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Friday, April 19, 2024

English classes can be fulfilling for any major 

Learning to be clear and concise will help you in your daily life

By OWEN RUDERMAN — opinion@theaggie.org


It’s no secret that the humanities are being deprioritized by the workforce and, consequently, by students. The end of 2021 marked the eighth consecutive year that the number of college graduates with degrees in the humanities has declined. STEM fields like computer science, on the other hand, have grown tremendously. According to one study, computer science bachelor’s degrees rose by 74% between 2009 and 2015, compared to a 16% growth rate across other fields.

However, even though the job market seems to be prioritizing STEM-related fields, that doesn’t mean that other majors are useless. The skills I’ve learned as an English major, for example, have helped me tremendously in my daily and professional life — it turns out that being able to critically think through an argument and then synthesize a coherent response is a useful skill. 

I strongly believe that a well-rounded curriculum makes for a well-rounded person. That’s why I recommend that students take English classes regardless of their major. After all, no matter what career you secure after school, having to write professionally is inevitable. 

For example, many companies may require you to fill out paperwork or draft memos. At the very least, you’ll be sending emails or using something like Slack to communicate with coworkers. Learning how to properly express yourself and present information through the written word is an invaluable skill in these situations.

Because skills like these are so universally important, taking an English class is never a waste of time. You will be able to take these skills and apply them in a number of different situations, including your daily life. For example, after learning to write clearly, your emails to professors will become more persuasive and writing a synopsis of a lab report, for example, might get easier.

Now, I know that you’re probably thinking something like, “This guy’s an English major, of course he’s going to tell me to take these classes.” But I actually started my college career as a computer science major, and I’ve taken a variety of STEM courses in my time. I can confidently tell you that the skills you gain from an English class are beneficial to any career.

But don’t take my word for it. According to Yale University, experience in English gives you “tools that never lose value,” “the ability to write intelligently, beautifully, and persuasively” and “the potential to become a holistic person,” to name a few.

It seems like, in many cases, skills in English are falling to the wayside. Humanities and liberal arts are being deprioritized in favor of majors that promise bigger paychecks. But the truth is that universal skills, like proficiency in writing, are always going to be useful. It’s important to use your time in college to mold yourself into a well-rounded and capable person.

After all, who do you think is going to get the job; the person who has the slightly more impressive grades in school but composes the worst emails of all time, or the person who has decent grades but crafts the most persuasive job application of the decade? Trust me when I tell you that it’s the latter.

Written by: Owen Ruderman — opinion@theaggie.org


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.