Friday 4 March 2011

Why I love my BA in English

I have had quite a lot of time over the last few months to scorn and hate my degree, for not being 'practical' or 'job getting' enough. Now, I've had enough of thinking like that, and it's time to admit that I love my degree- not for anything practical that it has done for me, but because of the subtle ways it has changed me, and made me think differently about the world and what my role in it should be. Far from just reading books for 3 years, it has taught me a lot about culture, society, and the bigger more important things in life, rather than how much money one earns- why we are here, what we should do with our time, what is the best way to live. You know, just little things like that. It has also allowed me to think more creatively about things, and I think that I can get the very best out of books now, in that I can think about them deeper than the story itself goes.

I found myself doing this last night, and it surprised me and pleased me all at the same time, as I considered how much I'd really learnt at University. I was reading Anna Karenina (as I am wont to do, these days) and, without giving too much away, this relatively irritating character was in a horse race which he eventually lost by accidentally killing the horse (yeah, it wasn't too pleasant!) As I was reading, I was kind of perplexed by what Tolstoy was trying to do, by literally just telling me about this horse race. When I thought about it a little bit deeper though, I found at least 5 different options of what he could be doing with this chapter, and the sheer amount of options I was able to think of really made me happy and kind of a little impressed with myself- If I put my mind to it, I can think really deeply into things, and consider them properly, and some up with the best solution (in this case, I consider that the character is so unused to losing, that having to do so in this instance is damaging to him personally, so much so that he is unable to cope with even the memory of it). If that isn't an employable skill, then I don't know what is!

So, yes. I didn't take the most employable degree in the world, but I had a lot more fun learning than someone who took, say, a management degree (this awful girl I lived with in the first year), and I think it has given me hidden skills that I'm not even fully aware of yet! I guess what I'm trying to say here is this- don't ever let anyone tell you that your English, or even just Humanities, degree isn't worth anything; and never let anyone talk you out of doing exactly what you want to do at University, even if it won't make you the most employable person in the world. You have to do what makes you happy, and if that's reading (which, if you're reading my blog, it probably is) then you should be allowed the opportunity to explore that to the furthest possible reaches, without feeling guilty or worthless because it doesn't give you straightforward employability skills. Because, what it does give you, is so much better than that- knowing that you haven't wasted three years of your life on something tedious, but in fact have spent them enriching your mind and yourself.

Then again, Avenue Q are never wrong...


  1. When I earned my undergrad in Lit I just figured someone would eventually hire me because I could speak and write. LOL. Right out of college I got hired on as an editor for a small private country club (their newsletter) and banquet/wedding coordinator. It was enough for me to figure out what to do next career wise (which ironically turned into a quick stint as a career counselor). 'Nuff said. There's plenty out there.

  2. That sounds pretty cool- I was just in a bit of a mood yesterday, and didn't want to feel bad about my degree anymore, because I did love it! But thanks for the hope!!