“English is the BEST major,” Maria Lima screams in her Brazilian accent.

I recently came into a quarter-life crisis. All my years, I have been set on medical school, and expected to become a doctor. But, I simply cannot see myself as such. I do find surgery and health very fascinating, but that’s not where my skills lie. The key to finding the perfect job is matching your passion to your skills. My passions are reading, writing, counseling, and logic. My skills are just the same… in my opinion, these attributes carry more closely to the profession of a lawyer, editor, researcher, or something alike. 

I don’t think I am ‘naturally smart.’ I think that I work incredibly hard with a good basis for common sense and logical thinking. I can study and study and study for a biology test, and get a good grade on it. But the grade it not what’s important (even though it is certainly reflective). Instead, I am looking for the education, and skill base to gain. In biology classes I was taking for my major, I felt as though I wasn’t gaining anything from it–I was too focused on the grade and doing well, rather than actually developing as a student and person. After I took a test on a specific chapter, I automatically just forgot all of the things I just learned because the test was ‘over’. I didn’t like this about the structure of this major, and my relationship to it. There are kids who LOVE biology and it naturally comes to them. Those students are the doctors of the future, and I don’t think that’s me. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that anyone can do and be and create anything they choose. But personally, I don’t think it is worth dedicating my time, money, and resources to something that I don’t think I am 100% invested in.

With this, I went to Maria: my crazy, lovely, beautiful adviser. For those who don’t know her, do so immediately. In my quarter-life crisis, she set me straight. “English is the best major, you know…” English creates a skill set, and abilities that many students (and adults) do not possess. The ability to read, write, research, create, think, logically explain and argue, communicate, and so many other attributes. This makes you a free agent. On a pre-medical track you WILL get into medical school with this major. On a pre-law track you WILL get into law school with this major. The student who is an English major doesn’t do it for the grade, they do it for the experience, and for the skills. 

One of my biggest pet peeves is when students go to college ‘for a job’. You are not paying to come here for a job, you are paying for an education, make it count. Don’t think that you need to be a fancy, prestigious major to accomplish big things. When students are forced down this cookie-cutter path and structure, they miss their chance to do anything worthwhile. As an English and Biology double major, I didn’t have time to do research, study abroad, nor TA/SI. Which were all things I was offered, and had to turn down because I didn’t have the time to dedicate. This was ridiculous to me, and sparked my choice to alter my plan. 

For students who think they need their major to define their future, I always tell them the story of my parents. Both first-generation Italians. They went to college–my mother was an English major, while my father was a History major. They invested themselves in these topics because they ENJOYED them. They paid for the education they wanted, not the one they thought they needed to succeed. They did it for the experience, the skills, and the enjoyment of themselves in their studies, they then both attended law school where they met and fell in love… very cute story if you’d ever care to hear it, let me know. Now, they built up their own ‘Merante and Merante Law Firm’. Your major doesn’t matter for the job, your major matters for the skills you will harness. You will then build with that what you choose…. whether it be a small business or an empire: do what you want, not what the system is forcing you into. 

Recently, in addition to Maria’s advice, I spoke to Dr. T, a Biology adviser and professor of mine. She asked me what my major was, and I said English. She said “Perfect, I hate Bio majors”. She then proceeded to talk about medical school, and how if you want to get in, don’t be a Biology major. Pre-med students often take the biology path because it makes the most sense, but in reality, everyone applying to medical school is going to be a smart, 4.0 biology kid… wouldn’t you want to be something different? After my research, the top majors to get into medical (and law) school is Anthropology, English, Math, and Physics. This is because these matriculates did it for the critical thinking, and the skills out of these majors. While applying to medical school, they killed it on their MCATs (which is all critical thinking, analyzing, and interpretation based science questions) and interviews (which requires the personable skill to communicate) since they studied for the knowledge, not for the GPA. 

Now, of course everything I say is my opinion, and I’m sure there are some great arguments against my stance. But this is firmly what I believe, and because of that–I must practice what I preach:

Julia Merante, Major in English with a Creative Writing concentration, double minor in Human Development and Biology. Plans: Law School, MFA, Research.

This major and these minors hold classes I actually WANT to take. And I am so excited to start.

This is subject to change, nothing is set in stone, but I believe that being a lawyer is where my skills and passions most closely align with. I think I would enjoy this job, and be pretty damn good at it. 

 

Jules

3 Replies to ““English is the BEST major,” Maria Lima screams in her Brazilian accent.”

  1. Snaps to Maria and Dr. T. My philosophy teacher said the same thing- he would always say that we should go to school and college for our own education, not to get grades. Grades, he said, don’t really matter as long as you learn, but did matter as an arbitrary measure by which we gauge someone’s ability to excel in a hyper-specific environment. He went on in that English was the most important tool in daily life. He elaborated by saying that even low-paying jobs require an incredible amount of reading comprehension, and that it’s necessary to communicate and thrive with other people. By this, he meant English not as the literature we ascribe to it, but all language.

  2. Yes! A major doesn’t define your path! And the skills you acquire are the end goal, not the grades! Woo!

    (Granted, grad school is not in my near future, so I can say “fuck grades” pretty easily).

    Honestly, majors are limiting. I’m a Psych major (default after Gen Chem 2 kicked my arse), and I didn’t like half of the classes I took for it. If I could do it again, I’d take a bunch of Anth and Soc classes along with the English classes, and audit microbio or something. Geez, I wish I could’ve taken everything I wanted without having to worry about getting certain types of credits…

  3. I agree that the we often get too caught up in our grades and their future implications. I often have to remind myself (and my friends) that we are hear to learn. If we were expected to be perfect in every course, what’s the point of going to college and learning?
    I think that some of the most interesting academic pursuits I have chased after I did for reasons other than GPA-boosting. I LOVE courses that integrate different subjects, oftentimes we get too caught up in our own major to appreciate the overlap between subjects. We can also learn a lot from other majors/departments.
    I think you have a great outlook on education!

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