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June 15th, 2004, 08:10 PM
Well I have just graduated (actually got the diploma in January, but did the formalities last week), so I am seriously looking at my college options. I have already begun college with computers here in town last semester, but now that I am coming up on the big 1-8, I am having some new options opened to me. I am eligible now for financial aid which will allow me to go outside of my little town and get a better education. I am considering a few options now in both the computer/technology field and the writing field.

Now I have one main question, but I will get to that in a moment. Right now, I want to assure you... I know you are going to say that one cannot make a career of writing, that I need to go somewhere else and just do writing on the side. But that is not entirely the case. Yes I would like to write and be published, but that is not my sole goal. Taking this degree will make me a runner for the English and literature field. There are many other opportunities to be gained from such a degree than becoming the next Stephen King.

So, now my question... the college I am looking at now (and did so a few years back as well) is Ball State University here in Indiana. They offer an intriguing Creative Writing Major, but they have an interesting catch to it. You must also complete 4 semesters (or the equivalent to) of a modern or classical language (Greek, Latin). Now first off, why would one need to know a language like this for writing? Secondly, what would be a wise langauge choice?

Thanks in advance!

ironchef texmex
June 15th, 2004, 08:44 PM
Drew, the reason that they do that is because 90-something percent of all college deans have a foot-long crustacean wedged up their netherregions. Oh, sure, they'll tell you that it's because most words in English owe their origins to either Greek or Latin, but that's just the lobsters talking.

If I had to choose between the two I'd probably go with Latin. I think it's had more of an overall impact on our lingo. Besides, you'll be able to read those long stretches of Latin that litter most hoity-toity mainstream books these days.

And sure, you'll hear a few horror stories on this site. Like ol' Willard. He's still waiting to hear back from Baen on the 'script he sent in '62. Then there's Horus-the-grey, who just finished wallpapering his living room in rejection letters. But it's not all bad news. There are still plenty of ways to make a living writing while you wait for your big break. Working for the school paper will get your feet in the journalism door. You can work on your writing skills and get used to annoying people with your presence, two invaluable skills (I was the associate sports editor at UT Austin once upon a time). It also gets you used to living below the poverty line, another mainstay of the wannabe writer (and a few of the established ones for that matter).

Good luck. :)

June 15th, 2004, 09:14 PM
I really didn't think there was much of a logical basis for taking 4 semesters of foreign language, but I figured it was worth asking. Out of them all, I was leaning towards Latin myself. Possibly Japanese, not for writing, but just because of general interest in their culture. Plus I have two years of Japanese already under my belt.

Now, I am having trouble finding state schools that offer creative writing. Most of them are a major in English and a minor in Creative Writing, which I would think is just as good. One needs a good understanding of the grammar of thier language in order to form fluent texts.

Well, I am off to look at some more schools. If anyone has some insight, I would glady accept it. I am hoping for a school here in Indiana, but I may consider others. I am going to run up to the local colleges here in my town (IU East, Purdue, and Ivy Tech) and see what they offer in the way of English or writing. It would probably be wise to stay local for a bit and get some prerequisites out of the way. I am still considering going for my computer degrees though. I guess I need to sit down and sort it all out. :confused: :p

June 16th, 2004, 02:33 PM
I can only think of 2 reasons they'd want you to study a foreign language:

1) They don't have enough viable classes in the Creative Writing field to warrant a true major (that is why most colleges offer only a Creative writing minor)

If you think about it, there aren't many fields in creative writing that would fit in a classroom environment. Most of creative writing can't be taught directly. It must be learned through practice, exposure, and developing an individual style. My college didn't have a creative writing major. In fact, they had exactly six (6) creative writing classes. Beginning writing (short stories), intemediary writing (novellas), and advanced writing (novels) and the same tier for poetry.

2) Because Creative Writing is a humanities degree (as is most everything else except hard sciences and math), most schools require a sort of 'cultural expansion' sort of thing so that students, particularly American students, become aware that they are in fact, NOT the only people in the world. Seems silly, but there are a LOT of people who know jack squat about anything outside of the U.S. and suprisingly little about a lot of things INSIDE the U.S.

June 18th, 2004, 03:42 PM

The reason the program is set up this way is because the degree is intended to give you a broad education in language. In order to understand the finer structure of the English language, you need something to compare it to. Studying a foreign language is not just about learning how to say things. It teaches you about that culture, and about the efficiency of communication.

You'll probably only really appreciate what studying a foreign language teaches you, after you're finished.

If your goal is employment, however, I would stick with the computer/technology field. Just about all programs have elective credits - which will allow you to take the creative writing courses you want. You don't need a degree in English to be a good writer. In my opinion, its far easier to learn "arts" informally, but "science and technology" programs usually require the discipline of a formal learning environment.

I hope this makes sense. Good luck in choosing a school.