I have to admit, there is more than a little irony in a former English major writing as essay which analyzes whether or not being an English major makes one overly analytical. I suspect that it’s questions like this that create rips in the very fabric of of the space-time continuum. Or at the very least, it’s what leads to all sorts of modern vices, like watching too much American Idol. But does being an English major really make a person too analytical? Really?
Let’s take a look at what an English major really does and really learns in college. Contrary to popular belief, English majors DON’T learn grammar – or spelling. As a general rule, it’s assumed that those topics have been covered before you got to college. Sadly, this is not always the case.
Instead, the typical English major spends a good deal of his or her day reading. There really is not end to the reading. At my peak, I was devouring books at a rate that would qualify me for a spot on “The Biggest Looser: Literary Edition”. Oh what my back would have given for an Amazon Kindle back then – those books get heavy.
When an English major isn’t reading, there’s always writing to be done. Lots and lots of writing. In fact, if you read something, it’s almost assured that you’re going to have to analyze what you’ve read. Deconstructing literary works is to an English major what chasing rabbits is to a dachshund. And you’re always trying to find new and creative metaphors for what you’re doing, especially when trying to justify the cost of tuition to your parents.
After being out of my undergrad years for a while, I was able to gain some good insight into what an English major can provide. I ultimately ended up in Medical School – about the only place where the amount of reading actually increases. The volume of reading in Medical School is many factors of ten beyond that of an English Degree. After your first DAY in Medical School, you’re 400 pages behind in your reading assignments. And it goes downhill from there.
But in the end, the skills you gain as an English major are very applicable. Basic reading and writing skills are sadly not as advanced as you’d expect them to be today. Learning to read something and analyze what you have read is a great skill to have, regardless of whether you are a doctor, a plumber, an accountant, or anything in between. When it comes to a profession, you can never be overly analytical in your work. Of course, you have to know when to turn it off, as you are at risk for becoming a crashing bore at parties.