pandalikespoetry asked: What would you say to someone with aspirations to study English at university?
DO IT! But heed some advice:
- You must be prepared to be told you can’t write. I don’t mean fiction, I haven’t taken a single Creative Writing module over the course of my whole degree, but university essays require, in my opinion, an almost entirely new approach to the text, so don’t be terrified if you get a low mark in your first few essays. Don’t be terrified if people glower at you if you got a high mark in your first few essays.
- Most universities (in the UK at least) only give English students about six hours of contact every week, typically 2x 2 hour seminars and 2x 1 hour lectures. Still, do your reading. I’m one of those people who is definitely pro-doing the reading for your modules. Chances are you’re paying a pretty penny for this, so you might as well have all the tools to take part in interesting class discussions (once everyone gets over the first few weeks of awkward silence) and write decent essays.
- Be aware that every minute of your three years reading English, people will tell you there aren’t any jobs in whatever field you want to go into. It’s part and parcel of the degree and I think it’s nonsense, but yeah, whilst they (unnecessarily/excessively, I think) turn you into an panicked creature, your business-school friends will be getting jobs in banking. It’s just not necessarily that sort of degree, you know? Your future employment isn’t pushed on you in the same way it is for other degrees. You too could go into banking, if you like, or you could teach or you could even do what my impressive friend Hannah is doing and take your Chemistry and Biology A Levels at the same time as your English BA and go straight into a medicine degree upon graduating.
Just make sure it’s something you want to do and that you like reading and analysing whatever it is you’re reading. Those are the only requirements at the end of the day, really. Curiosity helps, too.