How to Survive Being an English Major: Some Unsolicited Advice

By: Jordin Connall

Step 1: Accept that tears are part of the gig for any college student and buy stock in Kleenex while you can. Similarly, accept that at some point(s) in your English career you will need to sit by and pretend to study while your table-mate quietly sobs, it is imperative that you stay cool and for the love of all that is holy never mention this occurrence upon seeing them again.

Step 2: Switch arms please, the Norton is heavy. No one wants to see a hundred pound waif-like sophomore with one arm like a toothpick and the other the width of a goal post. I also suggest something more suitable than a book-bag for day-to-day readings, perhaps a children’s wagon, or maybe even a miniature plow horse? Think about it.

Step 3: Realize that the Norton can be used for a number of different things, some of which include: a step stool, a paper weight, backpack theft-deterrent [see suggestion 2], a pillow if you don’t mind being uncomfortable, substitute for a Kevlar vest, and if you’re absolutely desperate. . .reading material.


 Step 4: Go to the book sales, BBQs, and whiffle ball games, to name a few. I know it’s a lot to ask when season five of Sherlock has just aired (Speaking to you Class of 2020), and the most sentient beings you intended to speak to were your laptop and that latte you’ve been stroking lovingly like a newborn baby, but trust me the outside can be fun sometimes. I personally didn’t go to any of these events until my Junior year, and I missed out on meeting an entirely new group of nerd friends (Nriends? Ferds? I’m working on it). Professors will be at these gatherings too, giving you a chance to meet them outside of class and see them change from scary scholarly folks into people that will help you grow and transform in your academic career. Plus you can find out if it’s true that Doug drains the blood of a randomly selected freshman in a Viking ritual sacrifice (don’t worry I won’t ruin the surprise, you’ll have to go to find out for yourself).

Step 5: Never stop reading, even in the summer. Despite how appealing sleep may sound, and trust me it’s not all that your non-collegiate housemates try and claim it is, read all the time. Read, read, read, read. “It will make you a better writer and a better person,” (A Really Credible Source, Wikipedia) reading has the sole ability to transform your grammar and communication skills all without seeming heavy-handed. Read for the rest of your life, and then after that read to other ghosts (pro tip: ghosts seem to really love Poe).

Step 6: This is going to be a doozie, but bare with me. Relax. I know it sounds irritatingly simple and prosaic, but really, take a chill pill. Every time you are about to panic about that really long paper that is due in exactly seven hours, take a deep breath and relax. You will not remember this paper in five years, five hours, minutes, whatever. Don’t slack off and forget your responsibilities in some made-for-TV-movie depiction of college, but realize that your life is defined by so many other things than that one paper or that one class.


Step 6: Look over everything before you turn it in. It’s astounding the dumb mistakes people make and don’t correct before turning them in, even for really important papers that everyone will get to see. Some people, I tell ya.

Step 7: Come up with snappy responses as to your chosen career for well-intentioned family members ahead of time. These will come in handy around any major holiday. Examples include: homelessness, a professional clown, beat boxing, correcting grammatical errors in the YouTube comments section, or becoming a teacher.

Step 8: But most of all, give yourself a pat on the back for choosing the area of study superior to all others (like anyone uses math anymore right?). English is the area of study that connects us to one another and the world. We are the group of people that can read something and glean meaning from it. This power is fundamental to what makes us human, our ability to communicate with one another in complex and constantly evolving ways. John 1:1 tells us that in the beginning there was the word. Take your words and change the world.

Jordin Connall is a Senior English Major. Her hobbies include: long walks on the beach, making baked goods, taking long walks on the beach with baked goods, and interpretive macaroni art.

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