Letter to the English majors of our future

Sep 25, 2012

Written in response to the prompt:
As a group, I’d like you to write a 300-600 word letter to our English majors (other than the seniors), giving them advice for getting the most out of their studies in English. You might talk about courses to be sure to take, activities to get involved in, ways to be engaged in learning outside the classroom, whatever. I don’t have a specific plan for your letter, other than this idea of you giving the younger students advice.

To the English majors of our future:

You’ve made it this far. Bravo. If you’re a freshman, you’ve made it to college. You made a good decision. (We think.) As seniors of the highest English degree, we would like to provide you with a fountain of knowledge that we have obtained over the past three (or four…or five) years.

  1. Get a cat. Or a pet. Or something that gives you comfort. First of all, you’re going to need relaxation after all the Dr. Wahlstrom exams you will have to take to get your degree. And Dr. Kimmel shows no mercy on your workload. So find something, whether it’s a cat, or a goldfish, or even your precious Kindle to keep you sane while you move towards your Bachelor of Arts.
  2. Find the nearest coffee shop. If you drink coffee, you will. If you still do not like coffee, find a replacement. You’re going to need to stay awake for the many Emily Dickinson readings that Dr. Reyer will assign you in American Literature. Also, coffee shops are great for meetings with friends and faculty. They’re also good for inspiration—people come and go, and you won’t be too creepy watching them. You’ll get sick of writing in your dorm —trust us.
  3. Although Dr. Kimmel is nearing eight feet tall, he is very approachable. In fact, all of the English faculty members are approachable, whether you have a question about Beowulf or just want to have a quick chat. They’re all characters, with different opinions and personalities.
  4. Read. For God’s sake, read. And write. You’re an English major. Do the work. You’ll thank us for this later. Don’t be afraid to explore beyond the assigned reading. Sometimes, the random fact you find about the time period in which Huckleberry Finn is set is more exciting than the other discussions you could be having in class.
  5. Find more opportunities to keep writing. Submit a piece to the Morpheus. Join a club. Join the Kilikilik. Submit to the Morpheus. Volunteer to write for a group or a non-profit organization in the area or on campus. Try submitting a work to the Morpheus. Tiffin’s not very big, but if you look hard enough, you can find a fantastic opportunity. Submit to the Morpheus.
  6. Submit to the Morpheus. Did we make ourselves clear? You’re going to either be working on the publication or putting your work out there when you’re a senior, and this is a wonderful place to get yourself published. It will also make your life a lot easier when you have to work on it later. And your professors will love you even more if you participate. Be a respectful sycophant. (If you don’t know what it means, look it up.)
  7. Don’t be afraid to take chances. This isn’t supposed to cause anxiety—if you feel anxious (and not in a good way) then maybe you should sit down with your advisor and have a chat. This isn’t a hard path to follow into the job market if you’re willing to go beyond the limits, push yourself, and show people that you’re unique in your abilities, your style, and your personality. Everyone’s a character — you just have to find your story.

English majors are awesome—find us. If you have any questions. We’ll go grab a coffee sometime, or if you’re of age, we’ll go grab a beer at Fireside. Unless you’re Laura, who’ll at least get some greasy food with you (like Taco Bell).

Oh, and don’t forget—get a cat. (And submit to the Morpheus.)

Your trio of feline-loving English majors (Oh, yes—we come in threes, much to Dr. Wahlstrom’s enjoyment or dismay)—
Brittany Cook, Lexie Pinkelman, & Laura Van Valkenburgh