You’ve decided to major in English. Congratulations! Now comes the hard part. Now comes the time to choose the right college. There are many factors that go into choosing the right school. They include distance from home, cost, and reputation of the school, etc. Perhaps the most important factor is their English program. After all, the program will be a key factor in getting a job after graduation. A good English program leads to getting a great job.
Ivy League Schools
Of course, there are the Ivy League schools: Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Princeton, and the like. However, these are private institutions and cost money. They are also very prestigious and extremely hard to get into. According to the Harvard Admission’s page, only 2,106 people were admitted out of 39,041 to the class of 2020. The total cost to attend Yale University is $68, 230 for the 2016-2017 school year. Let’s be realistic; most perspective college students will not be going to an Ivy League school.
It’s time to find a school that most students have a chance of getting into and is more affordable. According to Rachel Aldrich, writer for College Magazine, the top 3 schools for English majors are the University of Iowa, the University of California Berkley, and Purdue University. The article was published on June 7, 2016.
University of Iowa
Let’s take a look at these 3 schools individually. According to the University of Iowa’s website, they have have two areas of study for English majors. The first one is “English” and the second one is “English and Creative Writing”. This gives students an opportunity to choose which area they would like to study.
(Above: University of Iowa)
According to Rachel,
Tuition: $21,010 for in-state, $40,796 for out-of-state
Financial Aid: $16,386
Famous Alumni: Eula Biss—prolific nonfiction author and current creative writing professor at Northwestern University
University of Iowa is no stranger to Best-Of lists, and they always seems to crop up more often than Taylor Swift’s bad Grammy’s dancing on any ranking for writers and book-lovers. They host the incredibly prestigious Iowa Writer’s Workshop, with 17 Pulitzer Prize-winning alumni to its credit. Your name could be next to Philip Roth’s one day. Swoon. In addition to a huge course selection that includes an entire class on something called the “Toni Morrison Effect,” they offer the Montpellier Exchange program that brings in faculty from France to teach classes for a year. Oui, merci–that’s all I got. While some student publications have a hard time getting students to actually read their papers rather than just use them as fancy coffee cup placemats, University of Iowa’s newspaper, the Daily Iowan, boasts a nearly 19,500 daily circulation. “We thrive on both the city and university community as our readership, and have to balance our coverage as such,” said Jordyn Reiland, Class of 2015 and Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Iowan. That’s right. Someone out there may actually read your exposé on dining hall food and care.
University of California Berkeley
The second best college is the University of California Berkeley.
(Above: University of California Berkeley)
Financial Aid: average award of over $16,000 (helps to cover room & board and additional costs)
Famous Alumni: Joan Didion
University of California Berkeley is a veritable breeding ground for creative talent. Home to 80+ different student publication and media groups, UC Berkeley definitely knows how to inspire English students. I mean, they have former U.S. Poet Laureate–yes, the government does still pay people to write poetry–Robert Hass on staff. If you love to write but mostly just want to learn about books, then they have a top-notch interdisciplinary creative writing program available to English students. And yes, I know you aren’t thinking about post-grad plans yet, but Berkeley’s Ph.D program in English is top-rated. Not a bad idea to get thinking about that now.
The third best college for English majors is Purdue University.
(Above: Purdue University)
For this college, Rachel writes,
Tuition: $10,002 for in-state, $28,804 for out-of-state, $30,964 for international
Financial Aid: average package of $12,530
Featured Alumni: Rob Davidson—published two collections of short stories and a scholarly book before becoming associate professor of English at California State University
Anyone who’s ever had to write a research paper knows about Purdue University. Yes, this is the Purdue of Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab) citations-format fame. Not only does it provide a killer online writing resource to struggling college students everywhere, but Purdue gives English students the choice of not one, but four different bachelor’s programs. Creative Writing, Professional Writing, English Literature and English Education are all available. Take your pick, bookworms. And if you’re a poet and you know it, then Purdue University has a great program called the Looseleaf Writing Workshop Series that allows staffers from their Sycamore Review and students in the writing program to teach writing workshops to the Lafayette community. The best way to spread English cheer… is to go host-writing workshops, I guess.
Again, many factors go into choosing a college: the cost, the location, the reputation of the school and of your major, etc. Ultimately, the decision is up to you; however, I wouldn’t be a true Northern Illinois University Huskie if I didn’t recommend my soon-to-be alma mater.
(Above: Northern Illinois University)
The following is taken from NIU’s English Department website:
Welcome to the English Department at NIU! We offer courses in literature, linguistics, English education, film, ESL (English as a Second Language), and rhetoric as well as in creative, technical, and professional writing. Students in our department learn the analytical skills employers value, and they engage in conversations about critical issues. Our study abroad programs in Dublin and Oxford win rave reviews from participants, while internships present opportunities to gain professional experience.
I hope this article gave you some insight as to what to look for in a college and some good options. Good Luck!