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Old 11-10-2009, 08:58 PM
 
Location: Middle America
17,720 posts, read 15,144,800 times
Reputation: 20670

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Quote:
Originally Posted by DreamingSpires View Post
This is exactly what I wanted to know -- thanks!

I think this is one of the most useful and interesting posts I have seen on the College/University discussion forum because it actually explains how one liberal arts major managed to find a "career niche." There is really no road map for liberal arts majors who don't go the academic, MBA, or law school route. In school, they certainly do not explain how these types of careers can somehow be a matter of a combination of hard work, patience, creativity, and risk-taking and perhaps most of all--good luck and fate.

I know a few English majors who hold very senior positions in business and who followed routes as circuituous as yours to get there.

It is like a breath of fresh air to read something from "real life" instead of the typical dismissive "an English degree is useless and meaningless" comment.
Agreed. It's far more reflective of reality than most of the usual drivel.
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Old 11-10-2009, 09:31 PM
 
Location: Conejo Valley, CA
12,330 posts, read 10,481,463 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DreamingSpires View Post
Perhaps you should read some criticism by Coleridge or Eliot. It might disabuse you of the misguided notion that "critical thinking" employed in literary analysis is somehow inferior to that found in other disciplines.
I see you are again pretending I said things I did not. There is a difference between the sort of reasoning used in literary analysis and used in say Philosophy, the latter uses logic the former a sort of rhetoric. I said nothing about one being inferior to the other, but industry is going to certainly favor strong abilities in logic based critical thinking vs literary analysis.


Quote:
Originally Posted by DreamingSpires View Post
If you've engaged in "traditional literary study" at the college level you are qualified to discuss the merits of a literary education.
Yes, I've engaged in "traditional literary study" at the college level. Of course this whole line is just fallacious to begin with.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DreamingSpires View Post
United States Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has said that the best preparation for law school was the study of lyric poetry (Gopen, 1984, at 333).
Interesting, so instead of stating your opinion you state someone else's opinion. Oh wait, but this opinion is so suppose to matter because it was written by an "United states supreme court justice". Provo, a text book example of an appeal to authority.

Also, are you under the impression that Law school is a career? You suggested that the study of literature is preparation for a number of careers. So I ask again, like what? Law school is further education, not a career. Law is a career, but the study of literature does not enable one to practice law.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DreamingSpires View Post
And YOUR measurement for whether or not someone is "thinking critically"...
No, rather when one is employing logic instead of the repeated use of fallacies to demonstrate her/his point of view.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DreamingSpires View Post
I find the notion that someone who recognizes the value of philosophy can simultaneously find great literature "inherently meaningless" truly mind boggling... ...and somewhat sad...but I guess it "takes all kinds."
My comment was in reference to the literary analysis of literature (poems in particular). The analysis is inherently meaningless on any sort of objective grounds, the works themselves have no concrete meaning either but have "poetic meaning". As a result reading literature is a personal experience, want one gains from it is up to the person. Reading literature in an English class if anything corrupts this experience as you have an supposed authority figure suggesting that certain interpretations some how have more value than others.

You see, I value literature just not the sorts of things one does in an English department.
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Old 11-10-2009, 09:47 PM
 
Location: Conejo Valley, CA
12,330 posts, read 10,481,463 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TabulaRasa View Post
Personal interest? Worked well for me.
Sure, I guess if you are going to college for kicks. But even if you enjoyed literature, etc you can easily study it while getting a degree in something more viable career wise.

Whether or not it worked for you is not all that important. Dropping out of high school/college worked for a number of people too, are you going to go around suggesting people do such? What is important is job and salary data, someone thinking about majoring in English needs to know that their likely salary is going to be low and and that finding a decent job may rely on a good deal of happenstance.

Another poster detailed their work history, it is filled with happenstance. If she happen to not hear about such and such job, did not do work for her father, or whatever else she may have a much different story to tell right now. So although it worked out for her, how does a fresh English graduate repeat her experience? They really can't and that is the problem.
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Old 11-10-2009, 10:18 PM
 
Location: Middle America
17,720 posts, read 15,144,800 times
Reputation: 20670
Quote:
Originally Posted by user_id View Post
Another poster detailed their work history, it is filled with happenstance. If she happen to not hear about such and such job, did not do work for her father, or whatever else she may have a much different story to tell right now. So although it worked out for her, how does a fresh English graduate repeat her experience? They really can't and that is the problem.
This is life, regardless of one's background or college major. You can follow a certain path, and you may happen upon a particular career or personal trajectory, or you may not. More likely, variables like chance and timing are going to determine much more in your life. Life is happenstance. You are right about one thing, and that's that you can't go trolling for a recipe for guaranteed success by following steps X, Y, Z or majoring in this or studying that. That's not how it works.

Fortunately, though, the person who posted the original post on the thread wasn't asking any of that, or how to replicate somebody else's experience...he was merely asking "what kind of career fields a BA in English might lend itself to besides teaching or writing." I know it's tempting to take every opportunity to attempt to belittle that particular choice at every opportunity, though, for whatever reason.

At any rate, you asserted that you couldn't understand why anyone would major in English. It seemed to me that you were overlooking the personal interest factor, which is clearly an applicable and valid reason for some, if not for you. There are a variety of reasons and combinations of reasons that people obtain schooling and choose the courses of study they choose. It seems reasonable to point that out at times when the conversation veers toward any one particular reason.
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Old 11-10-2009, 10:30 PM
 
Location: The Hall of Justice
21,129 posts, read 18,944,496 times
Reputation: 29626
Quote:
Originally Posted by user_id View Post
Sure, I guess if you are going to college for kicks. But even if you enjoyed literature, etc you can easily study it while getting a degree in something more viable career wise.

Whether or not it worked for you is not all that important. Dropping out of high school/college worked for a number of people too, are you going to go around suggesting people do such? What is important is job and salary data, someone thinking about majoring in English needs to know that their likely salary is going to be low and and that finding a decent job may rely on a good deal of happenstance.

Another poster detailed their work history, it is filled with happenstance. If she happen to not hear about such and such job, did not do work for her father, or whatever else she may have a much different story to tell right now. So although it worked out for her, how does a fresh English graduate repeat her experience? They really can't and that is the problem.
I have several things to say, but it's late and will come back to most of this tomorrow, along with your earlier response to me. I will say one thing, though.

I interpreted the original question as, "What sorts of jobs can I get with an English degree?" You are addressing a different question, which is, "What degree should I get if I want the most lucrative career?" Those are different questions. If English does not interest you, then by all means, study something else. Go into business or communications or finance or whatever. An English degree does not guarantee you a job, and if you do not like to read and write, then you will probably hate anything where an English degree would be really useful, or you will not be very good at it. But if English does interest you, it can be a very useful degree to have with many job opportunities that you may enjoy.
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Old 11-10-2009, 10:34 PM
 
Location: Middle America
17,720 posts, read 15,144,800 times
Reputation: 20670
Quote:
Originally Posted by JustJulia View Post
I have several things to say, but it's late and will come back to most of this tomorrow, along with your earlier response to me. I will say one thing, though.

I interpreted the original question as, "What sorts of jobs can I get with an English degree?" You are addressing a different question, which is, "What degree should I get if I want the most lucrative career?" Those are different questions.

If English does not interest you, then by all means, study something else. Go into business or communications or finance or whatever. An Engish degree does not guarantee you a job, and if you do not like to read and write, then you will probably hate anything where an English degree would be really useful, or you will not be very good at it. But if English does interest you, it can be a very useful degree to have with many job opportunities that you may enjoy.
You and I are on the same page, Julia.
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Old 11-10-2009, 11:34 PM
 
Location: Conejo Valley, CA
12,330 posts, read 10,481,463 times
Reputation: 4056
Quote:
Originally Posted by TabulaRasa View Post
Fortunately, though, the person who posted the original post on the thread wasn't asking any of that, or how to replicate somebody else's experience...he was merely asking "what kind of career fields a BA in English might lend itself to besides teaching or writing."
The question in the OP was short and vague, a BA in English might lend to just about anything. But I can't help but think they are asking about what are likely career paths, in which case what I'm talking about is relevant. Outside of teaching English majors have much less direct career paths than other majors. This is obviously an important consideration when one is thinking about a degree in English in relation to careers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JustJulia View Post
I interpreted the original question as, "What sorts of jobs can I get with an English degree?" You are addressing a different question, which is, "What degree should I get if I want the most lucrative career?" Those are different questions.
The majority of my comments address the "what sorts of jobs can I get with an English degree" question, not the matter of which degree leads to the most lucrative career. Although, I did mention median salary data earlier in the thread, but I did not really do it to point out which career was more lucrative.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JustJulia View Post
But if English does interest you, it can be a very useful degree to have with many job opportunities that you may enjoy.
Right and this is where the salary data is relevant, people with Bachelors in English have one of the lowest median salaries. Why? Because the market is over-supplied with people with whatever skill set English majors have. Now when the market is over-supplied with people with degree X, then the number of job opportunities for any given individual with degree X diminishes (as do the salaries). As a result in terms of getting decent career, English is problematic.

I'm assuming the OP is someone thinking about studying English, not someone that has already graduated. That is why I have mentioned the low median salaries, the difficulty of finding a decent career outside of teaching and so on.
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Old 11-11-2009, 05:20 AM
 
1,468 posts, read 1,240,218 times
Reputation: 638
Quote:
Originally Posted by user_id View Post
I see you are again pretending I said things I did not. There is a difference between the sort of reasoning used in literary analysis and used in say Philosophy, the latter uses logic the former a sort of rhetoric. I said nothing about one being inferior to the other, but industry is going to certainly favor strong abilities in logic based critical thinking vs literary analysis.

...

The analysis is inherently meaningless on any sort of objective grounds, the works themselves have no concrete meaning either but have "poetic meaning". As a result reading literature is a personal experience, want one gains from it is up to the person. Reading literature in an English class if anything corrupts this experience as you have an supposed authority figure suggesting that certain interpretations some how have more value than others.


You can assert this (that English majors aren't taught to "think critically," in contrast to Philosophy majors) until the cows come home but it doesn't change the fact that it is utter nonsense.

So is this:

The analysis is inherently meaningless on any sort of objective grounds, the works themselves have no concrete meaning either but have "poetic meaning".

If it were true, there would be no justifiable reason for favoring Ralph Ellison over Danielle Steele--or the output of a typing monkey for that matter.

You seem to have a real axe to grind about "English Majors" which clouds your ability to think rationally about literary study. Or perhaps you just like using "big words" and "stirring the sh*t."

Last edited by DreamingSpires; 11-11-2009 at 05:51 AM..
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Old 11-11-2009, 05:32 AM
 
1,468 posts, read 1,240,218 times
Reputation: 638
Quote:
but industry is going to certainly favor strong abilities in logic based critical thinking vs literary analysis.
I challenge you to come up with (1) a study that shows that industry likes to hire philosophy majors for their logic "skillset" or (2) three anecdotal stories/copies of advertisements from industry explicitly seeking this skillset.

I have a lot of respect for philosophy majors, but I have found that most hiring in private industry, while in the main holding a favorable view of English majors ("they can write" -- whether this is true or not, as JustJulia has noted), would have no idea what formal logic was if it bit them in the elbow and, if they have thought about "philosophy majors" at all, tend to view them sort of as bug-eyed pickle-ass*d weirdos.
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Old 11-11-2009, 06:08 AM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan and Sometimes Orange County CA
15,819 posts, read 31,799,789 times
Reputation: 11814
An english major is excellent preparation for law school, prehaps the best choice of all majors (unless you want to go into patent law in which case you should major in engineering or chemistry). History is a close second since the thinking and writing skills requried of either major are pretty much the same.

English majors learn analytical thinking, which is different than simple logic that you can learn in math or philosophy (logic) courses). English majors learn to read, digest, analyze and summarize complex thoughts and idea contained in written works. English majors also learn how to communicate well in writing( something sorely lacking in a great many people who focus on scinces or math alone and avoid english courses).

Although there ae many exceptions to any generality, I believe that English or history are the best major to prepare someone for law school and engineering is the worst (except patent law where engineering or chemistry are pretty much requried prerequisits).

For the same reasons, English or History are probably one of the better majors for business school as well. Although a basic understanding of engineering or chemistry is necessary for many busiensses, a major in English or History is probably a better overall preparation for the skills needed to actually run a business.

At the same time, it is a mistake for an english or history major to avoid taking math, science or engineering courses, just as it is a mistake for a math, science or engineering major to avoid taking English or history. The best option is to obtain a well rounded education with a working knowlege of all disciplines and a concentration in one or two particular areas. A truely well rounded education may readily require five or six years of college, rather than four. However does it really matter if you postpone starting the job that you will be doing every day for the next 30 to 40 years? What is your hurry to dive into what will eventually become a grind to you?
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