How to Get the Most Out of the English Department at Hope College

By: Hope Hancock, Class of ’16

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Nearing the end of my senior year in high school, it seemed as though everyone was asking me what I was going to major in.  I’m sure that many English majors can relate to the conversations I had, and continue to have, with many people.

Random Person: What are you majoring in?

Me: English

Random Person: Oh! Are you going to teach.

Me: No, I enjoy reading and writing, but I don’t want to be a teacher.

Random Person: Oh… [insert confused, you’re-never-going-to-make-any-money face here]

As I dove into the English curriculum, I was astonished by the opportunities there were for English majors and how quickly my writing abilities began to develop.  I am an English Literature major, and I remember sitting in Prof. Natalie Dykstra’s Intro to Literary Studies class thinking that I had no clue what I was doing.  By the end of the semester, I felt comfortable analyzing literature and was slowly realizing how pursuing a B. A. in English Literature was going to benefit me in the future.

In order to get the most out of your experience as an English major or minor at Hope, here are just a few things that I would highly recommend!

Make Yourself Uncomfortable

What turned out to be a paper that completely altered by college coursework, began as something that I thought was absolutely terrible.  In Intro to Literary Studies, I wrote a paper comparing and contrasting two war poems.

Confession: I don’t particularly like war poetry and I absolutely hated that paper.

However, I embraced that it was a topic that I didn’t particularly like.  Fast-forward to fall of my senior year, and I tackled another poetry analysis in Intro to Literary Theory.  This time, I chose a poem that I really enjoyed, but I did not totally grasp the theoretical concepts I was using.  Because I had prior experience of the opportunities that can come from doing something I wasn’t comfortable with, I was excited to challenge myself.

Write for The Anchor

Okay, I’m currently serving as Co-Editor-in-Chief of The Anchor, so I admittedly am biased.  But quite honestly, I don’t think there are enough English students embracing the opportunities available in writing for The Anchor.  

I began working for The Anchor as a Copy Editor because, quite simply, I love grammar.  However, as I began working there and writing for The Anchor, I learned a new style of writing.  Journalism is a lot different than the writing that English majors often do for literature and creative writing courses.  Writing for The Anchor is a great way to challenge yourself to write in a new way.  Ultimately, this experience helped me become a better writer in my English courses as well.

Side Note: You can also submit poetry and creative pieces to The Anchor, which is a great way to get some of your work published!

Meet the Faculty!

I would not be leaving Hope nearly as prepared as I am, if I hadn’t taken the time to really engage with the English faculty.  So many of the faculty are willing to help students through the writing process.  For me, this not only provided a lot of academic support but emotional support as well.  As I built relationships with more and more faculty members, I was also building a support system.  

Now, as graduation is right around the corner, and I’m beginning to take on the job market, I have professors who are genuinely interested and invested in my future.  I am able to go to them for application advice, which has been super helpful.  I won’t sugar coat things and pretend like looking for a job has been easy, but having the support of members of the English Department has been helpful in easing the stress of finding a job.

Now that I’m graduating, I still have people asking me what my degree is in and giving me quizzical looks when I say that I’m majoring in English.  However, I can give that answer confidently, knowing that my experience at Hope and the opportunities I’ve had through the English Department have well-equipped me in whatever job I choose to pursue.

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