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message 1: by Paula (new)

Paula | 1051 comments Stressed out about GREs? Not sure what schools to apply to or what program to enroll in? Want to share gripes, or successes, with others?

Tell us all about your English degree experiences here - this is a place to offer you support and encouragement. In exchange, some of us who aren't in this degree get to live vicariously through you :)


message 2: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Williams has anyone started reading tess of the d urbervilles yet? i am on page 168, it is a little slow at times but i am enjoying it anyway.


message 3: by Paula (last edited Mar 15, 2010 10:07AM) (new)

Paula | 1051 comments Jennifer wrote: "has anyone started reading tess of the d urbervilles yet? i am on page 168, it is a little slow at times but i am enjoying it anyway."

Hi Jennifer-
Was hoping to use this thread for English degree students : ) I'll set up the Tess threads shortly; please add comments there. Glad to hear you are enjoying the book overall!


message 4: by Jenna (new)

Jenna | 19 comments Well, I went through that a few years ago for a Ph.D. program...feel free to send me a PM if you like


message 5: by Joy (new)

Joy (joylnorth) Anna - to what degree program are you applying? I am planning on applying to MA programs in English (Literature) soon and will take the GRE (blah!) this summer.


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

I have a question for you. My daughter is looking at colleges (she will graduate from high school in June 2011). She really enjoys public speaking, and creating power point presentations, as well as learning languages. She is also getting into writing. She was looking at majoring in communications and then we met with an English professor who told her that employers look down upon communications majors (as being the underachievers?) He encouraged her to get an English degree and take the rhetoric and communication classes as part of the English degree.

So, long story short, any opinion from English majors about this?


message 7: by Susan (new)

Susan | 74 comments Joy, I guess we are in the same boat. I will be taking my GREs this summer also. Since I live and am settled with my family in Buffalo, I am only applying to the University of Buffalo. I did apply for this Fall, but there were 250 applicants for just a few spots! I was very surprised not to be accepted because I assumed that an English Masters wouldn't be so popular!! But, I will be trying again, this time for both the Humanities program (in which you choose two concentrations-mine being English and Art History)and the English program. I'm hoping the GREs will help. I needed to write a 20 page paper for the application and wrote mine on Northanger Abbey, by the way! I have half a Masters degree completed (interrupted by motherhood) and am anxious to finish and get a teaching job at a college.
Jeannette, can't really comment on the practical value of an English degree because I have never really put it to the test in the job market. All I know is that I feel it was the best thing I ever did for myself. It is actually my second degree (my first was in the sciences) completed while working full-time, and I don't regret one moment of it!


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

Thanks Susan, and good luck! I was wondering, too, if you felt that a communications degree was looked down at, as being something that shouldn't need to be taught. Something that comes natural if you can read and write, so to speak.

What was your paper about, which aspect of Northanger Abbey? We just discussed this book a couple of months back and I really enjoyed it this time.


message 9: by Susan (new)

Susan | 74 comments Jeannette- I sometimes feel that I don't have enough practical knowledge to enter into the advertising or publishing world. It's probably why I have never tried (though opportunities are minimal in Buffalo). I had considered getting my advertising/public relations certificate in the past, just to be more marketable. As for now, I am happy shooting for a part-time teaching job, so I have time for my family. Maybe a Communications major with an English minor, or vice versa, would have what it takes? Hope this helps....


message 10: by Susan (last edited Jun 01, 2010 07:39AM) (new)

Susan | 74 comments Jeannette-my Northanger Abbey paper was about this famous quotation by Henry Tilney:

“What have you been judging from? Remember the country and the age in which we live. Remember that we are English, that we are Christians. Consult your own understanding, your own sense of the probable, your own observation of what is passing around you-Does our education prepare us for such atrocities? Do our laws connive at them? Could they be perpetrated without being known in a country like this, where social and literary intercourse is on such a footing; where every man is surrounded by a neighborhood of voluntary spies, and where roads and newspapers lay everything open? Dearest Miss Morland, what ideas have you been admitting?”
spoken by Henry Tilney, Northanger Abbey.

I wrote about the irony of this passage and, if read literally, this quotation would suggest that Catherine was being educated by Henry. As we see in the novel, Catherine is much more aware of what is going on and is able to see, albeit in the wrong circumstances, that General Tilney is not a very good man. In fact, in my paper I suggest that it is Catherine who is doing the educating, not Henry. Writing this paper gave me a much better opinion of the novel, to say the least! It was always at the bottom of my list of Austen's novels, but now, I really don't have a bottom. They all are incredible when read closely!

Sorry I missed the discussion of the novel!


message 11: by [deleted user] (last edited Jun 01, 2010 08:06AM) (new)

And now I will have to consider your point of view and apply it to how I interpreted the book. Very interesting. I loved anything and everything that came out of Henry Tilney's mouth. You are welcome to post this again on the discussion thread:

Henry Tilney

I am sure there are a few people who would love to discuss this with you.


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

Susan wrote: "Jeannette- I sometimes feel that I don't have enough practical knowledge to enter into the advertising or publishing world. It's probably why I have never tried (though opportunities are minimal in..."

Thanks again. I think she will go for communications with a solid grounding in English. (and Japanese).


message 13: by Jenna (new)

Jenna | 19 comments Jeanette wrote: ". She was looking at majoring in communications and then we met with an English professor who told her that employers look down upon communications majors (as being the underachievers?"

Hmm, that's a new one I had not heard, but there's always something. some people look down on a B.A.s in English, because it indicates the person had no idea what they wanted to do. Whatever. Particularly with the Japanese, etc., I think experience, good letters of recommendation, good grades, and articulation -- all things it sounds like your daughter is striving for -- will be more important than a B.a. in English vs. Communications. The M.A. or Ph.D. will probably be more important -- while I might be wrong, I've often felt that a motivated student shouldn't worry so much about whether their B.A. is in this field or from that college and know what will serve them best...I'd think the Japanese, especially, will be a real plus both in terms of job applications and future graduate school applications or internships, etc. Being solidly bilingual can always help tip the scales...


message 14: by Jenna (new)

Jenna | 19 comments Anna and Joy best of luck on your GREs this summer and writing applications.


message 15: by Joy (new)

Joy (joylnorth) Susan wrote: "Joy, I guess we are in the same boat. I will be taking my GREs this summer also. Since I live and am settled with my family in Buffalo, I am only applying to the University of Buffalo. I did app..."

Wow - that does seem like a lot more interest than I would have thought. Good luck studying! I keep putting it off because I don't know where I am applying yet (because I don't know where I will be living in 6 months because my hubby is job hunting!), but I need to start studying soon--like now :)


message 16: by Joy (new)

Joy (joylnorth) Jeannette - I have definitely heard people put down communications majors, however, I agree with Jenna that the recommendations, grades, etc. that your daughter will get will be more important. That being said, I LOVED being an English major and it has been so fulfilling, however, I am not looking to create a career for myself out of it, it has been more for self edification.

I think the best way would be for your daughter to think about double-majoring, taking a minor, or earning an additional certificate. I would suggest she speak with advisors (or find online if she can) the classes required for each specific major, and then she may be able to decide which one sounds more interesting and applicable to her goals and interests. For me, my major was very flexible so I was able to take Theatre, Humanities, and editing courses that applied toward my major. From your daughter's interest in languages, she may want to look at general Humanity programs that would allow her to pursue her specific interests, and perhaps even build her own major. Good luck!


message 17: by Joy (new)

Joy (joylnorth) Jenna wrote: "Anna and Joy best of luck on your GREs this summer and writing applications."

Thanks Jenna! What was your focus in your Ph.D. program?


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

So many choices out there! I am thinking I will take some Lit classes myself, just because I want to. :)


message 19: by Joy (new)

Joy (joylnorth) Jeannette wrote: "So many choices out there! I am thinking I will take some Lit classes myself, just because I want to. :)"

You definitely should! Not only are you exposed to new novels and authors, but the in-class discussions are so much fun and really get you thinking. For me, it is so useful to hear other people's perspectives, perhaps that is why I like Goodreads :)


message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

I think so, too. I have been shown new perspectives on books (all elements of) through discussions on Goodreads. Sometimes, I have even been swayed to change my opinions! :)


message 21: by Jenna (new)

Jenna | 19 comments Joy wrote:What was your focus in your Ph.D. program? - theatre history


message 22: by Paula (last edited Jun 01, 2010 07:55PM) (new)

Paula | 1051 comments Jeannette - I can't speak for the differences in majors from a purely academic perspective, but I work in HR at a Fortune 100 company so can speak to what employers are looking for, if that helps.

I guess the first question is the standard: "what does your daughter want to be when she grows up" question? If she ultimately wants to go into a PhD program, then her career will most likely be in her field.

If she's looking to get into anything in the "business" world then I'd opt for the English degree over the Communications degree in a heartbeat. We have people who can do things to numbers my calculator can't even do, but it's embarrassing when they send out an email because the quality is so abysmal. We are crying out for people who can craft a memo; the written word is so overlooked and forgotten, it seems. Plus, there is this weird stereotype in the marketplace that Communications majors are frat or sorority types who couldn't get into another program. I'm not sure what that stems from, but there it is.

Personally, I have a Masters in History, and was hired because 1) I have a degree, esp. in a higher education program and 2) I can write a complete sentence.

Whenever someone asks me what degree to go into, I say two things (sorry about the numbering!):
1. It's 4 years of your life, pick something you actually want to spend 4 years learning
2. Unless you know exactly what you want to do for a job, the degree is secondary to getting the abilities that coincide with a degree: critical thinking, problem solving, multi-tasking, communication (written and verbal) and the ability to complete projects on-time.

If your daughter can learn Japanese, she can learn any other job function on the job.


message 23: by Susan (new)

Susan | 74 comments Great advice, Paula! This will help me out, too. Thank you for sharing your experience...


message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

Paula wrote: "If she's looking to get into anything in the "business" world then I'd opt for the English degree over the Communications degree in a heartbeat.... Plus, there is this weird stereotype in the marketplace that Communications majors are frat or sorority types who couldn't get into another program."

Thanks, Paula. I think this is what the English prof was trying to tell us. Get an English or History degree, take the additional communications courses, like the computer-based stuff, and then with speaking 3 languages (she also speaks German) she has a lot of options open to her.

We looked at communications as a degree program because she really enjoys speech competition. She loves doing presentations. She also loves languages and drawing.

My poor husband wanted her to go into engineering (we both have math/CS backgrounds), but she doesn't have much interest in math! I think a History or English major would be a lot more interesting!


message 25: by Jenna (new)

Jenna | 19 comments Jeannette wrote: She also speaks German

Your daughter sound amazing! Brava! Maybe she should go into international relations. Much money to be made in business or as a translator.


message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

Jenna wrote: "Jeannette wrote: She also speaks German

Your daughter sound amazing! Brava! Maybe she should go into international relations. Much money to be made in business or as a translator."


Thank you, Jenna. :) She is interested in International Studies, but not the political science side of it. That isn't of as much interest to her.


message 27: by Paula (new)

Paula | 1051 comments I agree - 3 languages deserves loud applause! I'm sure whatever area she chooses she'll be quite the success!


message 28: by [deleted user] (new)

Paula wrote: "I agree - 3 languages deserves loud applause! I'm sure whatever area she chooses she'll be quite the success!"

It helps that she has a German-speaking dad, who made sure she grew up bilingual. You English (and History) majors are all so nice! I am sorry if I hijacked your discussion thread. All of your comments have been great! I've shared them with my husband, too. :)


message 29: by Joy (new)

Joy (joylnorth) Jeannette - kudos to you and your hubby for giving your daughter such great opportunities in life by being bilingual! She will definitely benefit from her language skills in the future.


message 30: by Susan (new)

Susan | 74 comments Jeannette-You didn't hijack it at all. Your question was very pertinent and the answers were very helpful. My husband and I are raising our son bilingual also. He is five years old now, and we still manage to keep it up. My husband only speaks to him in French, and I only speak to him in English. My son is not much for speaking French, but he understands everything we say (even if he pretends not to!). Hope he turns out as successful as your daughter! Very impressive to say the least!


message 31: by [deleted user] (new)

Joy wrote: "Jeannette - kudos to you and your hubby for giving your daughter such great opportunities in life by being bilingual! She will definitely benefit from her language skills in the future."

Thank you. :)


message 32: by [deleted user] (new)

Susan wrote: "Jeannette-You didn't hijack it at all. Your question was very pertinent and the answers were very helpful. My husband and I are raising our son bilingual also. He is five years old now, and we s..."

Tell your husband to keep at it. My husband spoke German and my daughter answered (mostly) in English for years. The constant refrain from my husband was "Deutsch bitte!". Now, at 16, they chatter in German 90% of the time. He also read to her in German, so your husband could read to your son in French.


message 33: by Susan (new)

Susan | 74 comments Wow! that's good news. Yes, we do the same at story time. I read the English books, and he reads the French. Right now, we have lots of trouble when we visit my in-laws who speak no English at all!


message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

Susan wrote: "Wow! that's good news. Yes, we do the same at story time. I read the English books, and he reads the French. Right now, we have lots of trouble when we visit my in-laws who speak no English at all!"

My in-laws speak English, so that wasn't a problem. That will help in the long run, hopefully, to encourage your son to speak French with his grandparents. We did have the advantage there, but again, he may pick up a lot when everyone is speaking French and he isn't.


message 35: by Jenna (new)

Jenna | 19 comments Anna wrote: I have ten schools in mind because I've been advised to spread myself out...

Anna, with your background in an academic services center and freshman writing program, I would think any English department with their heads on straight would be begging you to come. Most of my friends who got Ph.D.s (or are getting) in English departments always have to teach freshman comp or fresh intro to lit classes, and often work in the Academic Writing Center or Resource Center or whatever it might be termed.

My advice, which you probably know is, partially echoing Paula

- if you get in, or before you get in, see if you can find out more "real" information about the graduate program. Usually there is one graduate student that might be "on call" to answer questions. I think you can find ways to ask "what's the worst thing I need to know about your department" without phrasing it like that.
- money. funding is so important. Find out how much funding, how consistent, extra funding for conferences, research trips, health insurance, etc., etc., etc. I don't think it should be the only deciding factor, but maybe if you've been accepted to X, Y, and Z and you like all three equally, then how much money you'll get is important
- adviser. What kind of advisery style do you want? Do you want a weekly email or being left along for months? Different people will have different styles and probably each exists in each department, but I would think about it -- particularly if you do go to a school to work with a specific person - make sure you really want to live with that person for the next 5-7 years of your life
- teaching opportunities. You have experience, so you're already way ahead of the game than many graduating grad students. But find out what the school will give you. Can you adjunct elsewhere. Will the faculty help you? Will you have time.
- coursework and course load? How many classes do you have to take? How much option is there? In a small department there may be little choice in a large department you may have dozens? If it's a smaller department but you like it, can you go elsewhere (i.e. another department) for a class? or does the university have an exchange agreement with other nearby universities?


message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

Anna wrote: "I feel like I opened a can of worms and then neglected to check back in!
Jeanette- I have a BA and MA in English and currently run an academic services center and freshman writing program for a lit..."


Thanks, Anna. My daughter is set on a small college, too. This year's admitted Freshman class is 300, one of their largest. The only thing for her that is set in stone is her desire to study abroad in Japan. So, I had to find schools, close to home, with some Japanese. I just want to make sure that she has some degree options to consider, because I don't think she wants to move to Japan, but at 16, she has some time to decide that!


message 37: by Jenna (new)

Jenna | 19 comments Part 2-

- conferences and papers. Anna you already have an M.A. so this is probably old news, but publish publish publish and go to conferences and network and be active in any graduate society or section of the Society (i.e. ALA, MLA, etc., etc.). It looks on the resume, you meet cool people, and even something like a book review will be good on the c.v. when it's time to go for a tenure track position. Many research 1 institutions have high expectation of the publishing output of their faculty.
- hire rate. Find out the rate of hire of graduate students and where they go. It will tell you a lot (one hopes) about the calibre of students accepted and likely what other departments think of the that school.
- back to faculty. Know what the faculty in the departments are working on. Read their most recent work. Find out what classes they teach. can you picture working with them, under them, for them? Do you their writing style? the way they think? what they are passionate about? Are they active in their fields?
- location. Can you live where ever University X is for next 5-7 years? Even if the department is amazing, if University X is where it's always cold/hot/humid/rainy/in the middle-of-nowhere -- can you take it? And once moving, I'd give any new place 6-9 months at least, before deciding it's terrible and the choice was a mistake...
- the grad students. Some departments are huge, some are small. Some are supportive, some are competitive. some are mostly made of younger students, some older, some a good mix. I think many times each incoming class has a different "spirit" to it. I'd think about that -- a friend of mine went to a smaller grad program and turned down some bigger names because the grad students had a ranger of ages, and she didn't want to just be with 20-somethings
- libraries. Especially in the humanities. what are the university holdings, both print and electronic? If they don't have it, are there other libraries nearby and do they have reciprocal lending programs? does the library have a good interlibrary loan policy?
- living places. Cost of living? Can you find something affordable/that you like/where you'll live? Pets? Cars? Public transportation? Safety?

guess those are some random things I'd advise students to think about when applying or perhaps more importantly, how to make a decision after being accepted to many places


message 38: by Jenna (last edited Jun 03, 2010 12:05PM) (new)

Jenna | 19 comments Anna wrote: So much to think about. [...:]I'm torn about the importance of location. Do you think it really matters as much as other factors? Ex. one of my personal heroes is one faculty at U of Florida and I would love to work with her, but I hate (HATE!!) Florida with a passion...

I hope my meanderings thoughts were helpful.

I think the importance of location is more of a personal decision and preferences - probably not as important as other factors- whereas I'd argue money or libraries is more external and concrete. Do you know this person at Florida? Do you think you could work with her? (I've had friends go specifically to programs to work with someone, end up really not working well with them, and switching advisers). That said if you really HATE Florida with a passion, how much will your location/environment stifle your ability to do good work? (also depending on how important it is for you to travel back "home", those things might be important to consider in terms of location too, as coast-to-coast or Hawaii to maindland or Europe to US, etc., will all play factors in transportation costs and make a difference between yearly trips to whenever-I-feel-like it.) If you really are dying to work with this person and think you can look past the Florida part, go for it -- but if all you'll think about is how awful it is to see, I don't know, Florida orange trees outside your window and get dumped on during Hurrican Season. Also, you might think about working with this person as a committee member (i.e. outside person) and not your primary adviser (at yourschool)--might be a way to keep your contact with her but avoid living in Florida. Some of my friends have had better times with their outside person than their department faculty adviser.

and make sure no one you want to work with plans to retire in 5 years or less. Sabbaticals can often be dealt with, and many, but not all, faculty will continue to work with their dissertation advisees. Schools might have different policies about retired faculty and emeritus faculty.


message 39: by Jenna (new)

Jenna | 19 comments Anna wrote Does anyone have thoughts on/ experience with writing the statement of purpose for PhD applications?

Could you be more specific? What sort of statement of purpose are the applications you are using asking for? Generally a statement of purpose runs 1-3 pages. For Ph.D. programs, without having seen what sort of guidelines they give, I would think you would want to touch on
1-why this school/department in particular
2- specific faculty members you might want to work with
3- general research areas you are interested in (most schools won't expect you to have your dissertation topic engraved in stone, but would likely be interested in your general direction)
4-if you've taken a lot of time off, maybe why you are coming back now
5-what you see yourself contributing to the program
6-post-Ph.D. general idea of plans (i.e. academia, practical, etc.)


message 40: by Susan (new)

Susan | 74 comments Well, I just started classes this week and am totally buried in work already. How about you, Anna?


message 41: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Dizon (sarahd828) | 6 comments Hi I haven't posted on here yet but I just discovered this thread. I am an English Major, graduating with my BA in May. I hope to continue on to the Masters program but I feel like I won't qualify. I have done well in my English classes but not so well in some of my GE classes. I'm afraid my GPA will be too low to be considered for the MA program. When I first started college I didn't care about my classes or grades (this is a long story and completely out of character for me). The last two years I've been really trying to focus on getting my grades up but I still don't think they are high enough. My major GPA is a 3.3, I believe and my overall GPA is a 2.69. Any advice on applying for MA programs?


message 42: by Susan (new)

Susan | 74 comments I am just starting back in graduate school at the University of Buffalo. I am actually in a humanities program, but English is my major field and Art History is my minor. I am taking the same courses that the English grad students are taking: Scholarly Methods, Critical Theory, and Victorian Lit. I should be done in May since I have completed all my art history courses (I spent time working on my MA in art history and time in architecture school)


message 43: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Dizon (sarahd828) | 6 comments Oh okay haha thanks!! Where are you studying for your MA?


message 44: by Susan (new)

Susan | 74 comments Sarah,
Your English grades are definitely more important than your overall GPA. Jst concentrate on those.
Susan


message 45: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Dizon (sarahd828) | 6 comments Oh okay phew. I feel so much better about applying now! Thank you so much!


message 46: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Dizon (sarahd828) | 6 comments I've only really looked at two San Francisco State and Cal State Fullerton (I'm at Cal State Fullerton right now for my BA).


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