If you love the written word, in all its power and persuasion, then chances are you have considered pursuing a University English degree.
English degrees allow you to take a deep dive into different cultural and historical perspectives. They teach critical thinking and careful media literacy. Through the reading, they share necessary intersections with philosophy, creative writing, history, social science, and linguistics. In other words: it’s a well-rounded education.
Further, English degrees have relevancy beyond university. Countless modern jobs benefit from a strong foundation in English: marketing director, communications manager, publisher, editor, advertising copywriter, or technical writer, to name just a few.
Luckily, it’s easy to prepare for an English degree. Whether you’re a freshman in high school or an adult looking to head back to the classroom, here are a few ways to get ready.
Get a Head Start on the Syllabi:
One advantage that English degrees have over others is that the materials covered are often readily accessible and inexpensive. It’s not always easy to get your hands on a niche microbiology textbook (and, if you do, you pay through the nose). On the other hand, you can find a copy of, say, Great Expectations at the nearest bookstore or library.
Use that access to your advantage. Research the syllabi of first-year classes and get a head start reading the material as you await enrollment.
Enroll in Grade 12 English Online:
To apply for a university English program, you need a prerequisite of English 12, usually with a minimum grade of 65 – 70% (though this varies according to the institution). If you don’t have that credit, or your grade in English 12 is less than the minimum required, don’t worry.
You can easily, flexibly take ENG4U online at an E-learning high school. Because online high schools allow you to complete a course at your own pace over a twelve-month timeline, you can comfortably fit the course amid your current workload.
Hone Your Close-Reading Skills:
Whether you’re taking ENG4U at an online high school or simply spending your summer reading before university, try to hone your close reading skills.
Don’t just read texts; study them. Stop frequently in your reading to ask direct questions about how the language, images, and syntactic structures inform and support the overall themes of the text.
To help, start by reading a book on literary theory. This article lists a few great introductory and intermediate books on literary theory and criticism, including the comprehensive Norton Anthology.
Join a Book Club:
There are no objectively correct readings in English literature. Part of the beauty of learning English is seeing texts through different lenses according to critical studies (a feminist lens, for instance) or individual interpretations.
One of the best ways to expose yourself to differing opinions is with a book club. Before you embark on your English journey, try joining (or starting) a reading group that tackles canonical and contemporary books. You might be surprised by what you can learn from others.
Aside from the points above, just remember to stay curious and engaged. The best preparation for a major in English is an open mind.