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How an English Degree Can Enrich Your Future

Choosing a major in college can be overwhelming. Many of us may know we want to pursue higher education, but we’re not sure in which subject.

Luckily, community college welcomes curiosity and exploration. Even better, there are many degrees that will benefit you no matter which path you take after graduation. 

Today, we’ll take a look at the Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) in English at San José City College. We’ll explore the many benefits of becoming an English major, and how it can set you up for a successful future.

“English is essentially learning to be a good reader, a good writer, and a good communicator.”

Charles Heimler, SJCC English faculty

An Introduction to the English Degree

When you chose to pursue an English degree, you can expect to take courses in the following areas:

  • Writing 
  • Composition
  • Literature 
  • Poetry 
  • Fiction 
  • Non-Fiction
  • Creative Writing

What’s great about an English degree is you can make it what you want. While there are always a set of required courses, there’s typically a lot of flexibility. 

For example, if you love fiction but are less interested in poetry, you can choose more classes that focus on novels or sci-fi. Also, if you know you prefer analyzing and deciphering texts, you can take more literature courses and less creative writing.

You can even pursue your interests based on the more nuanced subject matter of each class. With so many great authors to read, you’ll never be bored as an English major.

Bachelor Degree Options for English Majors

It’s also important to note that getting an AA in English opens doors for lots of degrees beyond a BA in English (though this is a great option too). When you’re pursuing an Associate’s in English, you can take your time deciding between the different branches of the discipline that we mentioned above.

You may want to transfer to a 4-year university, where your English courses at community college fulfill the general requirements for English, Literature, Poetry, or even Creative Writing. You might even want to transfer with an English degree but then seek out another humanities program (since English provides a great foundation for many). Of course, it’s best to consult with a counselor or advisor about how this works for your school’s program.

How an English Degree Can Enrich Your Future

There are plenty of reasons to pursue an Associate of Arts in English. It can set you on a path to a Bachelor’s degree and success in your career. Let’s see how.

Gain Valuable Professional Skills to Enhance Your Career Potential

Studying English can help you become a more thoughtful, curious, and well-rounded individual. It can also provide you with the hard skills to flourish in many careers.

Charles Heimler, who has also taught at Santa Clara University, has been a full-time faculty member in the English Department at SJCC since the mid-90s. In an interview, Heimler said, “English is essentially learning to be a good reader, a good writer, and a good communicator.”

Faculty member Noe Torres, who was an English student at SJCC himself, echoed a similar sentiment. “These skills prepare students for an array of professional fields,” Torres said.

Common disciplines that students pursue after getting their AA in English are: 

  • English
  • Law
  • Education
  • Journalism
  • Communications 

English is also a great choice if you know you want to pursue a graduate degree. For instance, if you want to be a lawyer or a doctor, you can set yourself apart from the political science and biology majors by picking up an English degree.

“Every profession, engineers, doctors, lawyers… have to do so much writing,” Heimler said. “And if you’re an ESL student and you have an AA in English, that certifies to a future employer that your English skills are really good. And then you turn what may be a deficiency of English as a second language into an asset.” 

Prepare for Success at a 4-Year University

Completing an English degree offers you a great foundation in any humanities degree. It also prepares you for the rigor of a 4-year university, regardless of the subject. 

“When students major in English, they are learning to read critically and synthesize research, while making historical and cultural connections,” said Torres. This is a skill that will certainly boost your chances at success at a 4-year college.

Heimler, who teaches several core English requirements at SJCC also said, “wherever students go in their path in college and university, they have to do a lot of reading, writing, and thinking.” After completing an AA in English, you’ll be more than prepared for the challenge.

“[Students] will engage in the investigation of the human condition through a philosophical lens, a sociological lens, or an ethical lens.”

Noe Torres, SJCC English faculty

English at San José City College

The English Department at San José City College has the potential to help you secure your future, broaden your horizons, and inspire you to achieve more. While any English degree has a lot to offer, the program at SJCC is particularly unique. This is largely due to the community that it’s made of.

Expand Your Horizons

At SJCC, students can choose from a wide variety of diverse literature courses. To name a few: Women’s Literature, African American Literature, Mexican American Literature, and Early American Literature. In these classes, Torres said, students “will engage in the investigation of the human condition through a philosophical lens, a sociological lens, or an ethical lens.”

“Through the pages of a fictional text, we can explore such matters,” Torres said. “If anything, the content of these literature courses gives students an indication of how valuable it is to synthesize what they are learning in English and other programs on campus,” Torres said.

Get Inspired

With such diverse class offerings, every student can find an author or faculty member that inspires them. “When I talk to students that are currently in the program, they share the same gravitational pull that attracted me to literature—faculty’s love and enthusiasm for the subject,” Torres said.

What’s more, the instructors leading these courses come from varied backgrounds. “Our full-time staff, our associate staff, we represent the mosaic of people that live in San José and in California,” said Heimler. “I’m proud of that accomplishment.” 

“Students benefit by, you know, as they say, having someone that looks like them as their teacher, but then also having someone that doesn’t look like them, that represents a whole different perspective,” Heimler continued.

“…the content of these literature courses gives students an indication of how valuable it is to synthesize what they are learning…”

Noe Torres

The English Department’s pioneering faculty members have also remained highly involved on campus over the years. Collectively, they have founded or collaborated with the Puente Program, the International Students Club, Umoja, Safe Spaces, The Gay-Straight Alliance, and many more. 

Additionally, most of them have been community college students themselves. Therefore, they can further relate to students, encouraging them with greater empathy. While many students aspire to teach or pursue more peripheral careers, budding authors can also find inspiration in SJCC’s faculty, as many are published authors.

Secure Your Future

All of our Associate’s Degrees for Transfer (AD-T), including our English degree, are part of the Degree with A Guarantee Program. We are able to offer this thanks to the partnership with California Community Colleges.

When you complete your general and English major requirements with a 2.0 or higher, you are guaranteed a spot at a select number of California State Universities (CSUs). Choosing this route at a bay area community college will drastically reduce your education costs if you plan to transfer to a 4-year university.

Unleash Your Brilliance as an English Major at  SJCC

Whether you’re hoping to improve your English, transfer to a 4-year university, or become a teacher – an English degree will take you far. What’s more, San José City College may be the perfect place to begin an exciting path as an English major.

If you want to learn to think critically, read analytically, and improve your written and verbal communication skills, check out SJCC’s English Department today. While you’re at it, you may also want to take a look at our other transfer degrees in communication studies, history, and sociology!

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