Reflections from a Graduating Senior
with the GW English Department
Was the Best Decision
I Made in My Undergrad Career
“Oh… what do you plan to do with that?” This question, along with the skeptical intonation, is one that I am commonly asked when I explain that I am pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in creative writing. The conversation normally continues with me trying to justify my decision to pursue the study of literature, explaining, “I figure there’s nothing more important than knowing how to write well and formulate a persuasive argument.” Well, I only have a few days left until I am no longer merely “pursuing” my degree, and while I still stand by my memorized one-line defense of my decision to study English, if I could have these conversations all over again, there are a few more things that I would add.
I would add that I was always instilled with the belief that education is not only a privilege, but something with which I have the ability to do what I will– meaning, it is up to me to embrace my educational opportunities. I initially started out in the GW School of Business and while both the facilities and the courses offered were great, after one semester I decided that business school was not for me. I still remember the nervous phone call home telling my parents about my decision to switch from the “practical” School of Business to the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. I remember my dad on the other end of the phone assuring me, “It’s your education. You’re going to be there for four years, so it’s important to study what interests you. You’ll make of your education what you decide to put into it.”
|We <3 F. Scott Fitzgerald|
Well, I put in hundreds of pages of writing. I purchased over 150 books. I cried in the library when I felt like I couldn’t manage to possibly write one more sentence about Shakespeare or Chaucer. I even created a Today In Lit Class Tumblr as a means to joke about it all.
But I wouldn’t change a thing. Being a student within the GW Department of English has allowed me the opportunity to meet authors, to take courses from award-winning writers, to write a paper supposing a time-transcending relationship between Morrissey and Oscar Wilde, and to form bonds with other 20-somethings who also share an unhealthy obsession with Margery Kempe and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Now that I have a job lined up for my life post-graduation, it’s far easier to reflect back and stand by my decision to pursue the study of literature.
I am thrilled about my new job, and while it doesn’t require knowledge of Victorian Literature or the evolution of the American play, I can contend that the skills I gained from my English undergraduate courses will be used everyday after I graduate. The sixteen English courses I have taken during my four years here at GW have instilled in me a stronger compassion for others (both fictional and real) and the ability to make my passions and thoughts known through the written word.
I guess the point of this all is to say that if you’re hesitant to take the “impractical” route and pursue a degree in English literature, do it– it will be the most practical decision in your life.
Congratulations to all of our graduating seniors! We wish you luck and hope we changed you as much as you changed us.