Upon commencement of my first semester at Western Illinois University-Quad Cities (WIU-QC), I found myself unprepared—the areas of study that would consume much of my time, money, and focus for the following two to three years were still undetermined. As the Liberal Arts and Sciences student advisor and I met in his office, he charged me with the daunting task of pinpointing which three academic domains would comprise my Paired Minor Emphasis degree. Embracing the unique opportunity to choose three minors in place of one major would satisfy my desire for a comprehensive intellectual awareness – the single definitive standard personally placed on my education.
Eventually, I selected Communications and Psychology to constitute two-thirds of the program, leaving the last third to float around my head with dozens of other options. I initially doubted the positive impact of an English minor, but my advisor’s attestation to its value persuaded me otherwise. Having maintained the decision to include English in my collegiate career for nearly two years, I’ve noticed its enhancement not only of my other minors, but of the skills fundamental to my individual fulfillment apart from academia.
Implicit in its name, the Communications minor is centered on building students’ ability to portray and exchange information proficiently. The skill to effectively communicate information has proven its utility to be ubiquitously relevant. In my experience, successful management of private, academic, and vocational life is often dependent on communication.
Incidentally, among the skills learned under an English minor’s guidance is the competency to compose the expression of ideas, opinions, and other thoughts in an organized and logical manner. Although my topics of interest may vary from subject to subject, the organizational competence I’ve acquired through WIU-QC’s English program clearly transfers to my Communications minor. Additionally, its extensive coverage of diversified literature and other subject matter cultivates an awareness of different communication styles and their respective merits.
While English supplements my Communications minor by way of organizational instruction, it enhances my Psychology minor by mandating the analysis of various literary works. Literature depicting human identity saturates the realm of written work, so its prevalence among my English classes is expected. The connection between Psychology and English is apparent in this regard, but I find the practice of building an argument about said identity to be most useful in completing Psychology coursework. Though not identical, the processes are similar – ideas, as hypotheses, are tested through analysis and sufficient evidence is obtained to support a literary assertion as it is to support a treatment proposal, for example.
However, my English minor lends its versatility to focuses other than Communications and Psychology. Generally speaking, the experiences I’ve had in its context have improved my critical thinking skills and enhanced my mental flexibility and creativity, all of which have proven to benefit each facet of my life at one point or another. Further, these qualities lay a firm foundation for the myriad of occupational endeavors available to be pursued.
From Communications and Psychology to my experiences outside of academia, the English minor has strengthened each area of study as well as directly impacting other components of my life. Ironically, the subject that I originally had little interest in has become the most enjoyable part of attaining my degree. It continues to supplement my intellectual activity and progresses the fulfillment of personal arenas separate from my degree program.