Tag Archives: English

What can you do with an English degree?

A couple of months ago, I read a post on literary agent Kristin Nelson’s blog which said that the median salary for a writer in the U.S. is higher than the national average.

It got me thinking about my own English degree, and how clueless I was about career opportunities when I decided to study for it.

Kat and Andie

Two UCLA seniors, clueless about what to do with their degrees

This week I got to see my best friend/college roommate for the first time in three and a half years. Andie’s an ER nurse in Northern California, though when we were at UCLA together she studied Communications and World Arts & Cultures.

Never in a million years could I have seen her going on to nursing school. Like me, she was drawn to classes where answers were subjective and anyone could be right, as long as they argued their point well enough.

For logistical reasons too boring to go into, Andie and I met up in Palo Alto, home of Stanford University, on Wednesday. As Smarty Pants and I waited for her to arrive, we walked around Stanford’s campus. Being book nerds, our two main stops were the library and bookstore.

When we got to the bookstore, I immediately headed downstairs, where the coursebooks are. One of my favorite pastimes as an undergrad at UCLA was browsing all the books set aside for courses I wasn’t taking. I loved seeing what novels different English professors put together in their special topics courses.

As I browsed Stanford’s bookstore, it hit me that Andie and I were seniors exactly ten years ago. This time a decade ago, with only six months left to graduation, I realized I had no idea what I could do with an English degree.

Yes, I’d chosen my major because I wanted to learn about storytelling, but was clueless how to support myself with a storytelling degree.

I panicked a little, but then I explored all my options. I discovered I had a lot more options than the “What’re-you-studying-such-a-useless-subject-for?” science majors led me to believe.

For those of you studying English now, I hope this is helpful.

Option 1: Go to law school

Benjamin Bratt, American actor talks with repo...

Ahh, Benjamin. I nearly chose law school for you. (Image via Wikipedia)

Probably the option my parents would’ve loved, as long as they didn’t have to pay for it.

I started studying for the LSAT (the law school entrance exam), but if I’m honest the only thing drawing me to law school was my addiction to the TV show Law & Order, and the fact I wanted to work with cops as hot as Benjamin Bratt.

I didn’t do very well on the LSAT, so I panicked again.

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Filed under Thoughtfulness, Writer's toolbox