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Criticisms of the English Major

Two former majors say that some upper-level English courses suffered because students were either ill-prepared or uninterested in the subject. Here is each respondent’s comment:

“Upper-level English courses were filled with people who didn’t want to be there or didn’t fully appreciate the level at which the class was intended to operate.”

“Ill-prepared students slow down the pace of a course.”

These two people both recommend instituting prerequisites for upper-level courses and limiting some courses to juniors and seniors.

There are only two other specific criticisms expressed: one person found the junior review unnecessary; another person notes that some A courses fail to cover critical approaches.

Question 5: What positions have you held since graduation?

The results of this survey demonstrate once again that English is a highly versatile major, leading to diverse careers and jobs. In our recent survey education is the field most frequently mentioned by graduates (72%), with business in second place (19%), and writing and publishing (14%) in third. These percentages add up to over 100% because people reported that they have worked in more than one field. Similarly, in responses to the 1998 survey, the four top positions were teaching (64%), publishing (44%), administration (31%), and business (31%). In the 2008 questionnaires no graduates say that they are lawyers, though 4 have attended or are attending law school.

Responses to our recent survey point to education as the field again chosen by most English majors, and a smaller percentage work in business and publishing and writing than 9 years ago. There also are fewer graduates reporting careers in finance, health services, management, and social services. The variety of fields and jobs reported by English graduates in the 2008 survey is apparent in the list below, which gives the number of alumni after each category.

Careers in Education - 31

Teaching - 20 Elementary Education - 7 High School English - 5 Special Education - 3 Substitute - 3

Language Arts - 2 Adjunct College Professor - 1 English Teacher in China - 1 Teacher’s Aide - 1


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