As a proud graduate with an English degree, I sometime take heat from those with specific, technical degrees like mechanical engineering, accounting, or even the ever-abstracting computer science degree. Often, I’ll just laugh and play along, but sometimes I’ll defend my choice. This commenter on Reddit says it best, though. You should go read the whole thing, but here’s the meat:
An English major learns to appreciate each and everything they learn. They often complain their major is useless because they are pulling so much from their other classes. Why is this? Wait, did you just realize what I said? These English majors are pulling information from years ago to use later. They aren’t forgetting their classes – they are actively incorporating them, as well as any life experience or information gained, in what they do. They memorized on a deeper level than most other majors ever will, even though the English major, at its heart, is not about memorization.
They learn to frame everything that is and everything they are into what they are doing. Sure, they are being judged on grammar and structure, but you can learn that outside. Maybe not as efficiently, but you can learn that stuff on your own. The English major? It’s an experience in itself. You can’t self-educate the framing that the English major provides. It sets up the environment to truly learn and incorporate the world around you in your writing.
[Link, with some very mild NSFW for language]
It’s true — English majors learn a discipline, not a craft. I know plenty of crazy-smart engineers who can take apart an appliance and put it back together in no time flat. But sometimes, they have no hobbies, no interests that demonstrate they’re a fully developed person. They can’t think critically about a magazine article or a book or a newscast. And asking them to write something? That’s like pulling teeth. At work, I have clients from whom I often need written content to edit and place on their new websites. Many of our brilliant, but technically-minded clients will expend an exponentially greater amount of energy getting out of writing than just sitting down and writing the damn thing.
But an English major? Writing is no problem. As the Redditor said, “the single most useful element of the English major is completing assignments that are graded subjectively.”
As my partner said recently (herself a fellow English major), “some people don’t go to college to get a job, they go to college to become an interesting person.”