Whenever I meet someone new there is always the inevitable conversation topic of where I go to school and what I am studying. “Oh you go to BU,” they’ll say, “what’s your major?” I respond, “English and Philosophy.” This always seems baffle people, they look at me as if to say, “why do you want to study that? In this job market?” As if there was a preconceived understanding that there are only a few “real” majors. I’ve noticed that my science, business, and engineering friends don’t get this reaction whenever they tell someone what they’re are studying, leaving the humanities majors to shift uncomfortably in undeserved embarrassment.
Well I’m here to right a wrong, and make clear an issue that a lot of people tend to take for granted. When it comes to the many skills that people can choose to hone in order to make themselves a desirable candidate for almost any professional career, writing is by far the most useful. And this isn’t my own humble opinion either, when you compare the number of science students being accepted to top medical schools to the number of english and philosophy students being accepted to top medical schools, the results may surprise you. English majors beat out the science majors every year. Why is this the case? The answer good reader, is writing.
Writing is crucial to our everyday lives and professions. In any endeavor you might undertake: a term paper, a dissertation, a novel, or even a project proposal, writing takes precedence as the key medium through which we communicate our ideas. True, being a well spoken individual is impressive, but writing is by far a more demanding form of expression than verbal communication. You probably have experienced this first hand, what seems like an incredible idea will pop into your head and you will try to convey it verbally. Now try and write down that idea and try to be as clear and concise as possible. You’ve probably found that once you sit down at your desk, or wherever you do most of your work, your idea, which was once so clear and well thought out, is suddenly muddied with vague assertions and half baked phrases that you thought would sound great on the page. Still don’t believe me? Well how about another example.
Tape record a conversation you have with one of your friends, or even better, Turn on CNN or FOX, or MSNBC. Write down word for word what the newscasters or you and your friend say. The result will be an incoherent babble of ambiguous buzzwords that carry little to no meaning.
The truth is unavoidable. Writing simply demands a higher level of cognitive thinking to produce clear and concise ideas, that no other form of expression requires. Because of this undeniable truth, everyone, and I mean everyone, should know how to write. Not just for professional purposes, but so that we can better understand each other as human beings. Who are we? What do we believe? What do we want? It’s crucial that the answers to these fundamental question are clear to everyone, which means that when it comes to intelligent and humane discourse good writing is the cement holding the building together.
Stay active, writers.