daily californian logo


A day in the life of a UC Berkeley English major

article image



We're an independent student-run newspaper, and need your support to maintain our coverage.

OCTOBER 05, 2017

A previous version of this story incorrectly that students study 18th century texts in English 45C. In fact, students study 18th century texts in English 45B.

Being an English major is hard. It’s REALLY hard. We’re held to seemingly unrealistic expectations of how much reading we should complete every week. On top of all that, we have to write essays with our own profound thesis statements and support them with texts from the 18th century. And that’s only English 45B.

If you’re thinking of pursuing an English degree at UC Berkeley, here’s a rundown of the average day of an English major.

8 a.m. Wake up, make tea and have banana pancakes for breakfast while listening to some Vivaldi.

9 a.m. Re-read T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” for the millionth time before class.

10 a.m. You make that trek from Southside to Wheeler Hall. Then, while you sit in class, you wonder how this lecture has anything to do with the assigned readings. Out of sheer hope that you didn’t stress yourself out for nothing, you still try to make some sort of connection between what your professor is saying and that 30-page essay from the early 1900s.

1 p.m. After class, you search for jobs after being reminded, once again, that “graduation is just around the corner.” Of course, you also can’t forget that “an English degree is not nearly as lucrative as a computer science degree” (thanks for the reminder, Grandma).

2 p.m. Have a mini freak-out after realizing three papers are due this week.

3 p.m. Drown in a pile of readings in Main Stacks but somehow still manage to get them all done and squeeze out a couple of pages of the essay that’s due tomorrow. Only 10 more pages left to write!

8 p.m. Start cranking out those last 10 pages after dinner and pray that all that word vomit will somehow sound cohesive.

12 a.m. While sipping on your pre-bedtime tea, sit in amazement at how you even have the time to drink tea.

Just like every major, majoring in English can demand an egregious amount of work. To get through those challenges, just remind yourself that once you get your degree, none of your computer science friends will be able to analyze Walt Whitman as well as you can.

Contact Claudia Marie Huynh at [email protected].

OCTOBER 10, 2017