Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel February 12, 2017 - 3:11pm

I went with English and philosophy. It has made a huge difference on how I read literature and write it.

And as for getting a job while I write, my goal is to become either a high school English teacher or a college professor.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal February 13, 2017 - 9:50am

have you looked into what it takes to become a high school, specifically, teacher? around my parts you need an education degree no matter what. i mention just so it doesn't surprise you down the road, but i'm also curious if it's different waaay over where you are.

bethwenn's picture
bethwenn from Milwaukee is reading The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann February 13, 2017 - 4:26pm

Same, Philosophy and English double major. Philosophy teaches you clarity of thought. Invaluable. I learned more about writing from literature classes than anything else. Rhetoric and Narratology are worth their weight in gold. Take any class you can get into that has a heavy focus on closereading, preferrably with a really old school professor who will make you learn fancy Greek words for things. Classes that are more reaction-based in reading strategies and don't ask for much closereading are less useful.

helpfulsnowman's picture
Community Manager
helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman February 13, 2017 - 6:15pm

English and the Library Science.

English was good because you get a lot of time to read and write. Which are the two things you definitely need to be a writer.

However, sometimes I wonder whether the earlier poster is onto something. Getting a degree in something like accounting, which isn't related to writing, can definitely provide a lifestyle that adds for a regular writing schedule.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal February 13, 2017 - 6:21pm

No one's mentioned a different strategy I've heard many authors recommend: something else. Stephen King said specifically not to major in English if you want to be a writer.

If you want to be a sci fi writer, maybe you should major in physics. If you want to write historical fiction, well... history might help. And so on.

So, something to consider.

helpfulsnowman's picture
Community Manager
helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman February 15, 2017 - 7:51pm

It's true. I could definitely be happy without ever reading another book about a writer.

bethwenn's picture
bethwenn from Milwaukee is reading The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann February 15, 2017 - 9:38pm

On an intellectual level I cede your points, but when it comes true beliefs and the advice I'd give my little sister, it would be: Don't do that. If you want to write, study literature. Being an autodidact works too. For people I'm not related to and don't care as much about, I'd not insincerely say, sure, study chemistry instead, I can see how that'd work well etc., and you can just learn on your own time and read what you want. But with my little sister, idk, the impassive, open-minded side falls away and I know my advice would be, you've gotta study literature. It'll change everything for you. I promise.

It's worth saying though for those feeling torn between studying something they want versus something useful: majoring in the arts isn't as pragmatically useless as it's made out to be, and your major isn't only applicable to whatever the major is obviously about. My supposedly useless majors got me a well-paying job at a law firm earlier this year. You've just gotta market your brain and skills the right way. So, it's not all doom and retail gloom if you wanna spend your college years studying Aristotle and Tolkien. It won't mean you'll be a barista until the end of time. Just be smart about building your CV, pulling off good grades, and making connections while you're in school. Make use of your school's Career Services. Talk to your professors. Don't ditch. Participate. It makes a huge difference to your GPA and to the rest of your life. My professor recognized, knew, and liked me. It matters. Those letters of recommendation and personal/academic references matter. So, if you're gonna study what you love instead of what will pay off the most, be a good student. Don't be a privileged little jerkoff for 4 years.

helpfulsnowman's picture
Community Manager
helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman February 15, 2017 - 9:45pm

Yeah, I'm with you on the career angle. I had some advice from a professor once: "Don't go to school to get a job." By which she meant, don't study something because you think it'll lead to a career. Chances are it won't. 

The other point is that if you're going to devote a good chunk of your life to something, it'd better be something you like. 

I think that's the best education advice I've ever gotten. Translated to this discussion, it would be "Don't deny yourself an education in English if you're worried it won't get you a job." And it would also translate to, "Don't be an English major because you think it will get you a specific job, in this case, writer."

 

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal February 15, 2017 - 11:19pm

But with my little sister, idk, the impassive, open-minded side falls away and I know my advice would be, you've gotta study literature. It'll change everything for you. I promise.

I dunno, is this maybe your bias because of what it's done for you? It reminds me of my immediate thought for young men I know- man, you should start lifting weights, it'll change your life. But I recognize that just because I've derived so much value from the activity, that doesn't mean everyone else will.

 

You've just gotta market your brain and skills the right way. ... Don't be a privileged little jerkoff for 4 years.

Holy shit! I think you found the real problem...

 

 

SammyB's picture
SammyB from Las Vegas is reading currently too many to list March 31, 2017 - 11:57am

I wanted to dual major in history and English, but I ended up majoring in Secondary Education with a focus in English. This is not a path I would recommend because teaching takes away nearly all of your free time. Since I began teaching high school English, I have less time to read (unless it's for work) and less time to write (unless it's creating assignments, giving feedback on essays, or writing lesson plans). However, it required a lot of psychology courses. That was beneficial to my writing. I also took ethnic studies, anthropology, American Sign Language, and other beneficial courses that were not related to my major. It helped me expand my world view.