STAFF OPINION: The English major can’t die

By Chiara Profenna | April 24, 2023 12:30pm
by Emma Sells / The Beacon

The English major is apparently dying — at least that’s what The New Yorker recently reported. With enrollment in English and other humanities dropping all over the country, there’s no doubt about the dip in popularity.

However, I think that English is one of the most necessary majors and maybe the most applicable to our lives.

As a senior English major, I’m a bit biased. I’ve devoted the last four years of my life to learning everything I can about the English language, effective writing and how to critically engage with literature. 

But it’s not far-fetched to say that reading, writing and mastering the power of language are invaluable skills in our society. In a world where your words can dictate your future, using them correctly can give you a substantial upper hand. 

There’s a misconception that humanities degrees are worthless, but when it comes to the study of the English language, the applications are limitless.

Graphic by Chiara Profenna.

English degrees may not be in high demand, but their skills sure are. Reading comprehension, effective communication, creative and argumentative writing, critical thinking and analyzing media are just a few examples that can be applied in practically any field. 

I actually use my English major every day of my life: coming up with compelling arguments against my partner, drafting well-thought-out messages to people in my life, advocating for my worth in job interviews, deciphering Taylor Swift lyrics and even deep diving into the meaning of the last movie I watched. 

Studying literature as an English major has also taught me so much about the world both past and present. 

Reading historic literature has shown me a glimpse of past societies, giving me a deeper understanding of our world and how it was shaped. Foreign literature has opened my eyes to the vast cultures present in our world, helping me to keep an open mind and take on a variety of perspectives.

Studying characters in novels has allowed me to step into others’ shoes, understand their motivations and be more empathic to the people around me.

Literature as a whole has also given me practice in engaging with a variety of complex issues like oppression, racism and gender inequality. Applying what I’ve learned in class to the real world has prepared me for stepping into a society where my voice and advocacy can impact others. 

Being an English major eventually led me to where I am today: pursuing journalism and using my writing ability to advocate for others and tell meaningful stories in our community. 

So while others might see a useless humanities field, I see endless potential. It’s about time the English major pulled up its bootstraps and realized its worth. 

Chiara Profenna is the DEI editor for The Beacon. She can be reached at

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