If anyone asks, I do know that no one really cares that I have a Master’s Degree in English. Yes, it’s an interesting talking point and theoretically, I *should* have been paid more at my last day job because I had it, but that never happened. Not that it mattered. My Master’s Degree didn’t really make me any better at the job than any of my co-workers.
My Master’s Degree would not help me get a job any more than a Bachelor’s would (except for teaching at a community college but I don’t have any teaching experience, so that’s out). My Master’s Degree gets me a *little* attention for potential editing clients, but since most of them are all indie authors all perfectly happy to operate outside of the traditional path, an advanced degree is not a must-have.
Sometimes I look at the total in school loans I still have due and think, “Man, that was a lot of money to spend on something no one cares about.” It seems illogical. Impractical.
But most of the time, even if I’m in the minority of thinking this, I believe that getting a Master’s Degree in English was my best investment.
Here’s why: I think that my experience in graduate school taught me the critical thinking, problem-solving and writing skills that have allowed me to build my blog and pursue my own path.
Hiring English majors seems like an easy choice for any industry. As I mentioned in a recent interview, “Let’s be honest. People are idiots. If you can write with proper spelling and grammar you are already ahead of a giant portion of America. If you can ALSO think critically (about a problem, text, etc) you’re doing even better.”
I got a few questions on social media about this, that I thought you all might be interested in:
What skills did you learn in traditional schooling that applies well to your non traditional career path?
Thinking. No, seriously. Graduate school in particular taught me how to think critically, how to examine all aspects of a problem, articulate the holes or flaws and come up with solutions. These are skills that anyone could use, but solo entrepreneurs in particular.
Would you recommend other bloggers getting a Masters?
Nope. Not unless you have a couple years of time to kill and someone else is paying for it. If you’re smart enough to get a graduate degree, you are also smart enough to teach yourself this stuff without going $30,000+ into debt.
Want to understand people? Read literary fiction. I feel like I have gleaned so many life lessons just from the Anne of Green Gables series.
Was it hard to shake off the academic dust from your subsequent writing?
Yes, ish? Since I had been blogging (read: casual writing) for years I think I had a pretty good balance away from the strict, formal academic writing. It’s nice, actually, that I learned about having a thesis, and making the subsequent paragraphs support that thesis. Not all that different from writing a sales page, actually.
So, yes, I know that getting a Master’s Degree in English and then following my current career path may not have been the most practical choice to most people, I still think that it was a solid investment. My full experience in college and how I feel about having a graduate degree in English is detailed more in this interview here.
Emily is collecting interviews from English majors, talking about how their degree has helped their current career. Check them out here.