Ah, English. We speak it everyday and chances are you’re passionate about it if you’ve decided to major in it. Or in some cases you had nothing else to choose (that’s hurtful but hey it’s true).
For me I chose English because I loved it in school and thought it would be a breeze. It’s not. It’s actually pretty difficult. Here’s a few tips for coping as an English major.
1) Get Your Reading List Early- I’ve heard other English majors tell me how they love reading but personally I’ve always struggled through my assigned readings. It’s a good idea to get the list of readings early so you know what to expect when it comes to your workload. Email your lecture or the administration to ask for a list. Worse case scenario you get a refusal. Best case scenario you know the books you’re expected to read and can start looking for them early.
2) Compare Book Prices- My campus bookstore is always ridiculously expensive. It works out easier to either buy the books secondhand, online (Takealot and Readers Warehouse usually have reasonable prices for their college books) or even to borrow a copy from your campus library.
3) Read the Book- I’ve seen so many people simply ignore the book they’re studying and it just irritates me. Those people chose English as an elective but their lack of interest was disappointing. How do you expect to write a test or exam when you know nothing about the material being tested? No matter how boring the book is, reading it on your own allows you to form your own opinions that you can include and support in your assignments.
4) Practice Your Writing- Start a blog, keep a diary, write extensive notes. Do something to help improve your writing. Practicing your writing in even a small way allows you to express yourself better and makes for better essays.
5) Proofread Essays- Always check your work before you hand them in. If there’s an option for a lecturer or tutor to read over your work, take it! They’ve been around longer than you have and who knows what is expected of you better than someone in the department?
6) Use Sparknotes- Most of my lecturers take their slides and notes from Sparknotes. I don’t know if they’re taking it directly from the site or if the site simply has the same work but reading Sparknotes makes understanding work so much easier.
7) Take Advantage of Office Hours- If there’s anything you don’t understand, make an appointment to visit your lecturer or tutor privately. I’ve seen students make silly errors simply because of a misunderstanding of the text that could have been cleared.
Are you an English major? What are your tips for a successful semester?