The next time some small-minded and undereducated nincompoop asks, "So what on God's green earth are you going to do with your English/Classics/History/fill-in-the-blank degree??" you'll be in good shape if you can defend the merits of a liberal arts education as forcefully as this gal. An excerpt:
Being an English major means you can write grammatically correct and half-coherent sentences without overusing exclamation marks. Being an English major means you are cognizant of the difference between "your" and "you're"; "their," "there," and "they're"; and "discrete" and "discreet." Being an English major means you can use the word "cognizant" without looking it up. Being an English major means you won't be laughed out of a job interview for sending in a rÃ©sumÃ© and cover letter with any of the above errors.
Being an English major means you can read the works of Austen, Dickens, Achebe, Sophocles, Levi (and that's Primo, not Strauss, for you non-English majors out there), Orwell, Melville, Shakespeare, Rabelais and still have mental power for poetry, analysis, history, context, meaning, and complete comprehension. Being an English major means you can read eight novels per lit class, which amounts to one hundred thirty-six in four years. Do I even have to note that that's more books than some people will ever read in their adult lifetime? Being an English major means you can read one hundred thirty-six books in four years and remember characters, themes, plots, motifs, language, literary criticism, and vocabulary. Being an English major means you can read one hundred thirty-six books in four years and write all the accompanying papers about the characters, themes, plots, motifs, language, literary criticism, and vocabulary.
Being an English major means you can speak well, think critically, and ingest -- as well as comprehend -- large amounts of information. Being an English major means the whole world is open to you because you haven't pigeonholed yourself in a narrow-minded, restricted career path.
What I don't necessarily recommend is pursuing a graduate degree in the humanities -- that's a hard, hard way to go professionally. But undergrad? At an institution that takes liberal arts education seriously? Heck yeah. The distinction does matter, as she points out:
However, and it is almost pedestrian to point this out, your English major does actually depend a great deal on the institution that conferred it upon you. For instance, getting your degree at Podunk College, Any City, Any State, USA, where the only degree requirement is to write "literature" five times in a bluebook is quite a bit different from graduation from say, my alma mater, the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. I'm sorry to be a snob, Ã©litest, or to actually have to acknowledge that some institutions are better than others, but there you are.