Why Write Well?

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There is a growing trend in the business world of interviewing English majors for key positions.  But not only can you score points in the corporate world with your English degree: graduate schools are looking at more and more English and History majors, for the simple reason that these majors require good writing skills and demand logical, well-researched, and well-documented papers from their students.  This gives English majors the edge in areas as diverse as law and the sciences (although obviously you would need some science background in there, too!).

The premise is quite simple, too: good sentence structure requires clear thinking; effective writing requres logical development of ideas.  It would seem to be too obvious to be commented on, wouldn’t it?  However, since as far back as the eighties, the corporate world has been bemoaning the lack of competent writing skills they are finding in more and more job applications.  This trend continues (see Kimball-Stanley, “English majors’ communication skills in demand” Seattlepi.com  Monday June 5, 2006).  So don’t think those freshman English courses were a waste of time — you were adding vital usable and useful skills to your repertoire.

The fact that many graduate schools are also favoring qualified students who also exhibit a strong background in the Humanities is an indicator, however, of the sad fact that high schools are no longer producing students who can write effectively.  I recently published a full article on this topic here and, while I don’t want to duplicate too much of the content on this site, I invite you to visit; it’s called “Ways to Make Your English Major More Attractive to Businesses,”  and I wrote it in answer to a request from a student who was worried that no one would want to hire an English major. Nothing could be further from the truth (as long as you also have a good head for business, of course!).

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