Content editing as a career prospect

I’m a grade 12 student in a CBSE school and am willing to apply for English literature to universities in the UK. 
I am interested in editing as a career prospect, therefore should I be looking for anything specific in the course modules and whether I should opt for English with creative writing or just English literature. 
Also, will being a cbse student put me at a disadvantage for a degree which requires a background in higher level understanding of literature as offered by IGCSE, and IB curricula?

Bulbul Malik


At the outset, I must admit your query is not only extremely interesting but also multifaceted with no one answer.

The role of an editor is to safeguard the written quality of publications be it online or print. Duties include selecting content, formatting, checking for grammar and factual errors, assisting with design layout and overseeing the publication.  

 Potential editors need to identify their area of expertise as that will define their study pattern. Book editors should enjoy literature while fashion editors should be interested in fashion. Content editors should fine tune their writing skills whilst copy editors should seek to improve their grammar as they will be responsible for proofreading. Similarly television editors should interested in film and mass communication.

 A college degree in English, journalism, creative writing or communication is usually a prerequisite for the job. While students will learn about composition, sentence structure and editing it is important they possess strong communication and grammar skills. In today’s electronic era knowledge of computers and editing software is essential for web management and layout. It may be better to select a liberal arts college for undergraduate degree, since the curriculum covers a broader knowledge base. 

Alternately, students can complete an undergraduate degree in any discipline that interests them with a minor in Journalism or Creative Writing, since media companies prefer job applicants with a major in specific subject area. Whilst in school it would be a good idea to be actively involved with the student newspaper or any other communication media that exists in school. 

 It is also advisable to hone your writing, editing and researching skills by working as an intern with the local newspaper.  This practical outreach will not only help with your decision and but also gauge your interest and passion for this discipline. Editing can be a very demanding profession requiring long hours including nights and weekends especially when deadlines are around the corner and it is possible the passion evaporates quite fast. Editors are often self-employed as they work as freelancers.  

 Studying literature in college is not a bad idea but you should supplement it with other skill sets and knowledge in different fields. 

 The English major will help you with analyzing fiction, non-fiction and other forms of literature. In Journalism you will learn to report on news and events and with communication studies you will learn to use the written word as a marketing and promotional tool.

 To be a good editor, you should know a little bit of lot of things as you could editing a book on romance today and tomorrow it could be science fiction or a novel or even a travelogue. Knowledge and interest in varied fields is always positive for a successful editor. Read voraciously; read books outside your comfort zone; edit a published book; write a story; read on the art of writing and phrases; learn to identify clichés and learn to manipulate words. Choose what you read carefully – read newspapers for structure, read fiction for empathy and creativity and read non-fiction for historical context and insight.

 While choosing a University consider the opportunities available on campus – student run newspapers, radio stations or student run advertising agencies. Bear in mind bigger cities tend to offer more opportunities for print publications and internships at local TV/radio stations. When choosing a discipline identify programs that will focus on analytical thinking, research and communication skills and assist with technological skills used in new media.  Some of the top Universities for communication media studies would include University of Southern California, Stanford, University of Wisconsin, Berkeley, Goldsmiths, Loughborough, Reading, SOAS, Newcastle, Surrey, Royal Holloway, Monash and NUS. Some liberal arts colleges to consider – Kings College, Claremont McKenna College, Wellesley, Harvey Mudd, etc.

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