Being an English major is much more challenging than most people think, Emily Parise, a senior English, philosophy and creative writing major, pointed out that it requires a lot of intense reading, writing, thinking and class participation.
Parise, who is the president of the English Club, typically begins her day opening the Writing Center and tutoring students. After that, she heads to class where she puts her hours of reading and analyzing assigned texts from the night before into discussion.
Parise said that her classes are usually discussion-based and require a lot of reading. She added that it is not unusual for an English student to be expected to read an entire novel in a week and that most classes assign at least 30 pages of reading before each session.
“For me, the major has always been a challenge,” Parise said. “But the department is incredibly kind and supportive, and I do really love the work that I get to do, so I embrace the challenge. Ultimately, the challenging nature of the major has made me a better writer and thinker.”
For Rachel Bastian, a senior English major, the major requires having a lot of time devoted to out-of-class work. She said that keeping up with the readings and being actively involved in class discussions is essential to doing well.
Bastian currently takes a course called Literary Genres and Precedents, where she often writes single-spaced, two to three-page papers that analyze a line from a text and reads one novel over two class sessions. She explained that each class in the English department varies in the workload amount, which is typically a lot, but manageable.
Last summer, Bastian interned at Zero Gravity Management, a writer and actor management company in Los Angeles.
Bastian said she did the usual intern tasks such as preparing coffee and running office errands, but she also utilized her critical thinking skills and research background to help research for different aspects of the film-making process.
She did script coverage, which is writing a synopsis of a script submission, rating it and assessing it.
Bastian also works at the Writing Center, where she spends up to 18 hours a week tutoring. Her experience as a tutor, has influenced her to consider attending graduate school so that she can become an English professor.
“The Writing Center has given me more confidence in talking with others, as well as confidence in my abilities as a writer and a teacher,” Bastian said. “Every time I tutor, I am reminded how much I love literature and writing, and it has also opened me up to the world of teaching.”
Dr. Angela Weisl, a professor in the English department, said that the program for English majors has changed a lot since she started working at Seton Hall in 1995.
“We’ve added many more writing classes and the creative writing major and minor,” Weisl said. “We now have a minor in writing and might soon have a major. We’ve changed a lot of our course offerings along with the times—we’re always trying to balance covering important texts and exciting our students.”
Weisl added that she would like to see more types of English majors in the future.
“The English Department offers something for everyone, whether it’s literature classes, creative writing workshops, professional writing classes, or the English Club,” she said. “Our courses and major programs teach the skills in reading, writing, and thinking that employers are looking for these days.”
Liam Oakes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.