Well, since you asked: an advice column

opinionsBy Briana Wheeler
Staff Writer

Dear Briana,

I’m a junior English major who’s having serious second thoughts. I want to be a high school English teacher because I want to inspire kids, and I don’t think reading medieval or renaissance literature is getting me closer to my goal. I just feel like I have to kill my passion a little bit every time I have to write a paper. At this point, I’m tempted to just stick it out. What do you think?

Major Doubts

Dear Major Doubts,

I hate the thought of someone pursuing a major simply because they feel as if that’s the right thing to do or that it’s their only viable option. Based on your question, I get the sense that you want to teach because you want to form connections with students, and you want to teach English because you enjoy it and believe it has a lot to offer to young people.

I’m sure that makes your struggles within the major very confusing, so I’ll give you some insight I was once given. At the grade school level, the teacher’s primary focus is the student and how best to inspire them to learn and make it through school. But at the university level, the professor’s main focus is their subject of specialty. Our major’s goal is to teach literature as a discipline, not teach us how to teach literature. In light of this, you have several options that will help you accomplish your goal.

My main advice is to talk with your advisor or another trusted mentor who knows you and has a better sense of how things work in the outside world. In addition, maybe think about pursuing a major that studies people and what motivates them, such as psychology or anthropology. You can continue to take English classes in your preferred field as well. Ultimately, do what brings you the most joy and the least amount of turmoil.

Hope this helps,

Dear Briana,

I’m having a little trouble getting back into the groove of things. I’m excited to start sophomore year, but I feel like everything I’ve done is a little off. I love my friends and my classes are fine, but how do I stop feeling like I do everything just because it’s routine?

Crying under the bed,
Ice King

Dear Ice King,

Sophomore year is an interesting time. Sometimes, a first instinct may be to return to Sewanee and attempt to re-establish comfortable patterns that made your freshman year enjoyable. However, you aren’t a freshman anymore; a lot may have changed over the course of last year and the summer. Several factors cause routine changes by default, such as a new class schedule or living in a different residence hall. Add personal growth into the mix, and those familiar habits start to feel restrictive rather than encouraging.

There’s still an incredible amount of adjustment that occurs during sophomore year, and my advice would be to embrace it. Try joining a new club, sitting in a different section of McClurg, or walking right up to a person who made a comment you connected with in class and tell them how it made you feel.

You never know exactly what little moments will spark new friendships or unforgettable experiences, and the best part is you can bring everything you loved about freshman year with you. There will be a little bit of discomfort, but that’s okay. Everyone else feels it too– no one is immune to growth.

No need to cry,