Why I Don’t Double Major (or do a Minor)

Something that really surprises me about college students, especially Emory students, is how many of them double major. Maybe it’s just me, but I never even considered double majoring. I could barely decide on one major. I chose to major in Music Technology as a Freshman at my old school, the only reasons being that producing music was a hobby of mine and I thought that everyone had to know what they wanted to do from day one. As it turned out, the academic plan for that major was too restrictive to nurture my broad set of interests, and it would only really prepare me for a career in music, which I wasn’t sure that I wanted.

 

When I transferred to Emory as a majorless sophomore, the clock was ticking for me to commit to a major. If I had the time, money, and energy, I would major in every single one of the social sciences and humanities, and maybe a select few subjects in STEM. The idea of limiting myself to only a couple of subjects was devastating to me, so I chose a major that would encompass little bits of all of my interests and help me learn skills that are applicable in many different career paths: sociology.

 

You might be wondering why I didn’t just double major and minor; then I’d be able to study at least three subjects that I liked. But I figured out that I can learn about many more subjects if I only do one major. Sociology is a 38-credit-hour major, and gen-eds take up 50 credit hours or so, which leaves me with at least 36 credit hours needed to graduate. I could theoretically fit another major, and maybe even a minor, and still graduate on time if I took at least 5 classes a semester and possibly some summer classes (all that for only one major to appear on my Emory diploma!). But that seemed like a waste of time for me personally. Doing another major or minor means you have to meet additional course requirements, some of which you might not even care for that much. No offense, Poli Sci department, but I really don’t want to take QTM-100 or your research methods course (which I had to take as a Soc major). I just want to take the cool upper-level electives!

 

Having single-majored, I have been able to take elective classes in music and computer science (transferred from my old school); religion; linguistics; creative writing; human health; and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. I plan to take classes in many more subjects before I graduate, and I can do that without worrying about prerequisites and some of the less interesting required courses.

 

I feel like students these days are so obsessed with doing things that will look good on their resumes or that will make them look more employable that they forget to use their time in college to explore their passions. While it is true that students have to take employability into account, we have to stop spreading the notion that your undergraduate major(s) is/are the one and only key to your desired career path. If you ask other students, they’ll often tell you that you have to study a particular subject to get a job in a particular field. But if you ask, like, actual adults in the workforce, or just read some articles (like this one from Morgan Stanley), you might realize that unique perspectives and skills are just as important to employers as the predominant one needed for the job.

 

You could argue that double majoring or minoring gives you extra credentials, but it also limits the number of electives you get to take, and therefore limits the number of different subjects you get to learn about. College became a much more rewarding experience for me when I started looking at it as an opportunity to explore myself and my interests. You could spend four years mastering two or three subjects and not having any room to learn anything else, or you can master one subject and have a good baseline of knowledge in a number of areas. Personally, I want to be the jack of all trades, master of one. I don’t have to be the master of two, at least not yet. That’s what internships, careers, and further degrees are for!