A common question asked by college students out there is “should I double major or minor?” It is a quite often a prickly pear of a decision, and many points should be weighed carefully before diving headfirst.
For some, it is an opportunity to “dip” your proverbial “stick” into a different pot. A second major could also offer an opportunity to explore a personal interest or to develop unique additional skills outside your primary major that could make your future resume stand out that much more.
A minor is kind of the “diet soda” version of a double major, in the sense that offers a bit of the flavor at a fraction of the calories – but will never surpass having the real deal.
So the bottom line is: is it worth it?
It really depends on the circumstances. Majoring in the arts or any of the social sciences can leave a real void in direct practical skills that are attractive to employers. In a case like this a double major can definitely supplement your resume in a positive way. For example, depending on your university requirements – most campuses do not require enough mathematics and statistics training for graduate studies in Economics. Most often before applying to graduate school, Economics majors supplement with additional courses after their finish their undergraduate degree (or simply load up during their undergrad tenure). Tacking on a mathematics double major or minor can be very beneficial in a circumstance like this in making your graduate school applications stand out.
Another great example if you are majoring in the humanities is to double major in another language. For majors like History, quite often it is a requirement to be well-versed in several languages for graduate and doctoral studies. Why not take care of it during your undergraduate tenure (especially in this economy)? Learning a second language to a level of high fluency can open doors internationally for study or work – languages such as Mandarin Chinese are in very high demand, and being a fluent speaker of both can land you some great jobs overseas!
If you have any interest in international business, double majoring in another language is a no-brainer (or at least minoring)
Majors such as the sciences, engineering, or pure business I quite often think do not benefit from the double major effect as much. Most science majors will pursue additional graduate study no matter what, and in academia the double major will probably be wasted time. Engineering suffers from lesser, but similar problem – and quite often in the opinion of many it is wise to just stick with engineering unless you are wanting to work internationally. Probably the best career move as an Engineer if you do not earn your graduate degree later on is to get a MBA if you have an interest in business.
A worthwhile double major for an Engineer would probably be mathematics (depending on your campus requirements, you could be only a few courses away from a math major anyway!) if you have an interest in math or perhaps teaching later on. A minor in math is definitely a no-brainer depending on your school’s requirements for minors. It is a simply tack on that may only cost you one additional quarter (or a few sessions of summer school).
Graduate school is always an option after college and in all cases totally overshadows whatever you did in your undergraduate studies.. kind of like how nobody cares what you did in high school now.
That said, there is also a considerable higher workload than your peers if you choose to double major or even minor. Do not expect to finish quicker than 4.5 years, even with summer school. Or if you do, put down the beer son and kiss your social life goodbye.
With all that said, I encourage everyone to maximize their college experience and spend some time actually thinking about what you’re going to do after college. Having the most flexible plan for post-undergraduate life is probably the best plan you can make.
Last but not least – ENJOY COLLEGE while you can. I definitely did. Best 7 years of my life!