Picking a major is probably the hardest and most stressful decision college students have to make. The one sure thing to cause students anxiety is picking a major at an age where they’re not really sure what they want to do, or aren’t experienced enough to feel like they made the right decision.
Part of the reason picking a major is so hard is the indecision; students have a hard time picking something they’re passionate about, and with schools often offering at least 100 majors to choose from, they can feel overwhelmed.
Double majors offer an alternative to that, allowing students the freedom to pick two areas they may be passionate about instead of having to pick only one. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the percentage of students who double-major jumped 96% between 2000 and 2008. While the number of students pursuing a double major is still low, more and more students seem to consider this a viable option. This has been noted by schools across the country as articles in The Beacon, The Daily Iowan and others publications report increases in double majors in their respective schools, as well as tips on how to manage the added workload.
According to an article on stateuniversity.com, there are many perks to students pursuing a double major. According to the article, students who pursued a double major seem to be more creative and better at critical thinking. The article says that “surveyed students with two closely-related majors as well as students whose majors were at different ends of the spectrum both tended to have better critical thinking skills and more original ideas than students who concentrated on one subject area.” Another advantage of a double major, as the article goes on to say, is that it gives students the ability to pursue a degree in something that they love but that they may not be able to profit from if they pursue it alone.
However, the most known advantage of receiving a double major is that it gives students an edge when it comes to looking good for prospective employers. According to an article in The Daily Iowan, “Both school officials and researchers said having a double major potentially benefits the student. A study conducted by Richard Pitt and Steven J. Tepper, sociologists at Vanderbilt University, found that students who major in two areas report more success both in school and outside of it.”
However, pursuing a double major isn’t without its drawbacks. One of the main cons is the financial status necessary to pursue a double major. Randall Langston, Executive Director of Enrollment Management said on College Express that “there are many pitfalls associated with major choice, including choosing something that does not really interest you (just settling on something) and financial issues associated with staying in college longer with a double major.” This is to say, two majors often mean extra classes, and extra classes cost extra money. Students pursuing a double major may find themselves paying more for their college education.
Another drawback is the possibility of staying in college longer than anticipated. According to an article in USA TODAY College, coordinating classes to satisfy both majors often leads to students staying in college semesters after their peers have graduated. “Will you be able to afford an extra semester?” the article goes on to ask. “Will you be able to cope with many of your friends graduating before you do? If the answer to these questions is ‘yes,’ completing a double major may be feasible for you.”
According to Beacon Press, even the beneficial edge a double major promises may not always prove true. “Employers are looking for skills and experiential learning opportunities,” Director of Career Services Amy Cavanaugh said in the article. “Whether that’s an internship, research experience, clubs and activities – they’re looking for evidence of skills.”
Of course, other sources also say that pursuing a major in both fields may also open more doors for internships and networking in those chosen majors. This would, in turn, give students more opportunities to gain the skills and connections that would make the students more appealing to their future employees.
While there are different schools of thoughts when it comes to double majors, all sources agree that students who pursue a double major must exercise constant discipline. Even if you pick two majors that are closely related or pick your classes in a way that gives you a lesser workload, a double major will still require students to put in the extra effort. Planning out your classes and staying on track also takes on significant importance. An article in U.S. News states, “All students should have a four-year plan, but for double majors, that road map is critical.” Students should be sure they are both willing and able to juggle this workload with a possible job and social life before considering a double major.
Overall, double majors are not for everyone but for students that do pursue this educational journey, they will be able to expand their horizons and keep their options open in a way that allows them to work with what they love.