Your major is a four-year relationship—potentially the most important relationships you’ll encounter in college. You go on dates with multiple classes in order to see which ones you like. And then at some point, you settle down and commit. You commit to one major for not only the rest of college, but the rest of your life. So you need to make sure you and your major will create the best future together.
The difference between a major and a relationship? You’re allowed to cheat on your major.
Different majors can work together to tag-team you to success. “When my students ask me about the benefits of pursuing a double major, I might tell them this: I believe that double-majoring allows you to explore several topics of great interest to you while also discovering the intersections between diverse academic disciplines,” said Aimee Wittman, Career Services Director at Washington University in St. Louis.
Pursuing two majors allows a student to see and explore so much more. “I think the biggest reason a double major is a good thing is because it allows the student to explore two primary areas of interest and diversify their education without having to choose just one,” said Tulane University advisor Sarah Andert. “Two majors allow more variety than just one and majoring in two subject areas provides a concentrated and focused exploration of each discipline, rather than just taking a couple classes here and there in each area of interest.”
Signing a major declaration form is one of the scariest feelings in college. Will you now have double the workload? Will there be any time for fun? Do you really need two majors? However, colleges want you to succeed. There’s a possibility to keep your workload the same, if not even lighter.
Find classes that overlap within two majors so you can fully immerse yourself in both of the departments. “When you’re a major, you also have the advantage of being a full member of that department, so you have a major advisor for both interests who can also guide in your research, graduate and career opportunities in that field. You might also be more likely to participate in activities and the academic life of that department than if you just took random courses,” said Andert.
Did I mention a double major means double the networking opportunities? We already know networking can help you land the best jobs. Whether you network online, in person or through a friend, meeting people can eventually help you in your field. As a double major, you’re exposed to double the amount of people to network with and have double the opportunities to get involved with both majors.
“At Washington University in St. Louis, pursuing a double major is an exciting way to engage in cross-disciplinary work while deepening your knowledge of unique fields of study. Because I also work in career education, I would also encourage my students to complement their academic work with career exploration strategies by working with their career advisors and seeking multiple, meaningful internship, research or co-op experiences. A smart idea for students pursuing single or double majors,” said Wittman. In the end, college really is a networking game, so why not expand that field?
“Finally, the students I see often have one primary passion, such as healthcare, but are unsure of how to approach it—they’re usually trying to decide between two majors that address that same passion or interest but in different ways. With healthcare, for example, students may not know right now if they’re more interested in policy and the social aspects of medicine and prevention (maybe SPHU or POLS majors) vs. treating disease directly through becoming a doctor or engaging in research (NSCI or CELL). Double majoring gives them the option to learn as much about the varied approaches to their interest as possible and keeps multiple career paths open,” said Andert.
Basically, do what you love while also presenting your key skills.
Don’t sign that form just yet. Remember that this is a huge commitment, but you also get the ability to use your time in college to discover what you truly love. Double majoring allows you to love two topics. It’ll only increase your options for your post-grad plans. Don’t feel pressured to stick to one thing. Who said you can’t be a doctor and an artist at the same time?