Turning a New Page: What To Do With an English Major
Written by Sarah Borger
One of the most popular majors here at Hillsdale is English. An English major myself, I’ve heard the question, “So, what are you going to do with that?” countless times. To shed some light on what exactly is possible with an English major, and how Hillsdale offers a unique opportunity to pursue interests and passions among departments, I sat down with some fellow English majors to ask what they’re planning to do after graduation and why they chose the English major at Hillsdale in light of those goals.
Madison Moore: English, Class of 2018
This summer I’m working with the NASA History Office in D.C. I always wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid, but I started to realize that it wasn’t my skill set and forgot about it for a while. Then Interstellar came out, which made me really excited about space again, and that was when I realized you don’t necessarily have to be a scientist to be involved.
When I got in contact with the chief historian of NASA, he told me that the most important part of the application was the writing sample. That semester I ended up writing the best paper I’ve ever written, so I sent it in, and things fell into place.
Studying English has not only lent itself to my writing skills but also taught me how to read carefully and think deeply about things. I’ve done a few independent studies on pulsar physics and the history of NASA, and both of those require me to think analytically about different material and be able to discuss it with a professor for forty-five minutes. That’s something that requires a bit of intellectual flexibility, and I think all of the analysis I’ve put into writing papers for my major has prepared me for this. English allows you to pursue really cool things, because you can learn more readily than someone who’s pigeonholed into something.
Chandler Ryd: English, Class of 2018
I came to Hillsdale intending to study English so that I could maybe teach somewhere and write, but right before I came to school I became interested in film. I started watching all kinds of movies and eventually started shooting my own stuff and really fell in love with the process. Now the plan is to pursue filmmaking after graduation and just go for it as much as I can.
I still think that my English major is absolutely essential to this process. Warner Herzog says that if you want to make truly important films, you have to read voraciously. You have to read all of the great books in order to make truly important films. So what am I doing studying English? I’m learning how to tell stories. I’m learning how the great artists in the written word throughout a lot of human history have used the tools of their particular medium to create some kind of work of art that interacts with the society of the time but also has lasting appeal, and lasting meaning.
Lara Forsythe: English and French, Class of 2018
After graduation my dream is to work in a bakery or some sort of city café. I really like working with my hands and serving other people with food, but I never considered it as a full-time option until I worked in a bakery last summer and realized that I just really loved it.
I initially thought I was going to pursue economics but ultimately chose English because I love writing. I want to continue writing poetry and prose, even if that’s not what I do for a living, because I think those things are worth pursuing for their own sake and not necessarily for one’s future occupation. In literature we find the depths of man’s nature and relationship with God, both of which are important to character development.
Leah Hickman: English, Classical Education, German, Class of 2017
I’ve always wanted to have some sort of writing job. A couple of summers ago I worked with a Christian worldview think tank, and I got to write for their website, manage their social media a little bit, and I even got to prepare drafts for their radio shows. Something like that is kind of my dream job, but those are a little rare.
I’ve definitely learned how to be a better reader by being in the English department here, and I think that being a better reader, just in general, means you’re better at analyzing things and presenting your ideas. That’s basically what you do in an English paper. A very thoughtful approach to written communication is what I would like to apply to any job I have. Similarly, I would love to homeschool my kids someday and be able to teach them how to read well and how to enjoy stories.
Sarah Borger, ’18, is an English and Spanish major from northern Indiana. In her spare time, she enjoys photography, adventuring, naps, and consuming obnoxious amounts of chocolate.