Many students may choose a major solely on the basis of how interesting it may appear. Others may base their choice on a career path they’ve already decided on. Consequently, it doesn’t come as a surprise that over 30% of students graduate in a different major than the one in which they began. But is changing majors such a good idea? If you’ve already completed the course work, it may be beneficial to consider a double major or minor. This can enhance your academic experience and significantly contribute to job-searching after graduation.
Majors and Minors
The best thing about choosing more than one major is that you open yourself up to a wide variety of options. The easiest of these is simply to supplement your major with a minor in another field, given that a minor usually entails half the number of courses as the major. Think of it as a mini-version of the major that’s been designed to give you a good basic knowledge of the field. A minor broadens your knowledge and helps you structure your studies. Additionally, if you’re wondering what electives to take, a minor can help direct your course work.
Other options include double majors and dual majors. The definition of either choice varies from school to school, but usually a dual major consists of two related majors that complement each other. Classes overlap between the majors, which means fewer classes would be required than for a typical double major, so it would be easier to finish within four years – however it is more likely than with a single major that an additional year may be needed.
A double major essentially means taking on two separate majors and receiving two degrees. Depending on how many classes overlap between the two majors, this may add more than one year to your college career. Postponing the decision on a double major can result in needing an extra semester or two to meet the requirements.
Some schools impose limits on the extent to which students can double up while others are more flexible and offer various options. Depending on the school’s organizational structure and policies, students may not be able to combine majors “across colleges” – or in other words from two different divisions of the university or college.
Effort vs. Benefits
There is no doubt that doubling your major or adding a minor demands more work and time. The question is whether it’s truly worth it.
According to Kathy Sims, director of the UCLA Career Center, this might prove to be valuable on the job market as employers are impressed by the show of dedication, perseverance and ability to multi-task. And that is in addition to the extra knowledge you’ve drawn from a second specific fields.
Two separate majors also indicate that you’re flexible and adaptable. This is a valuable quality that demonstrates willingness to experience the world from different angles and gain an understanding of a variety of subjects.
In terms of personal growth, additional credentials help you by enriching your general knowledge and boosting your confidence.
Is It Right for You?
Most people are put off by the amount of extra coursework of a minor or dual major, as well as the fact that a double major is a big commitment. While it does take stronger motivation and focus to see this through, you don’t have to exhibit some extraordinary qualities or efforts to be able to do it.
Such a commitment requires serious lifestyle changes. Needless to say, time management will be essential, and you will have to give up some freedom in choosing your electives. Electives usually serve to help you broaden your knowledge. As long as you are confident in the path you are taking, the sacrifice may not be as large as it seems.
Common Sense Combos
If you’ve decided that double majoring is something you wish to pursue, it’s best to start with a little planning. For starters you can look into complimentary majors of your interest. This is not obligatory – if you have two completely separate interests it can be a great option to have a wide range of experience. It’s all a matter of perspective and sometimes unorthodox combinations produce the best results – for example a broader, humanitarian degree paired with one that’s more technical.
Among the most popular pairings: a foreign language and economics, performing arts and business, and journalism and political science. The list goes on and on, with a slew of different options depending on your personality and desires.
A quick chat with an academic counselor can send you in the right direction and provide insight into all the policies at the school. In the end doubling your major will slightly less than double the effort you need to put in, while doubling or even tripling your equity in the job market later on.