Deciding on a major and picking out a college were the stressful parts of the process. Now, the fun part begins: it’s time to pick out classes. For me, this was the most exciting part of college. I loved looking over the class description and seeing what I would be learning. Unfortunately, this is my last semester, and I won’t be picking out new classes anymore.
Depending on what type of English degree you’re getting, you’ll need to pick classes that will benefit you the most. For example, I am getting an English degree in the writing track. Hence, many of my classes have a lot of writing.
I also had to select classes that would benefit me most in the workforce. So, I chose to take a lot of technical writing classes. I learned how to write memos, how to write grant proposals, how to write research proposals, how to write procedural documents, etc. My adviser told me those skills were extremely valuable to potential employers.
Some of my classmates took creative writing classes instead of technical writing. Personally, I find those classes interesting, but they seem invaluable. Unless you’re going to be a poet or an author, it might be hard to find a job if you only took those classes.
Northern Illinois University’s Class Offerings
At Northern Illinois University, students can choose from three different English tracks: Studies in Literature, Secondary Licensure in English Language Arts, and Studies in Writing. I am in the Writing track.
The following is a sample of classes from the Studies in Writing track:
Track 3. English Studies in Writing
Students majoring in Studies in Writing are strongly encouraged to balance technical and creative writing classes to assemble a portfolio that demonstrates the fullest range of practices in writing. Internships are highly recommended for students serious about a writing career. Students will ground their writing in a substantive understanding of language analysis, literary analysis, critical thinking, and the major literary genres. Students may also earn the certificate of undergraduate study in Creative Writing.
If the required 39 credit hours in English are satisfied, additional course work in writing may include the following:
- COMS 300 – Speech Writing Credits: 3
- COMS 355 – Media Writing Credits: 3
- COMS 466 – Narrative Scriptwriting Credits: 3
- JOUR 200A – Basic News Writing Credits: 3
- JOUR 200B – Basic News Writing Credits: 3
- JOUR 301 – Article Writing Credits: 3
- JOUR 302 – News Reporting Credits: 3
- JOUR 401 – Editorial and Opinion Writing Credits: 3
- THEA 481 – Playwriting I Credits: 3
- THEA 482 – Playwriting Studio Credits: 3
- Students should consult with the English department adviser about selecting courses outside the department.
- ENGL 200 – Literary Study: Research and Criticism Credits: 3
- ENGL 207 – Fundamentals of English Grammar Credits: 3
- ENGL 300 – Advanced Essay Composition Credits: 3 A. General
- OR ENGL 300 – Advanced Essay Composition Credits: 3 B. Pre-Law
- OR ENGL 300 – Advanced Essay Composition Credits: 3 C. Licensure in Teaching
- ENGL 304 – Writing Arts Criticism Credits: 3
- ENGL 350 – Writing across the Curriculum Credits: 3
- ENGL 398 – Topics in the Practice and Theory of Composition Credits: 3
- ENGL 401 – Writing Poetry II Credits: 3
- ENGL 402 – Writing Fiction II Credits: 3
- ENGL 424 – Topics in Technical Writing Credits: 1-3
- ENGL 493 – Writing Creative Nonfiction II Credits: 3
- ENGL 496 – Internship in Writing, Editing, or Training Credits: 1-6
Some of my classes such as Chaucer, Linguistics, and Literary Nonfiction seemed unimportant at the time. At the beginning of the semester, I kept asking myself what good these classes would do. Turns out, they were extremely beneficial. In those classes, we were required to write at least two essays throughout the semester. Those essays taught me how to think more critically and how to analyze a piece of literature.
Depending on what college you choose, the class selections will vary. My advice is to talk to your adviser and listen to their input. This will also benefit you when it comes time for graduation. If you go to your adviser at the beginning of every semester, you lessen the chance that you will be missing a class required to get your degree.