Being an English major is kind of like being an educational entrepreneur. If that comparison’s not immediately obvious, let me explain just a little. When you’re a senior in college and you tell people you’re an English major, they immediately ask what you’re planning to do. The reason they ask, aside from the fact that it’s the polite thing to do, is it isn’t immediately obvious what an English major might do after graduation.
If you tell someone you’re studying Podiatry, they have a pretty good idea what you’re planning to do when you’re done. With an English major it isn’t so obvious. Aside from the one connection everyone assumes but can’t believe you would actually be interested in doing–teaching–all paths are open.
To stick with the podiatry theme, a technical program like that often means signing up for longer structured periods of learning and education. You don’t just take the four years for your bachelors and call it quits. You go to med school and then PHD and residencies and things of that nature. The path is laid out for you and so is the goal.
An English major doesn’t have the same path laid out before them. They have to pick and choose at every turn what step they’re going to take next. The path of a typical entrepreneur is pretty similar to what you might see from an English major. You start in one career and then try something else, and then move on. You’re not structured and you’re not tied into one thing, the opportunity to jump around is always there.
Being an entrepreneur is pretty trendy these days. Everyone seems to have startup fever. But for some reason being an English major isn’t as trendy, even if some entrepreneurs say they’re hiring them. Article after article complains that people are wasting their money on traditional liberal arts degrees when what they really ought to be doing is becoming a doctor or an engineer, the type of career that is “indispensable to society”.
No one seems to praise being an English major as a legitimate choice like being an entrepreneur, and one that takes courage. Since you’re not embracing the beaten path, when you stray out of clear-cut degree to career paths you’re like an entrepreneur stepping off the corporate career path. It takes just as much courage, but gives just as much satisfaction and can be just as rewarding. You can have a richer variety of experiences and even more freedom.
Freedom comes with a price though. Uncertainty. It’s the same price that makes people decide being an English major is too risky. It’s may be risky, and it’s not for everyone. But if you can deal with the uncertainty and you want to, why not?