Stuck choosing between two majors and can’t decide which one you prefer? Or, are you an overachiever who likes doing as much as humanly possible? Most university undergrad programs provide options to ensure students make the most of their time in college. While tacking on another major or minor may add a bit more work to your schedule, it does provide a greater reward.
Kevin Austin, advisor for the University of Florida School of Theatre and Dance, explained the problem with the current education climate. “Colleges are supposed to train your mind and make you think critically. Then you leave and apply the things you learned—problem solving, collaboration, creative thinking—to real life situations and trades.” Today, you have to learn life applications and the actual trade at the same time—while juggling two jobs and an internship. This creates problems, especially for students who don’t know what they want to do right away.
People who major in the arts sometimes feel limited by their choice and worry about job stability. Pressure from family and personal doubts can lead to adding on another degree option. “Follow your heart in your undergraduate degree—you’ll get the college experience and, if you love what you do, you’ll find a way to succeed,” Austin said. Supporting an art degree with another one from a different field, like science or communications, gives students a comparative advantage in job employment and provides a steady base to land post graduation. Employers also find multiple degrees beneficial because they hire well-rounded employees who can look at a problem from both a creative and logistic standpoint.
The benefits to academic multi-tasking works the other way around too. While students in the arts want to have a solid base to build their career creatively, students in fields of science and math want to enhance their degrees by exploring their left brain. “You start to think differently and become something other than the carbon copies,” Austin explained. Students studying computer engineering may decide to add a minor in digital production to give themselves a holistic approach to the design and creation of their work. From an employer’s standpoint, why bother hiring two separate people when you can hire one person with two skillsets? “It never hurts to come out with multiples because you can play to the side of being that much more well-rounded,” Austin said.
Students have a few options available if they want to add another degree to their workload. These three routes can take a college overachiever from a simple-minded Andy Dwyer to a know-it-all Leslie Knope.
THE MINOR ROUTE
While picking up a minor doesn’t add many credits to your workload, you still leave the undergraduate program with an extra kick in your degree. Minors are much less complex, and Austin noted that this simplicity plays a large role in students’ decision making. Minoring gives students a way to explore another field of study and still work consistently on their main degree. Taking a few extra classes also shows future employers that the student went above and beyond to make the most of their college years. Adding a minor to your workload may seem stressful, but it could be a company’s deciding factor when hiring you for your dream job. Minoring in psychology while majoring in elementary education would give you a greater chance of job employment because you understand more about how and why children act out the way they do compared to someone who only studied education.
Score the program and degree you love and actively pursue another interest throughout your four years. “Going into [college], about 80 percent of students in arts programs are double majoring,” Austin said. This option is only for those who wish to study two majors within the same college. If you double major in two separate colleges, you then have the unfortunate task of choosing which college’s degree you want to own—which leads us to the next option.
This is by far the most difficult, but in the end you walk in two graduation ceremonies and rightfully earn two degrees from different colleges. This constitutes working with two advisors and two colleges’ general education requirements—if you thought keeping up with the Kardashians was difficult, imagine keeping up with all of your degree requirements. For those interested in getting a dual degree, your four-year plan is your life line. Making sure you can complete both degrees within four years lets the university know that you can handle the workload and deserve two degrees to proudly hang in your office.
Though staying sane may not seem like an option while adding to your course load, here are a few tips for those who do end up attempting multiple degrees:
Students who start taking courses angled towards multiple degrees during their freshman or sophomore year gain the most out from their time. Starting early could mean the difference between graduating on time and taking an extra year (or two). College is supposed to be the best four years of your life, not six.
While you don’t need to worry as much about credit hours when pursuing a minor, receiving a dual degree or double majoring drastically affects your scheduling. You don’t have to be a Dean’s List student to create a four-year plan and walk across the stage with the friends you met in your first class. Take it old school and use a pen and paper to map out each semester with the classes you need to take. Nothing’s more satisfying than accomplishing more than your peers and still graduating in four years.
TAKE FULL ADVANTAGE OF TIME
Make sure that everything you do is essential to the pursuit of your degrees. An elective for one college may be a required course in another, so making sure you don’t take unnecessary classes is critical.
The range of multiple degree options seem nearly endless, limited only by the stretch of your will and imagination. If you are multi-passionate and enjoy multiple fields, don’t settle for less than multiple degrees.