What’s the Value of the English Major?
This question, or some variation of it (“what good is a philosophy major?,” for instance), is probably asked of current or prospective humanities students more frequently in dire economic times than at other times, which is to say that you may be hearing it or asking it yourself these days. What underlies it is an assumption that a college degree ought to train you for some particular occupation. English doesn’t do that, unlike, say, Management or Finance. Rather, English and the humanities more generally do something else.
Michael Bérubé, President of the MLA, lays out the case clearly and briefly in this “schools of thought” post on CNN. It’s well worth the read.