The Decline of the English Major

College has definitely gotten more and more expensive within the last couple of years, thats undeniable, and that trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Wheaton campus itself increased tuition for next semester by 2.57 percent. With the extra money it takes to go to college now, more and more students are making the switch from studying what they love to studying something practical and within the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields.

This is a trend that can be seen all over the country. At Yale University, in 1991, 162 students graduated with an english major. By 2012 there were only 62. Students feel pressure from parents and society alike to get jobs right after college and pay off the debts they acquire while in school. It’s because of this, and the higher likelihood of getting a high paying job after college with a science degree, that students are shying away from english and humanities majors in order to study science.

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Now, you may be thinking that this isn’t really a problem; the world could always use more doctors and scientists, right? This is true; the world will never run out of sick people to cure. However, what happens when there’s no one left to write newspapers, or when there are no more translators? What happens when so many people switch to sciences that there are no more chefs, lawyers or real estate agents?

By studying science, pieces of your education get lost. By studying science you don’t learn to write the same way that you do when taking classes in the humanities. You also don’t learn debate skills, public speaking or other types of literacy that is heavily stressed in english classes. And, many people would say, that this is a trait that is important to life in todays society, and that the number of students missing out on this skill is tragic.

So yes, by studying science you have a higher likelihood of making more money after college, but if you don’t love it, is it really worth studying, and missing out on all the great aspects of studying humanities or english?

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1 thought on “The Decline of the English Major”

  1. Hi Amy, I thought that it was very interesting to point out the statistic about declining English majors at Yale. However, I feel that you failed to address the fact that majors in the STEM fields use the same skills as Humanities majors. You stated that “by studying science you don’t learn to write the same way that you do when taking classes in the humanities.” While I will agree that you do not learn to write in the exact same way, science majors have to do their fair share of writing. In addition to writing weekly lab reports, we write lab proposals and publish research papers. In these papers, we are responsible for providing thorough analyses of our finding, using similar analysis skills to someone breaking down one of Shakespeare’s works. Moreover, science majors gain their public speaking skills by presenting their research in class and at conventions. One great benefit of studying at Wheaton is our liberal arts education; when you take your required natural science course I am sure that you will discover for yourself that science classes utilize writing, public speaking, and other valuable literacy skills. I wonder how the number of English majors at Wheaton compares to the statistic about Yale. I am curious to see if the number of English majors here has also begun to decline.

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