There is no doubt that the UCR English major is one of the most versatile to study. From acting out plays and analyzing movies to diving into close readings of literature, the major offers you an extensive toolkit to pick from. However, the caveat to this wonderfulness is a tendency to become overwhelmed with the range of projects English courses will strike upon us lovely students. As someone who transitioned into the major in the middle of his third year, here are a few tips I have used to help navigate my studies and prepare for my future as a graduate!

  1. Read for Fun!

An obvious fact for English courses is the necessity of reading. More specifically, close reading and analysis are two of the key skills needed for understanding and interpreting important works. And why not warm up your eyes with more casual material before getting to the heavy hitters?

As a long-time anime enthusiast, manga and especially light novels became a natural practice in this regard. Getting to practice spotting motifs, metaphors and symbolisms through familiar media allows readers to study the inner workings of works in a fun way! And the extra practice gets us ready to dig into multi-faceted, larger works like Frankenstein and Paradise Lost.

  1. Google Scholar

Google Scholar has become my bible when it comes to reading academic research. With citations and sources built into these pieces, the website is a great starting place to find a plethora of peer-reviewed studies. These papers, then, can serve as inspirations and foundation for your next writing assignments which helps not only your confidence in your interpretations, but also gives you more practice in reading.

Exploring these works will also help you understand what concentrations of English interest you the most. Readings on historical periods, analysis on speculative fiction and interpretations of your favorite authors’ literature all await you on this godly site.

  1. Consume Media in other languages

One of the requirements to graduate with a degree in English for UCR is to take a course in a foreign language. And this obligation is also a wonderful opportunity to explore language in itself through an entirely different lens. Interacting with movies, shows and music in other languages allows you to break down your understanding of how people articulate their words and express themselves.

  1. Always try to attend your professor’s office hours

Every professor will have a different way of how they look at English, due to the fluid nature of the subject. Therefore, one professor can have a very different approach to grading your essays than another, even if it comes to seemingly smaller details like how you utilize sources. To secure your grade means to be able to understand the distinct perspectives that your teachers will have on the reading material, which also builds a greater foundation for how we learn from these works, ourselves.

Also, professors are an amazing resource for networking. The academic sphere can lead to multiple job and internship opportunities that can help students find post-graduate jobs!

  1. Get involved in clubs and organizations!

With the immensely broad nature of English, it is overwhelming when trying to figure out what future career will lie ahead of your path. What is interesting to you? What is fun for you? And what is important for you?

The English Majors Association is a club that has plenty of opportunities to meet alumni and explore career options. Or would you want to try to find more specific experiences? A competitive club like Highlander Mock Trial thrusts students into litigation, giving people the chance to explore law, debate, and public speaking.

Finding your niche or specialization is important as an English major, as it allows us to develop more relevant experiences later on. Through these club meetings, events and gatherings we are able to find peers to work alongside and mentors to help guide us (and write our recommendation letters). And the best ways to start finding these clubs and organizations are to browse through them on Wednesdays at tabling or search them up on Highlander Link.