Committing to a major is difficult when you can’t decide between reading some of the greatest works of literature as an English major or engrossing yourself in figuring out how the universe came about as a physics major. Having a double major in two opposite fields at the same time leads to all-nighters in the library and interferes with your TV-watching schedule. Instead of relaxing and when you finish up your history essay, you might have to run off to a chem lab.
But tackling a double major isn’t all bad.
While students who study subjects in only one area can get stuck approaching problems from just one angle, studying subjects from two vastly different fields forces you to develop your left and right brain. For all the extra effort double majoring in humanities and STEM requires, the flexibility and strengths you you develop in multiple areas is invaluable.
Applying your humanities skills to your STEM major
Most people find writing essays to be the most laborious component of humanities classes. But learning to write well in humanities classes ends up helping you in your STEM classes and gives you the skills you need to convince your reader that temperature and pressure are related when you write your physics lab report. “There is, even in science, a rhetoric of persuasion going on…even if you know you’re right, you have to be able to show other people why this is so,” Patrick O’Neill, an English professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said. No matter how obvious the evidence seems to you, if you want to excel in that bio class, you must be able to write clearly and convincingly. By applying your writing skills to your STEM papers, you’ll be able to write A-plus lab reports in no time.
Applying your STEM skills to your humanities major
While you probably won’t find yourself using the periodic table in your Spanish class, and you might not have the opportunity to show off your Python skills on your linguistics final, you can apply the skills you learn from your STEM major to give you a boost in your humanities studies. “Computer science, and this may be different in other STEMs but I don’t think it is, is all about solving problems [and] breaking up one task into smaller tasks, and that’s a skill that is applicable to everything you do,” Diane Pozefsky, director of undergraduate studies in computer science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said. STEM subjects teach you to think analytically, and you can succeed in a humanities major by applying this skill to your readings and discussion posts. By using the different modes of thought when you double major, you can create new connections and be more efficient when completing your work.
Keeping up with all the workload
One of the biggest stressors of a double major in humanities and STEM is the sheer amount of work. Classes are unlikely to overlap, meaning that you’ll have to spend a lot of time studying. Overlapping classes that fulfill requirements within each major can cut down on the amount of classes that you have to take and end up decreasing your burden each semester. But by organizing your homework schedule so you work on homework from a humanities and STEM class during the same study session, you won’t fry your brain. When you’ve been programming for hours and simply can’t write another line of code, it’s helpful to switch gears and knock out a reading assignment for your philosophy class. Making sure you’re maximizing your time by taking classes that count for both majors, and keeping yourself attentive by switching between subjects while working, makes the time spent studying go by faster.
Selling yourself to employers
Your double major in humanities and STEM demonstrates that you have strong communication and analytical skills, and after all the work you put in, you better emphasize this to employers. “[You’ve] shown that you’re flexible and that [you] understand different areas, and that you’re not bound by the box of one particular field or point of view,” Elizabeth Schuster, assistant dean of academic advising at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said. Beyond proving your ability to keep up, your double major shows your ability to branch out and innovate. “You also may be more creative and able to look outside the box if you’ve thought of things in different ways. It’s not necessarily facts you’re learning,” Schuster said, “but ways of thinking which expand your ability to bring creativity to whatever area you’re going into.” Your determination to double major and study all that you wanted portrays your passion and drive that certainly makes you stand out as a candidate.
Why it’s worth it
Despite the all-nighters you pulled to finish your classics essays and the early mornings spent finishing up your math homework, you’ll leave college satisfied because you’ll graduate feeling like you accomplished everything you planned to. Maximizing the college experience by assuming a double major helps you build connections, expand your way of thinking and increase your job prospects. March towards your diploma amid choruses of “Pomp and Circumstance” knowing you didn’t sacrifice one of your interests for another.