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What’s an English Grad to Do?

Professors and Students Talk Life After College

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Students appreciate learning more about their professors’ academic backgrounds as they make decisions about life after college.

By Julia Gavin

So you’ve earned a bachelor’s degree in English, now what?

To help students answer that never-ending question, the English Department hosted a discussion panel where professors and students spoke freely about their experiences and questions about life after college.
With recent graduates working in a wide range of areas including teaching, marketing and public relations, news reporting, technical writing, theater arts and much more, Prof. Bridget Marshall says that the current students have many options because their skills are highly transferable. To narrow the discussion, the panel focused on graduate school, teaching, writing and working in theatre from several new professors in the department.

“This year, we have so many more faculty members with a wider range of expertise than we have had in the past,” says Marshall, who organized the panel. “That change has made a huge difference in our panels and it’s clear that student interest is up.”

The panel, held in the newly renovated department’s meeting room on the fourth floor of O’Leary Library, featured Prof. Vera Ossen of the UMass Lowell Graduate School of Education, Prof. Todd Tietchen on MA/PhD literature programs, Prof. Shelley Barrish on theater programs and Prof. Maggie Dietz on MFA programs. Several other professors offered advice on financial aid, entrance tests, relocating for school and balancing studies with work and life obligations.

Students Appreciate Shared Experiences

In addition to answering questions, many of the professors shared stories from their own decision-making after undergraduate school. Concerned by the competitive job market and some difficult financial situations, the students appreciated the opportunity to hear from professors who have been in their shoes.

“Producing a writing sample for graduate school applications while completing my last year of school is overwhelming and I’m considering whether I should take a year off or continue on now,” says Chynna Lemire. “It’s very exciting though, and it was nice to hear more opinions from the panel.”

Amanda McGlivray, who wants to study literature after graduating, shares Lemire’s excitement for the challenges ahead.
“I really want to read and do research and this gave me a clearer understanding of the preparation that is needed to get into a literature program,” says McGlivray. “Also, it’s nice to hear their experiences since they’ve been in the same boat as us.”