5 things you will hear if you are applying to study English

My guess is that if you’re applying to study at Manchester, a fair number of you will be interested in studying English. Not that this is surprising: when I made it known to my teachers at school that I wanted to study English, most of them shot back with the three universities that should be on my hot list: Oxford, Durham, Manchester. Not only is Manchester the 24th most applied for university in the world to study English, but also English Literature itself is the most applied for subject in the UK. Despite English being such a competitive and highly sought-after degree, there are still many negative associations that go along with this ageless and well-reputed subject.

Guaranteed: if you study English here at Manchester (or anywhere else for that matter) you will hear at least one of these comments during your time at University. Sometimes you want to hit the offender with your gigantic Completed Works of Shakespeare, but it’s important to remember that the person is unlikely to understand your reasons for studying English, when they have no intention of studying it themselves. Just as you may not understand why a mathematics student would want to spend their days holed up in the library with only a bunch of equations for company, English students can perplex even the most rational of people.


Why are you paying nine grand for a library card?

If you compare your studies with that of a Chemistry or Engineering student, it is true that your degree doesn’t consist of six hours of lab three times a week, or soldering parts of a computer together. While you may spend the majority of your study time tackling your reading list or writing an essay in the library, an English degree is so much more than that. Your lectures and seminars are exciting, engaging and interactive learning experiences that enable you to get so much more out of the books you are reading, and office hours with your lecturers are always a great opportunity to discuss your ideas.


What do you do all day?


Um, do my degree? Although I do have two days off a week, I do actually have to do work, believe it or not. I know right- scandal! Studying English is all about absorbing the material you are given in your books and in lectures and coming to your own conclusion. Whereas in subjects like science and geography you are learning facts, English is more about cultivating the skills you have learned in school and taking your passion and leaving university with a degree that will equip you for the world.


A 1st in English can’t be the same as a 1st in Astronomical Physics

Well, it is, believe it or not. As much as certain students won’t like to admit it, an English degree is the same as any other degree. Ha.


What job can you get with an English degree?

I could go into huge detail with this, and list the thousands of jobs you could get with an English degree, but that would be a waste of everyone’s time. Obviously there are certain jobs you can’t get, for example, a surgeon (that would be entertaining, wouldn’t it?) but the great thing about an English degree is that you can do pretty much anything. Whatever your parents or teachers tell you, English degrees equip you with such varied and applicable skills that employers regard very highly. The short answer: English degrees make you very employable.


Can you read my essay? Because, like, you don’t have anything to do today. And you must be really good at spelling and grammar.


*Slams face into keyboard* This is especially common if you have friends who do degrees such as science or engineering degrees. As soon as they get asked to write an essay, their whole world crashes around them, and you as Super Hero English Student has to swoop in to save the day and battle the slimy monsters known as Spelling and Grammar. Shudder. Be prepared to have friends knock on your door asking if you can proof-read their essay, because as far as they’re aware, you are a dab-hand at anything involving the written word. Also, the assumption that English students are brilliant at spelling and grammar is a bit shaky too. Believe it or not, English students make mistakes just like everyone else.

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