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Q&A - English Colleges & Universities

What are the top brick-and-mortar and online colleges and universities for English?

Top English colleges are ranked annually by U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review, among others. You can use these rankings to find the top colleges for English, since they are often based on student assessment as well as professional criteria. If you compare different ranking systems and find similar results, it may make it easier to identify the best English online colleges or the top on-campus schools.

U.S. News & World Report ranked schools by English department performance, resulting in a mix of private and public schools that include accredited online colleges for English. In the top 5, University of California at Berkeley ranked first, followed by Stanford University, Yale University, Columbia University and Harvard University.

You may also refer to U.S. News & World Report for a much broader “best colleges” category. In 2012, the top 5 best liberal arts colleges were Amherst College, Swarthmore College, Pomona College, Middlebury College and Bowdoin College.

If you are looking for another way to measure universities, The Princeton Review publishes a best value category. In 2012, the top 3 public schools were University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Virginia and New College of Florida. The top 3 private schools were Williams College, Swarthmore College and Princeton University.

What extracurricular activities should I pursue when I am studying English in college?

Undergraduate English departments provide extracurricular opportunities for students pursuing a bachelor degree in English, including the English honors society Sigma Tau Delta. Many schools also host an English society that stages poetry readings, field trips and social functions. All English universities have some type of student publication such as a newspaper or literary journal, and working for and publishing in them add bullet points to resumes.

The best English colleges strive to provide English majors with work experience as well as other outside interests. English majors can pursue hobbies and hone skills by serving in an executive fashion for a special-interest group like choir or athletics. These entities all use publicity managers, website assistance and newsletter authors and editors. Top English universities may also have study abroad options within the English department.

Accredited online colleges for English lack the extracurricular options that traditional students enjoy. However, many organizations independently recruit English majors for internships and jobs. Examples of this are Delta’s in-flight Sky Magazine, local opera or theatre companies, local television or radio stations, the American Red Cross, municipal arts councils, the Walt Disney World College program and some publishing houses. Writers’ collectives and press clubs also operate outside of academia and offer networking and experience in the field.

What volunteer opportunities will I have at my brick-and-mortar or online English university?

Volunteer opportunities unique to English majors offer on-the-job experience. The best English colleges will provide you with resources that allow you to sharpen your job skills and make contacts in the field. The following is a sampling of some volunteer programs that English majors at accredited online colleges or traditional campuses may enjoy.

The Globe Theatre in London offers English majors The Globe Experience, a 2-week summer volunteer program. Students work part time as ushers and experience live Renaissance theatre. Some schools offer travel scholarships for this program.

The Pacific Northwest Writers Association (PNWA) hosts a summer conference that is a unique combination of seminars and editor-writer collaborations. The PNWA offers English majors jobs assisting at this conference. Volunteers may also attend seminars or pitch a story to an editor.

SpeakUp! is an awareness program targeted toward the teen LBGT community. Volunteers are needed to write and update web content, draft news releases and newsletter articles and manage events and event planning.

Municipal groups may use English students for community outreach. Volunteers can serve as after school tutors or assist in adult literacy projects and book drives. These volunteer organizations reach out specifically to English students for assistance.

If you attend an English university and want to travel, the Global Volunteer Network offers you a unique opportunity. Volunteers travel to Vietnam and assist in conversational English classes for Vietnamese students. Volunteers are not required to have teaching experience or a teaching degree.