
People need to see the value in honing the writing craft, to come into a confidence as an articulate voice, resulting in brilliant communicators, critical thinkers and valuable distinction from colleagues in any career.
Society highly values liberal arts without actually valuing liberal arts majors, seeing them as non-viable careers paths after college. At least with a liberal arts major, there is a level of expertise acquired from the study.
Imagine what would happen to a variety of careers if more people knew how to write for content, delivery and mechanics.
The liberal arts curriculum here at Anderson requires writing intensive courses to graduate—a whopping two courses beyond basic, introductory English. These classes don’t even have to be English courses, just classes that require a few more essays here and there than the average class, not courses designated to improve a student’s writing ability.
Critical thought and ability to represent oneself is essential to success, and that aspect of curriculum needs to be developed and valued because it is necessary in the real world.
It could be argued that an English or writing major is the most versatile and most applicable major choice to be marketable after college.
For those pursuing a graduate degree in audiology, an English major is the most valued undergraduate degree to be accepted to the program. It is the same with law: English majors are the second most likely major to attend law school.
Employers want to hire critical thinkers and people who can communicate effectively. Aside from the obvious jobs for the English or writing major post-undergrad, such as teaching, editing and publishing, English majors find themselves in jobs such as marketing, sales and law. Many companies want to hire writers instead of marketing or business majors to run their social media and blogs. A writer is more equipped to get ideas across, rather than just selling a brand.
Some majors, such as nursing and accounting, could be considered terminal degrees with positions waiting to be filled post-graduation. These career majors are often recruited by employers. While there is not that same job security for the English major, that does not mean the English major is doomed to be working at your local Panera Bread.
English majors have the same opportunity for the jobs oriented at their field and beyond their field; they just have to search for them because of the diversity of the opportunity. In order to be a good writer and an informed contributor to society, it is important to be familiar with and understand good writing.
Everybody should have a little literature in their life. Studies show that people who read literature are more empathetic to the human condition and the individual struggle, which is why many English majors make great leaders for political and social change.
Billionaire Mark Cuban predicts there will be a much greater demand for liberal arts majors in the coming decade. Those with the ability to truly analyze, think critically and innovate creatively will be the most successful.
As Margaret Atwood says: “A word after a word after a word is power.”
More people should experience the possibility of literature and writing: making themselves more marketable, more understood, and more connected with the human condition, past, present and future.
McKenzie is a senior English major from Plainfield, Indiana.